#GradStories Bill Sheehan, R&D Engineer at PepsiCo.

22 Jun 2023, 13:24

Image for #GradStories Bill Sheehan, R&D Engineer at PepsiCo.

What does a typical week look like for you?

My week involves a lot of different tasks. As R&D engineers, we assess any new technologies that we may be looking to implement in in the processes in PepsiCo.

Anything that could contribute to the sustainability agenda by reducing water usage or energy usage would be looked upon favourably. We also provide validation support for any PGCS validation batches, and we develop new technologies for our processing equipment. So, I'm currently involved in trials for looking into spray drying and separation techniques for converting liquid caramel into powder.

What skills do you need to be successful in your role?

I think communication skills are important in the role. On a day-to-day basis I work with different suppliers and contractors and things like that so definitely need to be able to listen and communicate effectively with them to ensure any project is a success and that any issues are resolved as quickly as possible. A research and development engineer also needs to be as Innovative as possible.

How did you get into your job?

I was always really interested in science and math subjects and then went on to do chemical and process engineering at UCC. I did a five-year program there, so I graduated in 2021 with a master's degree in chemical engineering and that September I went on to start the graduate program at PepsiCo I haven't looked back since

What skill should students interested in this sector develop?

For someone who's in first year of an engineering course I say focus on having a good foundation in the core engineering subjects such as maths, applied maths, physics and chemistry.

Also work on developing good teamwork skills. Being able to work effectively in a group environment is very important. At work you’ll need to collaborate with other functions on projects so you need to be comfortable with teamwork.

How have you adjusted to working from home?

When I started in PepsiCo it was nearly all working from home, and it was quite difficult integrating into a new world straight from college when there's not that face-to-face communication and you're not meeting people in your team face to face. But since then, we’ve moved to a hybrid model, and it's been great coming on site and then having the opportunity to work from home one or two days a week. It makes the job more flexible.

What do you love about your job?

The variety in the job is what I love most about working with PepsiCo. Since I joined in September 2021, I've gained exposure and experience in loads of different roles such as process engineering, commercialisation engineering and project management. I've been given the opportunity to work alongside other global functions and suppliers. There's the opportunity to travel as well!

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