Job Title
Shift Production ManagerName: Donald McClymont

Company: Northern Foods

Professional Qualification(s):
7 SCE Highers 2 Sixth year studies BSc (Hons) Biochemistry 2:1

Degree studied at
St Andrews UniversityBrief job description
I am Shift Production Manager for the Baking Department within Fox’s Biscuits, a company within Northern Foods. The Baking Dept. consists of 10 lines that produce baked biscuits, the core element of our finished products. I am responsible for ensuring that we make the required amount of production, within the correct time frame, and to the required standard, the well-being and development of the staff within the dept, of which there can be upwards of 300 at any one time, and driving the dept. performance forward through projects.

My career so far…
Joined The Northern Foods’ Graduate Scheme in September 1998 straight from University. My first role was within Fox’s Biscuits whereby I was a Team Leader responsible for a few small chocolate biscuit lines. This was challenging as I joined in the midst of peak season production for our Christmas orders.

After six months, I moved to another area, whereby I was a Team Leader for the line manufacturing our ‘Triples’ product. This brought new challenges, as it was contained new processes. The product is one of our best sellers and therefore brought pressures to ensure we did not fail to satisfy our customers.

In January 2000, I was promoted to Plant Manager for the Moulding Dept. This was very exciting as my project was to commission a multi-million pound piece of equipment and launch the ‘Echo’ product. This product was our most important launch for 10 years, and understandably involved lots of high profile work. This was very enjoyable and we were successful, as the ‘Echo’ product was labeled the ‘fastest growing biscuit ever’!

I was promoted to my current role in April 2001.

What does your job involve in a typical day?
It is fair to say that I don’t have a ‘typical day’, which is one of the most enjoyable elements of my job. Each day brings new and exciting challenges, which I can never predict!

However, my first task is to meet the Night shift at 06:30 and find out what has happened through the previous night. This will last approx. 30 mins.

07:00 Meet my Team leaders and ensure they are all aware of the day’s production plan and raise any issues that will need addressing. This is very useful as it sets us all up for the day!

07:30 Receive my computer reports detailing the production output from the previous day. This is important as I reconcile what we produced from the requirements that were issued to us from our Planning Dept. If we have failed to complete any orders we will need to re-schedule the day’s production in order to complete them.08:00 Meet my boss, the Factory Manager. Here, I update him with all the relevant information, both on yesterday’s production, and the day ahead.

08:15 Spend time in the department walking up and down my lines ensuring that we have no breakdowns and chatting to my staff on the lines. This is important, as it keeps me up-to-date with my line staff.

09:00 Breakfast

09:30 – 11:30 Usually involves meetings. These range from looking at new product launches with our Marks & Spencer Commercial Team, to Engineering improvements!

12:00 Daily Production Meeting. Here, I get together with the other Production Managers and the Factory Manager to discuss all relevant issues and departmental performance.

12:30 Lunch

13:00 Spend time in the department.

14:00 De-brief my opposite number, who will work all afternoon, of everything that has happened today. And then it’s home time………

It is worthy of note, that throughout the day my pager is constantly bleeping with the new un-predictable challenges I spoke of earlier!

What do you like most about your job?
There are 2 elements of my job that I really enjoy. The first is people, and the people that I come in contact with every day are great! Most people are really happy at work, and this allows there to be enjoyable ‘banter’ between us all!

The second is the un-predictability and excitement of having new challenges each day. Solving these provides satisfaction, as most days I can leave work knowing that I can see the results of my work, by actually over-coming the challenges.

What skills are required in your job?
The skills required in my job include, problem-solving, excellent communication, planning, coaching and leading people, and most importantly, listening.

How many people work for you?
I have around 10 people directly reporting in to me, and in addition there can be between 200 and 300 people working on the lines, in the department, at any one time, who indirectly report in to me.

What is your advice to people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?
If you are looking for a fast moving, exciting, challenging and ever-changing environment, then don’t look elsewhere!