Our series of blogs from the Food & Drink Federation continues, highlighting career and work experience opportunities in the food industry, with this interview from Jessica Harvey, Project Engineer for Global Chocolate, Bournville (Mondelēz International).

Jessica Harvey: “There is a real gap in people with the right skills applying for jobs in the food and drink manufacturing industry, so consequently there are many more roles available compared to other career paths!”

Q. How did you get into engineering?

After completing the three-year Engineering graduate programme with Mondelēz International, I became the Procurement Innovation Manager for the Global Chocolate category in July 2013.

I’ve been lucky enough to fall into a career that I really love, as the careers guidance I received at school didn’t really give us specific advice on different industries or practical examples of STEM careers. It would have been great to have had more exposure to STEM careers; it’s something I’m keen to promote with STEMnet.

Q. What does your role entail?

I act as a business partner to the R&D teams, identifying the correct suppliers we need to work with to best fit our business and technical needs.

It’s a role that I absolutely love – I get to work with lots of different people from all aspects of the business. A huge part of my role is about connecting people together to work on new ideas, products and ways of working to ensure the collective business continues to innovate and grow.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really enjoy working on our innovation projects, being able to help shape the development of our new products and seeing the end results in the shops – and testing our new chocolates is always fun!

Enjoying my job is one of the reasons why I work with STEMnet as an Engineering Ambassador. I visit schools in the local area and share my career experiences, whilst promoting the food and drink manufacturing industry. I think having visible examples really helps to show the possibilities that are available. It’s something I wished we had had more of at school, as at that age I hadn’t been aware of the possibilities that existed in industry.

Q. Do you think engineering is a male dominated industry?

I think there’s a real misconception that the industry is a male-dominated one, but from my perspective R&D is very balanced and we have a large number of female engineers and scientists in the business. But we need more role models! There’s a real shortage of people with the right skills applying for jobs in the food and drink manufacturing industry, which means there are always roles available for good people.