My career in food and drink

30 June 2020

"Every day is a school day! Even after 7 years in the business and developing in roles, I still find time to (and at times am forced to) learn new skills to better myself and add more value to the business.”

Stephen Finnie, European Engineering Project Manager, Baxters Food Group


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Q: How did you get started in your career in food and drink?

A: I was applying for jobs after university, andhonestly didn't realise that the food and drink industry even needed engineers – I applied to Baxters and got the job as a graduate project engineer.

Q: What was your route to get to this job and what are the entry qualifications?

A: I studied Physics and technical subjects at school and went on to complete a BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineer at Dundee University. From there I managed to secure my first position at Baxters as a Graduate Project Engineer. From there I became a fully fledged Project Engineer and now run the Project Engineering team in our European Business. A degree in engineering subject is a good start, alternatively people who have completed apprenticeships in engineering subjects can move into the projects side of things too.

Q: What did you study at school and how relevant were the subjects?

A: I studied Highers in physics, maths, English, German and geography; physics and maths.These helped me get into and through university to where I am now. I've used my German a few times to figure out that an engineer from a machine manufacturer didn't know how to fix a problem we were having. They all come in useful at some point.

Q: What does your job involve and what are your main responsibilities?

A: I manage a team of Project Managers/Engineers on a day to day basis and am ultimately responsible for ensuring that the team identify and deliver projects in line with the business priorities. I spend most of my time doing a few things: managing budgets, facilitating decision making processes and managing the expectations of our stakeholders (people like our CEO and some of our director).

Q: What is the best thing about your job?

The best bit has to be the long term strategic things that I get involved with, I get a real kick out of trying to figure things out that have big impact to the business in the future. From identifying constraints and risks, to communicating them in a visual manner to my stakeholders. This is absolutely the best bit. Second favourite bit is my team, they are a good bunch and help me get better at what I do on a daily basis (not always easily or seeing eye to eye!).

Q: Why were you attracted to a role in food and drink?

A: Honest answer is that it was a job that was going at the time and I needed it. I’ve never left though, which tells me I must love it for some reason or another. I think that there is security in food and drink as people will always need to eat and drink.

Q: Would you encourage others to consider a career in food and drink?

A: I definitely would! I think there are a huge array of skills that are required that almost everyone could find a job within this industry. The people are great. I have made some incredibly good friends over the last 7 years, and look forward to making more in the future.