Ever wondered what it’s like working in the food and drink industry? We spoke to Popchips, purveyors of scrumptious potato products, to get the low-down.
There’s a helluva lot of guesswork involved in job-hunting – wondering not only what a particular job function entails, but also what’s it like working in a specific industry. And so we set out to eradicate the mystery surrounding the realm of the edible, which meant probing Ben Heathorn, Commercial Manager at Popchips (a company that’s making a frighteningly tasty dent in the food and drink industry right now) with a few questions about life on the production line. Sweet, salty and sinless? Now that’s just our bag, baby.
1. What’s the most brilliant thing about working in the food and drink industry?
Apart from getting to consume delicious food all the time, I love the food industry because it’s so diverse – which sounds like a bit of a cliché, but it’s true. In essence, food and drink products are simple… however, getting them from concept through production, on to the shelf and then selling to consumers always throws up unique challenges that need to be solved on a daily basis.
2. We’re curious about the enigma that is Company Culture. Could you paint us a picture of a typical day at your office?
As we’re still a small business, our days are really varied – with a mix of internal and external meetings, getting work done and probably shifting around a load of Popchips boxes! It’s important that people are flexible and willing to get involved with whatever task is at hand. In my opinion, in order to have a fun, productive company culture it’s essential to have solid, well-defined company values. And that’s why we hire people with whom these values really resonate.
3. What do you find motivates your team most, from a perspective of:
It’s good to have a results-based culture and clearly defined objectives. Agreeing clearly defined objectives (KPIs, in jargon speak) for each employee means that both parties understand what is expected of them. It’s then down to the individual, with plenty of support from the company, to deliver against their objectives. This allows the employee to have responsibility for their own success, rather than a micro-management culture.
B) fostering good working relationships?
By having a work atmosphere that embraces real-time feedback – both positive and constructive – people know where they stand and are always able to develop their skills.
5. What would a successful internship look like to you?
A brilliant intern is eager to take on responsibility and add lots of value to the business, whilst learning loads of new skills in the process. Work experience is a great way for interns to find out what they enjoy… as well as things they don’t enjoy as much. It’s a learning curve for everyone involved. The main thing about internships is that they should always be mutually beneficial.
6. When evaluating entry-level candidates, what’s more important to you – a good degree or previous work experience (e.g. part-time shop work or a summer internship) – and why?
It depends on the role that we are recruiting for, but having a mix of both is always a good start! I definitely think having good part-time work experience is a significant advantage, as it shows that you’ve gained an understanding of business processes and how to work within a team, as well as learning the self-discipline needed to carry out good work.
7. Is there anything that gets your goat about the current bunch of graduates fresh in the job market?
I think current grads sometimes have a tendency to be too picky. When you’re young, it’s about getting a wide breath of experience to find out what you enjoy and dislike – you shouldn’t be afraid to try a few different roles, as you’re more likely to find out what you really enjoy that way. A bit of trial and error is rarely a waste of time, because the experience will most likely be of benefit later in your career. Very few people find their dream job straight away!
Is your whistle sufficiently whetted? Well, the good news is that the lovely people at Popchips are quite often looking for bright young things with a passion for potatoes. Crunchy glory awaits!
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