“When I first came into the business I wasn't sure I'd enjoy working on the shop
floor, surrounded by humming machinery; but I've surprised myself. I'm loving every
minute of it.
I'm working on a project that aims to reduce the costs of our production - this is
no easy task! Over the past few weeks I've been working with operators on a machine
that gives us the biggest down-time, and looking at ways to improve its performance.
One of my favourite things about my job is that I not only get to work with project
engineers, but also operators and fitters; it gives a really good insight into the
whole picture of manufacturing.”
“There are probably more males than females here, but although I was a bit daunted
at first, everyone has a great sense of humour and it’s easy to get along. To be
honest, I was very surprised with the environment because I thought it would be unclean,
smelly or dingy. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Some areas such as the Clean Room, where the fan blades are assembled, are reputed
to be cleaner than an operating theatre!”
“I have had 7 different roles across 4 different sites... By working in the pharmaceutical
industry you are doing something to make people better and improve their quality
of life and that is very important to me.
I had two job offers to choose from in my final year at University, I selected this
one for the reason above. Oh and it paid a bit more money!!”
“Working internationally means we’re often not working when the US or Philippines
are working. Spreadsheet design and analysis tool creation also takes up some of
the day. This is where you can really use your skills to create tools the team can
If you want to get to the top in a company, then the usual route is through sales
or accountancy. Physicists working in research or product development might expect
to be able to reach positions as departmental heads. But a move to sales, possibly
via marketing, is probably necessary for further progression.
One of the advantages of working with the company is the variety. “You can work on
so many projects, both civil and military, with time scales of anything from six
months to several years. Your personal choice is respected — some people work only
on civil projects.”
“Much of my job is visiting clients, so I’m a hotdesker, which is good because you
get to sit with different people in the hotdesk areas. And you’re given a place to
store your things.
The company recognises the people who put in the added effort. It offers once-in-a-lifetime
incentive trips, and recently I organised a sailing trip for my team. My career goal
is to be part of the senior management team.”
“Each day is completely different and sometimes can be completely unexpected! For
example, a major healthcare story can break in the morning – so we have to react
to as quickly as possible and reply to questioning journalists with informed statements.
On days with no unexpected developments, I am involved with: meetings with the marketing
teams, teleconferences with PR agencies, meetings with the medical team and writing
“Nothing quite compares to this - a room full of people, a challenging production
target and a tight deadline (no one can move Easter for you!). I have not managed
a large team of people before. Team Leader placement is the only way to really understand
the day to day running of a production line, the problems faced and how what happens
in the office directly impacts how the factory operates.”
“I support the business from the people side of things - employee relations, team
building, team events, salary review and talent management. There are many specialisms
within HR, e.g. compensation, training and recruitment. I am a generalist so I cover
I deal with people from different sites so I often have to travel for meetings. I
deal with different requests and individual cases, liaising with a variety of people.
There are also different annual initiatives throughout the year that need to be
“We ensure that employees are fit to do their jobs and that nothing they do at work
is going to make them unwell. If someone is off work we try to negotiate ways to
get them back to work as quickly as possible.
If someone is at work but not fully fit we advise how the workplace can be adapted.
We look at ways to reduce stress so employees can work to their full capacity.
We also run training sessions on ergonomics, and for employees working with specific
types of compounds.”
“Each day is variable which is one reason I like the job. A typical day might be
running through a process step or reaction as part of an assessment of a new manufacturing
route, and organising teams to investigate or troubleshoot plant issues.
Desk time might be researching alternative catalysts for a process or talking to
suppliers who are running a process developed in our lab.”
These come in two types: production line executives and wholesale sales representatives.
Production line executives coordinate production on the factory floor. They supervise
production employees, check inventory levels, make certain sales representatives’
orders are being filled, and oversee equipment maintenance and employee needs. They
are based in manufacturing plants, where they work closely with employees and put
in predictable hours.
Wholesale sales representatives, who make up over 70% of manufacturing executives,
are salespeople. They spend most of their time on the road, meeting with clients,
recruiting new business, and checking shipments and customers’ inventory levels.
Manufacturing executives also generate sales reports, analyze figures, and file expense
reports, so any work experience that demonstrates comfort with numbers is welcomed.
Former wholesale sales representatives hold most of the upper-level management positions
at manufacturing companies.
“I am responsible for a production of several products, from obtaining the raw materials
through to manufacture and packaging of the tablets and capsules. I manage a team
of 50 people - operators, first line managers, technical staff and planners. It’s
my job to ensure the continuous supply of products to tight deadlines.”
“I am a senior rep; my role is to promote my company’s medicines to health care professionals
within a given territory. I have sales target that I have to meet, and regularly
monitor my business plans to achieve this.
“My other duties include being a mentor to new reps, and caretaking the team in my
manager’s absence. I see doctors in the morning, pharmacists in the afternoon, then
twice a week team meetings.”
“I am adjusting to the fleet-footed pace of a small business. My role will be to
support the Procurement Manager in developing relationships with ingredient suppliers.
This is a world away from managing a shift on the Cadbury Mini Eggs production line.
I will soon be travelling across Europe to visit suppliers and discover how they
produce their goods for us using organic farming methods.”
“The transition from field sales into the office has been a challenging one. On a
day-to-day basis the two roles really couldn't be any more different and I'd be lying
if I said it wasn't somewhat of a culture shock.
However I really value the time I spent in field sales and I firmly believe that
there is no better introduction to the business.
My new role is in Consumer Marketing as an Assistant Brand Manager working on our
permissible indulgence agenda. It's a really exciting place to be...”
“I knew I didn't want a job that meant I was based at my desk all day and provided
me with variety. Well I got one!
Yesterday I spent the whole day up and down the 100+ stairs of the factory many times,
following process lines to ensure diagrams are correct, peering inside milk tanks
and measuring cleaning chemical strengths in the lab.
The day before that I was in and out of meetings all day. As a process engineer one
of the key attributes is to be accountable; never believe what you are told, always
go and check it yourself and always follow up the work you start.”
Manufacturing engineering graduates generally begin their careers working in teams
with other engineers to design a process or a production system for a phase of a
With experience they may work as a production engineer who integrates the different
processes and parts needed to create a finished product. Or they might take a wide
view of the entire process, including supplies, distribution, cost control, resource
management and marketing.
Throughout their work manufacturing engineers are concerned about creating a quality
product that meets customer needs in an efficient, safe and cost-effective way
8:00 a.m.: Check in with people in the lab; review tasks for the day to understand
what issues are on the table.
9:00 a.m.: Have a weekly two-hour meeting to review general project status.
11:00 a.m.: Meet with one or both senior direct reports to review the progress of
12:00 p.m.: Check in with BS/MS direct reports and redirect resources, as needed.
1:00 p.m.: Meet with program management or IT to discuss ongoing data programs.
2:00 p.m.: Attend a cross-functional meeting with representatives of other departments
to ensure workload is properly staffed and that work is moved from one department
to another smoothly
3:00 p.m.: Meet with my entire group for presentation of data and goal-sharing
4:00 p.m.: Catch up on email, approve orders, do paperwork, check inventory, talk
with purchasing or quality about ongoing issues,
5:00 p.m.: Meet with clinical trials staff to discuss timelines and preparedness
for clinical trials
6:00 p.m.: Commute home
8:00 p.m.: Read journal articles and keep up with literature.
“Have you ever passed by a factory or building and wondered what goes on inside?”
Great introduction to what people in manufacturing do, through the eyes of Michael,
a plant engineering technician, Amy, one of the maintenance team, and Tim, a systems
technologist. [Follow the link then select ‘Products 2’ on the left-hand tabs, then
‘Manufacturing Now’ near the foot of the panel. Note that this whole video runs for
over 12 minutes.]