What does your job involve?
Glanbia is a fresh milk plant. We take in raw milk and produce products like Avonmore super milk and protein milk, along with a range of other products. The quality assurance department is involved in every step of the process, from raw milk intake, ingredients, packaging, all the way through to your finished product for distribution, so we have to make sure the quality standards are maintained and the customer gets exactly what they’re looking for at the end of the day.
How did you get into your job?
I was actually a secondary school science teacher. I taught biology and physics in the UK for a year. I then came back to Ireland and did a one year masters at UCC in food micro-biology. During that time I was looking for jobs and graduate programmes. Glanbia stood out for me, particularly because you don’t actually need industry experience as it gives you that experience over the two years of the grad programme.
How is your graduate programme structured?
It’s a two year graduate programme and over the course of the two years you are placed in two different locations. For the first year you’re usually based in Ireland, and you could be in quality control, quality assurance or the laboratory. In the second year you often get the opportunity to go abroad, often to the States. They have large factories over there producing cheeses and a lot of protein products.
What skills are important to be successful?
Adaptability is massive, especially in Glanbia because we’re actually a production plant. In the morning I could be in a senior management meeting conveying the quality results from the previous week. In the afternoon I could be on top of a raw milk tanker assessing its quality, or out on a farm visit looking at the animals with the farmer that supplies our milk. Being able to adapt to the different situations and people you’ll be dealing with is a key skill.
What do you love about your job?
The variety of the role of quality assurance is what really attracts me. I especially love the new product development side of things. Glanbia is very big into meeting the consumer’s needs and we’re constantly researching and developing new things. We would get the blends from Glanbia Ingredients’ innovation centre and would then carry out production trials. It’s fantastic to be involved in new products coming down the line.
What advice would you give a first year student?
The two key skills are innovation and being able to think outside the box. Glanbia are very supportive of new ideas, so any ideas you have they will put their full backing behind. Being able to look at a process and see where you can implement your ideas is key.
Best graduate programme experience so far?
My manager has been on the site for 40 years and he’s an absolute mine of information. There’s nothing he hasn’t seen, and he has allowed me to experience everything. From the very start to the final product, I have experienced all the steps in between. That openness and honesty is one of the things I enjoy most about my job.