Joanna O'Donnell, Technical Manager, Augher Co-operative

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Name Joanna O'Donnell
Job Technical Manager
Employer Augher Co-operative, Augher, Co. Tyrone
Education BSc Biomedical Science, University of Ulster (2003), Postgraduate Diploma, Management, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School (2008)

After I finished college, I got a job as a trainee production manager for a retail company. I really enjoyed the food industry, but wasn’t happy in production management

I decided to move into quality management and I got my current job after applying for it directly. I filled in a detailed application form and was then asked to attend an on site interview, which took about 45 minutes. My company is taking part in InterTradeIreland’s FUSION project, which meant that my job incorporated the FUSION postgraduate diploma in management; I was also linked with St Angela’s College in Sligo which provided me with academic support.

It’s my job to ensure that the end product – cheddar and cottage cheeses – is safe going out to the customer. I make sure that food safety management systems such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) are adhered to, so I’m often on the production line to ensure people are washing their hands properly and wearing protective clothing. I’m also responsible for making sure product codes are correct.

I was able to complete some of my diploma assignments at work, although I spent many weekends and evenings finishing things off. It was well worth the effort though as it was only for a year.

The best bit about my job is the learning curve I’ve been on – I’ve gained an incredible amount of knowledge over the past two years. I also love the interaction I have with customers and colleagues.

Tips for graduates

If you go into a line of work and you’re not happy there, don’t stay and be miserable – try another area. Moving from product to quality management was the best decision I could have made.

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