Job Title: Division Quality Assurance ManagerName: Paul McLaughlin

Company: Coca-Cola Great Britain & Ireland

Professional Qualification(s):
7 x Scottish ‘O’ Grades, 5 x Scottish Higher Grade, 3 x Scottish CSYS 1st Class Honours Degree in Electronic Systems & Microprocessor Engineering

Degree studied at
University of GlasgowBrief job description
This role has dual responsibilities – to The Coca-Cola Company and to our Bottling Partners. For The Company, the key responsibility is to protect the quality of our trademarks and brands and to ensure that we keep the quality promise that we make to consumers over a billion times per day.

To do this, Division QA Manager develops and manages the implementation of quality standards, policy and specification and performs a governance role in ensuring that Bottlers comply with these standards. For the Bottlers, the role also contains a consultative side, including leveraging the Coca-Cola System to obtain best practices and new standards of operation, managing the process to authorise suppliers, implementing quality systems across the supply chain etc

My career so far…
1990-1995
Joined Mars Confectionery, Slough, as an Engineering Graduate Trainee. After 2 years, moved into the production department as a Manufacturing Shift Manager, responsible for the Galaxy and Maltesers lines.

1995-1997
Became Operations Manager at the Coca-Cola Company owned plant in Durham. This was the only company owned facility in Europe, and the Operations team had 3 shift managers, an engineering manager and a warehouse manager.

1997-2000
Moved to the Divisional Office in London as Senior Quality Improvement Representative. Worked closely with bottling plants on improving their quality performance and adopting a new level of quality operation.

2000-Present
Following restructuring, became Quality Assurance Manager for the newly formed GB&I; Division. Recruited a team of 7 quality professionals and set goals and strategies for the GB&I; quality function. In 2001 we became the first Division to have 3 bottling plants certified to The Coca-Cola Quality System – the most prestigious quality status that a plant can attain.

What does your job involve in a typical day?
I typically arrive in the office at around 8am and leave between 6 and 7pm. A lot of the communication is through our e-mail system so this is the first port of call each morning. After that it is difficult to generalise, as the role is so varied. With a team of 7 who cover every aspect of quality, I will be having a detailed discussion on a new packaging specification one minute, then talking about water quality and new EU legislation before moving on to discuss a strategy to improve quality within the distribution system.

Success of the department is 100% based on the success and commitment of the individuals in the team. A lot of my daily activity is around giving them the support they need to do their job more effectively.

I will usually be in contact with colleagues at our Bottlers each day. These will range from managers at individual plants, to the quality director at the head office. Topics vary widely, as quality across the supply chain will affect everything from raw material supply to final delivery to customers.

What do you like most about your job?
There are 2 key aspects that I enjoy. The first is the variability of the job. I love change and, when no two days are ever the same, I get plenty of it. I also enjoy working for a great company like Coca-Cola. There is a sense of purpose and pride I get from working here that I don’t think would be the same in a smaller company.

What skills are required for your job?
To do this job, you need to be a good communicator and be able to work with a variety of people on a number of levels. You need strong management skills, good analytical ability and a drive and passion for what the brand stands for and in keeping the quality promise that our brands make to consumers over a billion times a day.

Additionally, you need a sound knowledge of the beverage industry

How many people work for you?
7 quality professionals, 5 of whom are at management level and 2 who are based remotely from the office.

What is your advice to people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?
The food industry is a great area in which to work – fast paced, exciting and good fun. I would personally recommend looking within the Blue Chips to start with (Mars, Nestle, Coca-Cola, etc) as it is easier to come out of them into a promoted position in a smaller company, than the other was around.