Billington Group would not be where it is without its amazing teams. In this new ‘Our People’ section, we’ll be sharing a bit more about the diverse roles across our businesses and providing some insight into what makes Billington people tick!
I’m a graduate on The Billington Group’s Future Leaders Programme – current position graduate technologist.
How long have you been with Billington Group?
I started back in September 2018, it’s been an amazing 16 months so far!
How did you hear about The Billington Group and their Future Leaders Graduate Programme?
By chance! I was talking to my friend who was still at university, I had graduated a couple of years before her. The Billington Group had just done a presentation at her university and she mentioned it when we were talking about what I was looking for. She explained a bit about what they did and I loved the sound of it, so did some research and applied. It’s amazing what can come from a conversation!
What attracted you to the role?
It had a lot to do with the travelling aspect of it, I love exploring new places. I’ve lived in 3 different countries over the last few years, and this role stood out because it moves you around the business and around the country.
I have always had a passion for food and had initially considered a career as a chef. After college, I decided to study hospitality where I gained a lot of experience in the food and beverage industry. In my final year of University I found myself becoming increasingly interested in ingredient origin and supply chain management and so eventually decided to look into food manufacturing roles. Without a specifically food related degree, I needed to find a different route into the industry and when my friend suggested The Billington Group, I knew I’d found the perfect opportunity.
The Future Leader Programme looked amazing as I saw I’d be spending time in various departments across the business, a great way to see all the processes involved and roles that I hadn’t ever considered. I love what I do at the moment and can’t imagine not working in food!
What have been your highlights so far?
I love that I get to move around, meet so many new people and experience working with different departments. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes! I’ve had some great opportunities to develop personally and professionally across the business so far and I look forward to continuing my journey within the Group.
Have you had to overcome any challenges?
Well as much as I enjoy it, having to move around does come with its challenges. The Billington Group have three main sections, all with different personalities and teams involved, so adapting to how each work can be challenging, but I always get settled and end up loving it. Time pressures can be a little stressful, but that’s the industry, we have a really quick turn around time and it’s something I’ve gotten used to. It pushes you to just get stuff done, so it’s been really useful in developing my time management and ability to prioritise my workload.
What advice would you give to others looking for a role in the industry or on the Graduate Programme?
If you’ve found something you’re interested in, whether it’s a job role, some work experience or involvement in a project, just go for it! It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’re qualified, I don’t have a food based degree, but I took a chance and now I’m here. Be confident in what you bring to the table, and show your enthusiasm to learn on the job, ambition is key!
What are three things you’ve learnt during your time there?
- I’ve learned how to communicate across all areas of the business with confidence. From working with our operatives in various departments on making improvements in the factory, to presenting and reporting information to senior managers. Working across the business has also developed my problem solving skills and understanding of risk assessments, which I can apply to situations both in and out of the office.
- To stop doubting myself. Every time I move location, I get incredibly nervous starting a role that I have very little knowledge of, but I’ve learnt that I’m perfectly capable of doing the job, I just have to remember to relax and enjoy the process, taking the time to adjust and settle in.
- Food manufacturing is far more complex than I could have ever imagined. The amount of detail that goes into creating just one product is so impressive. From creating the recipe, to managing the processes in the factory all the way to getting it to our end consumers, it’s a really interesting process to be a part of. There’s nothing quite like seeing something you’ve worked on, sitting on a shelf in the supermarket – it’s a proud moment!
What three things do you want to learn more about or explore?
- My final placement is all about taking on even more responsibility and developing the skills needed to lead a team. Up until my role here at the kitchen, I had never really been in a position to lead a project or a team and I really want to build on that in the next few months.
- I’ve interacted with ops for a while now and I want to imbed myself into the department using what I have learned about the department whilst in technical.
- Developing and executing business strategy. The Billington Group is a large company and requires a lot of strategic planning. I want to learn more about what we do as a business to plan, and explore other opportunities in the industry.
What is your dream role long term?
Within the company, I really want to become a commercial manager. I love building relationships with people, especially with my hospitality background, and I enjoy the challenge of finding the solutions to their business needs.
Describe a typical day in your role:
At the minute, it’s a bit of everything. I’ve got my day to day tasks which include making sure everything is in order with the factory.
Then I’ll attend a taste panel where we test the quality of the products, assessing the taste, texture and appearance of everything produced that day to check they meet our quality requirements. After that I’ll go through our paperwork for the products, making sure we’re compliant to regulations and have completed all the necessary paperwork for production.
As part of the Future Leader Programme, I’m also involved with lots of other projects both business specific and group-wide to maximise my experience and exposure to new challenges. I’ve had the opportunity to work with our PR, Content and Social agency, Extreme and at each site, we are given the opportunity to work with other teams to help identify potential areas for improvement within the business.
At my first placement I saw an opportunity for us to help reduce the amount of food waste there can be in the industry and so started to look for alternative avenues for excess product. We now work closely with FareShare, a charity dedicated to tackling food waste. They take products that would otherwise go to waste and redistribute them to other charities around the UK who then turn them into meals. It’s been great working with them and seeing the positive difference it makes.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love trying all the amazing things we make, but the best part is that I get to work with all the departments in the factory. I get involved with everyone which is great insight, both into the industry and the Group. It makes me feel more knowledgeable about the business, which means I can get more things done a lot faster than if I hadn’t had such a varied experience.
What makes the food/agriculture sector exciting to work in?
It’s always different. Everytime we go into the kitchen there is always something new to try, new trends to adapt to and new awards to go in for. I love going into a shop or restaurant and seeing our products out there, it’s great to see all the work you’ve seen take place and put in come to fruition.
What do you think the next big thing for food/agriculture will be?
I think trends wise, it’s going towards the plant-based and healthy eating focus, with meat and dairy alternatives becoming more readily available. Long gone are the days of one or two vegan options, developers are experimenting with new textures, flavours and ingredients, providing delicious plant-based alternatives for all, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian.
Can you describe the Billington Group in three words?
Fun. I love it here, it has a great atmosphere and amazing people working in the business. Bespoke, because it’s such a personal service for our customers. Ambitious, we want to do well and be the best, delivering high quality products and exemplary service.
What’s your favourite Billington product?
It’s really hard, as I try so many delicious products. When I was at TSC, I tried a lot of the Glorious! Soup products, the Indian Sweet Potato Dahl is my absolute favourite. You also can’t beat our brownies and cheesecake, they’re incredible.
Now a bit more about you….
Coffee or tea?
Coffee – at least 5 times a day!
Best sandwich filling?
Cheese and pickle
I’m from Birmingham and love a really good curry. I think we have the best curry and I find it hard to find any as good as home.
Favourite weird food combinations? We love salt and vinegar crisps and chocolate, or the famous/infamous Macdonald’s fries dipped in a milkshake.
When I was little, my auntie told me that my grandad loved jam on yorkshire puddings. So after a roast, if there are any going spare, we have them with raspberry jam on. They’re delicious and make me feel so nostalgic!