#GradStories Niamh McGovern, Quality Manager at Lakeland Dairies.
What are the main tasks you do in a day?
Lakeland dairies is a dairy processor processing milk from 3200 farms across Ireland into a variety of dairy ingredients such as milk powders, milk proteins, butter cream and liquid milk. My role as quality manager means being involved in every step of the supply chain: the quality of the raw milk that we collect on Farm, processing of the milk on our production sites, packing of our finished product and dispatch to our customer. My role really involves making sure that the product that we're producing is consistent in terms of meeting customer requirements and legislation requirements.
What skills do you need to be successful in your role?
I would say the communication is a key skill in my role. I spend over 80% of my day communicating with a large number of people both inside the business and outside of the business. This includes people within my team, cross-functional teams, customers, suppliers and also external bodies.
Adaptability is important as the dairy industry is very fast-paced so you need to be ready to to make those changes when they come.
How did you get into your job?
I come from a farmer background so agriculture and food has always been something that has really interested me. I studied food science in UCD, it's a four-year degree program and as part of that you complete a work placement on your third year which is six months long. I completed my work placement in Lakeland where I was placed in the chemical and microbiology lab. This gave great insight into the dairy industry and was great work experience.
I was lucky enough when I graduated that I returned to Lakeland and worked in the chemical and micro lab and from there I applied for the Lakeland graduate program. Lakeland graduate program is a two-year program which consists of six month rotations where you move between functions. An example of some of those functions would be quality and technical operations, commercial and logistics. As part of the program you complete a diploma in management which has a number of different modules so it's a great opportunity for graduates to continue learning and development while being in the workplace.
What do you love about your job?
What I love most about my job is how diverse it is, no two days are the same. The dairy industry is constantly evolving, there's new requirements in terms of food safety and customer standards, so it's always about learning something new.
What advice would you give to a student?
I would say to first year students to get involved get involved in clubs, societies or sports. This is a great way to develop your skills in terms of communication, teamwork and organisational skills. Companies are really interested in your extracurricular activities as well as your academic work.
If you get the opportunity over your time at university to complete an internship, this gives you great insight into the industry and also it's great experience to have on your CV when you graduate.
Watch Niamh's interview
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