Degree Food Science & Technology (UCC)
Job title Process Technologist
Employer Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard
For as long as I can remember I have always had a curious nature, coupling this with my passion for food, Food Science seemed like a natural academic path to follow. I gained a wealth of knowledge in University, both theoretical and practical, whilst acquiring the pragmatism associated with a scientist. In my final year of studies, I took a module in Cereals and Related Beverages and was fascinated with the process. Four simple ingredients (water, yeast, cereal and oak casks) can make an array of whiskeys. Despite my keen interest, I never actually considered pursuing a path in distilling whiskey.
Choosing my career
During the College career seminar, I was immediately drawn to the Jameson success story; 23 years of continuous volume growth, an iconic Irish brand known the world over and with a €100 million expansion in development since 2012. yet, it was the job specification that really confirmed my decision to go for the graduate programme. The role itself is dynamic; combining ambassadorial duties, process theory and practical knowledge of the plant. This really appealed to me as a graduate, not only was I getting great exposure but it equipped me with a different way of thinking.
Having successfully applied for the role, training commenced with a six week in-depth marketing and business strategy induction. This was invaluable as it gave me an insight into the company from the outside-in, which is so important for an employee. Extra pride is instilled into my everyday work because I am aware of the scope of the Jameson brand. Along with this, I worked on my presentation skills and gained confidence through weekly whiskey tastings.
The graduate programme
When I arrived in Midleton, I was given exposure to different roles, not just that of a scientist. Irish Distillers hold the attitude that not all scientists wear white coats. Training commenced in each area of the plant, from Quality Assurance to Distillation. This training was delivered by experts in their respective fields. Their time, dedication and willingness to impart information enabled me to make the transition from a scientific background to an engineering role.
I became a part of the expansion commissioning team. This involved monitoring the distillation process, both day and night. Ensuring the unique equipment was working to the best of its ability while maintaining the quality of the Jameson whiskey we know and love.
A job I love
After 18 months of my two year Graduate Programme, the position of Process Technologist became available. This is a role that mixes both Brand Ambassador duties with process optimisation. I went for it and with no small degree of pride; I can now say I am now a Process Technologist in Midleton Distilleries and undergoing a Diploma in Distilling. My advice to new graduates is to make everyday a school day. Always be willing to learn something new and you’ll find your niche.
Deirdre O'Carroll was interviewed for the gradireland Engineering sector guide 2015