Degree and University: Reading University, Food Science with Business – 1 year in Industry
Job Title: Graduate Product Technologist, Sainsbury’s
What do you actually do? I work closely with suppliers and buyers to ensure that we offer fresh, safe and healthy food. As a technologist you take ownership of a product area, in which you are responsible for ensuring all packaging and artwork is correct, making any necessary nutritional amends, regular sampling, benchmarking against the rest of the market, and ensuring the overall quality of the product is of the standard the customer expects.
Why did you decide to go into retail? Having done a placement working with suppliers, retail seemed like the next step for my development. Being a complete food fanatic retail seemed like the best opportunity to experience as many areas of the industry as possible – this has proved true, I’ve spent three months in Dairy and have so far worked with a range of products including chilled desserts, creams, butters and pastry.
How did you find out about your course? The Sainsbury’s Product Technology Graduate scheme is well known in the food industry and I first heard about it through my university, there are also 16 other schemes on offer here at Sainsbury’s offering just as exciting opportunities, from buying to H.R., all giving great experience in the retail world.
Would you undertake further training to progress in your career? Sainsbury’s Product Technology Graduate Scheme itself gives you a comprehensive training programme that I am in the process of completing. They supply you with any training that you may need to progress in your role as a Technologist as well as to further your career and development. I would strongly recommend a sandwich course, I did one with two, six month placements and it proved to be my stepping stones into the food and retail industry.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides? Working in close relationships with suppliers to develop products of such a high standard. Knowing that products I have worked on from packaging to process are consumed and enjoyed by Sainsbury’s customers all over the country.
Product Technology is continually evolving and fast moving so staying on the ball can sometimes become quite tiring.
What skills do you think you need to succeed? Passion and drive for food, relationship skills to build relationships internally and externally and attention to detail is essential in all responsibilities of the role. Juggling skills are definitely crucial!
What advice would you give graduates wanting to come into the sector? Be prepared to drive your own development in a highly competitive, fast moving industry. Any work experience that you can gain in retail will be invaluable, you will gain an insight into who our customers are and what they expect from us on a quality level and a business level.