I started working at Branston in 2011, doing 16 hours a week while I was at college. As a Production Operative I was responsible for packing potatoes into trays and merchandising units as well as packing and labelling 20kg sacks. In August 2012 I went full-time and just over a year later I was promoted to a Vision Grader Operative, which gave me the opportunity to prove my communication skills as well as allowing more scope in planning and organising my area of work.
A year later I was promoted to the position of Team Leader and offered a place on Branston’s Food Manufacturing Excellence course. It’s a nationally-recognised SVQ level 3 training programme, which provides a range of tools and techniques to get the best out of people as well as helping to improve the way we work with our equipment and processes.
I am now in a position where I help with planning and scheduling as well as supervising production on a day-to-day basis. I make sure that everyone follows correct procedures so that we’re as lean and efficient as we can be. I’ve been able to implement many of the tools learned on the course, which is helping our team to hit some challenging efficiency and quality targets and making a major contribution to delivering a consistently great service for our customers.
I joined Branston in 2011 as an assistant in the new and rapidly growing processing division. I was aware that it would involve a lot of hands-on work on farms liaising with growers and a lot of travel around the UK - digging samples and doing testing. It sounded right up my street!
Our farming and processing divisions evolved very quickly and I learnt a lot in a very short space of time. In 2012 the processing manager was promoted to head of farming and I moved up to managing the processing division. I was still doing lots of the hands-on work in the field, along with providing growers with advice on growing and varieties, but also looking after all aspects of processing supply and delivery of potatoes into processing factories. I worked closely with a dedicated group of around 20 growers across the UK and I was responsible for procurement, technical support and raw material delivery.
I always enjoyed the customer side of the role, so when an opportunity came up for an Account Executive for the Tesco account I jumped at the chance. I worked very closely with the National Account Manager, developing the long-term partnership, understanding their business needs and finding ways that we can help them grow the potato category. I've now taken on account management for the Prepared side of the business. It’s a very diverse role, with opportunities to interact with all business functions on all levels. I have to understand the whole process, from the field to the factory, and integrate this with a range of commercial skills to make sure that we keep our customers happy.
I joined Branston on the Graduate Development Programme in 2012 after completing a Physical Geography degree at Aberystwyth University. I undertook a series of placements around the business – Technical, Finance, Operations (both at South West and Lincoln) – as well as completing Branston’s Leadership Development Programme.
While working in Ops I covered everything from grading and packing on the lines to process flow improvements and it was an excellent grounding for when I took on a permanent position as an Operations Analyst. My focus was to monitor operational systems and provide feedback on improvements and I’ve learnt a lot by being involved in some major business improvement projects.
In September 2015 I was promoted to the new role of Site Services Manager, working on KPIs and process improvements, as well as leading a small team and managing a number of third party contacts for the site. Less than a year later I was promoted to another new role - Raw Materials Manager. I'm working to continuously improve our raw material supply, handling and stock control processes. It’s a challenging role, where every day is different and I get the opportunity to contribute to some key initiatives for the business.
I joined the company in 2012 as a Graduate Trainee, coming straight from completing a Business Studies degree at the University of Lincoln.
On the Graduate Development Programme I got the opportunity to move around the company undertaking projects in different departments such as, Operations, IT, HR, Field Services and Development. Throughout this process I realised the elements of a role that did and didn’t appeal to me, which led me to being an NPD Co-ordinator, managing the Waitrose and Booker fresh accounts as well as assisting with others.
Due to the NPD Manager leaving a few months later I stepped up and managed all of the customer accounts from an NPD point of view as well as trying to gain a larger share of these accounts and gain new ones, a tricky but steep learning curve. This experience has really helped as we’ve grown the team, and in May 2016 I was promoted to Senior NPD Manager. As well as focusing on growing our accounts for both the Fresh and Prepared businesses I’m also involved in longer term pipeline development and process improvement to support our overall business growth strategy.
Before I joined Branston I served over 12 years with the RAF. I’ve always had an aptitude for fixing things, so after basic training and learning to be a soldier I trained as an Airframe Technician. For five years I toured with II(AC) squadron, working on Tornada GR4. During my tour I supported the aircraft, on operations in Iraq, where I earned my first medal and various exercises in Europe, Canada and North America.
In 2007 I joined the team of engineers maintaining the RAF Red Arrows along with assisting the PR team and associated charity work. I continued my training and development, qualifying as an Aircraft Technician Mechanical.
This thorough mechanical grounding has been very useful and allowed me to transfer to the factory environment when I joined Branston in 2013 as a Maintenance Engineer. I was part of the Maintenance team undertaking servicing and corrective maintenance on all the factory equipment at the Lincoln site.
At the start of 2014 I was promoted to Development Engineer. My first projects included the new staff facilities and introduction of new Perfotec technology, which helps to keep potatoes fresher in the packs. The role moved from central projects to innovation after about six months. I am now looking at a range of Blue Sky projects, which involves me working with interesting experts and allows me to travel both in the UK and Europe.