Imaginative Teaching Resources & Inspirational Career Ideas from the Chilled Food Industry

Tanya Muzembe

We spoke to Tanya in 2018 when she was a Group Technical Graduate at Greencore. Then based at the company’s Chesterfield HQ she was already turning her passion for science, and in particular microbiology, into action since.

What is your degree? Where did you study?

I have a BSc in Microbiology from Nottingham Trent University.

When do you first become interested in Food Science?

The second year of my degree included a module called Clinical and Public Health Microbiology. I’ve always been curious to find out why disease happens and what causes outbreaks of illness, particularly when they are related to food. So this really cemented my interest and showed me how I could use my microbiology in the food industry.

Did you have a career goal in mind when you applied for University?

I’ve got ‘A’ level Biology, Chemistry and Psychology and always knew I wanted to work in science. I originally applied to do a pharmacology degree but on reflection realised I’m more interested in discovering why things happen rather than dealing with the consequences. Microbiology opens up many options in health and food.

On graduation I worked for 3 months in a lab in a dairy. I realised that lab work was not for me. I like to be office-based or out on site.

What made you apply to Greencore?

The graduate scheme offers the chance to try a variety of roles to see what suits you. I was aware of Greencore – mainly thanks to walking past its Sheffield site and researching the company. I knew I wanted to work in food and when I was looking for graduate schemes Greencore’s looked very attractive. I joined in September 2017.

What does your job involve?  Is it fun, interesting?

I’m currently in the Product Lifecycle Management Team. We look at the processes a product goes through, the microbiological tests needed to verify safety and nutritional value and so on. I’m currently working on a new system which involved me going on site audits. I recently visited an egg farm. I’m not normally excited by eggs (!) but it was fascinating to see all the different sorts of eggs there are. There is so much going on ‘behind the scenes’ in the food industry, it’s endlessly fascinating and yet very few people know about it, or about us. I am addicted to checking packaging of chilled products to see where they are made. I get a real sense of pride knowing that I’m part of this massive industry, even if it is somewhat anonymous.

I’m really enjoying my work. There’s much more paperwork that I anticipated but it’s all vital to ensure standards are maintained. I’m also enjoying meeting suppliers and going out to sites. I’m looking forward to my next trip – to look at hygiene on a vegetable site.

What are your long term career plans?

I’m keeping an open mind but I want to incorporate microbiology into whatever I do, perhaps in a monitoring or surveillance role. Chill appeals because it’s a 24 hour industry, where problems need to be addressed instantly. This appeals to my forensic instincts!

What advice would you give to someone thinking about Food Science as a career?

There are plenty of roles to choose from, from process to office based. I believe there is something for everyone. And the graduate schemes are a great way to sample those roles.

Get some experience if you can, placements are good. My full time job at the dairy was great experience as I had real responsibilities and had to deliver results. It was also, like Greencore, a 24/7 business.

I love the choice I’ve made and wouldn’t hesitate in encouraging others to follow me into chill!



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