Name: Alan McDonald
Degree and University: Mechanical Engineering MEng, 2.1, The University of Liverpool
Job title: Development Process Manager, Nestle
What do you actually do? Within the Engineering department at Nestle, Fawdon, I have been given responsibility for running a full Construction, Design and Management (CDM) program, which basically is an analysis of the efficiency of each department. I have also recently joined the team of internal auditors which has given me a more in-depth perspective to work from. During my time with Nestle I have undertaken projects which have included improving sweet quality of Rolo and to improve the storage of sweets in the Rowntree brand to reduce waste. These projects have meant that a large portion of my time has been dedicated to actively working with Technicians to solve day-to-day problems to ensure the machines are running as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Were you always interested in Engineering? I became interested in engineering from about the age of sixteen after my design and technology teacher recommended it as a future career. I organised a summer placement at Ferguson Engineering to find out more about an engineering career and the industry. Through contacts I made during my summer placement I got the opportunity to extend my experience by doing design work for Cooper Racing and this really sparked my interest for a career in engineering.
How did you find out about this particular career/Job? Towards the end of my degree I began to look for my first engineering job. As recommended by the university I concentrated my search on Milkround, a graduate recruitment site as well as applying for positions through a graduate recruitment agency. I was looking for employment with a large, well known company that would provide the opportunity for career progression, although until I was called for interview at Nestle I was unsure as to the specific role I was hoping to undertake.
Would you undertake further study in order to gain promotion? Yes, I would undertake any further study required for promotion; in fact whilst at university I completed my Masters in mechanical engineering, the academic requirements for gaining chartered status, which is an aspiration of mine.
What do you like most about your job and are there any downsides? I enjoy the range of activities and responsibilities that make up my job – the fact that no two days are ever the same. As an engineer I expected to have an office job, sat at a PC 9 till 5, but with my role I spend a lot of my time around the factory working with a variety of colleagues which I enjoy.
As of yet I haven’t identified any downsides to what I do, I am enjoying my work at the moment and I expect to for the foreseeable future.
What skills do you need to succeed in this sector? I think there are many skills that are required to be successful, most importantly being able to communicate with colleagues, whether onsite or over the phone or by email, and the ability to analyse information quickly and accurately, employing your academic knowledge in real world applications in order to give feedback to resolve problems.
What advice would you give graduates coming into this sector? During their degree course I would recommend that they gain some kind of experience, such as a summer placement or weekend job, to give them a chance to see if they enjoy engineering as it really is in industry, not just from an academic perspective.