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Kirsty Harrison

Kirsty is a food engineer for Cargill in Manchester

Kirsty Harrison

I joined Cargill in August 2012 as a Technical Management Trainee where I have spent the last 10 months in the position of Shift Coordinator. My role is to manage a team of nine process operators and technicians responsible for running a glucose manufacturing plant. This means making sure the plant is operating safely and efficiently to make the required amount of product at the correct quality to supply our customers.

On a day-to-day basis this can involve troubleshooting and giving technical support to the team to resolve any issues on the plant, authorising any maintenance work on the site and generally making sure the plant is operating as it should be. I work shifts (two 12 hour days followed by two 12 hour nights) which can be tiring but the time goes fast as there is always something to do! My time is spent out on the plant and in the control room and the job can be very hands-on which I like.

What subjects did you study for A-Level etc at school?

I studied Maths, Chemistry and Psychology at A-Level and did Business Studies to AS level.

What attracted you to a career as an engineer in the food and drink industry?

The food and drink industry is a huge industry with such a wide variety of products which makes it very interesting to work in. It’s a growing market and the demand will be always be there – people will always need to eat! It’s exciting to see the number of well-known brands that our product goes into and think “I helped make that!”

What's the most exciting project you've worked on so far?

I led a heat recovery project which involved installing a new heat exchanger to recover heat from process condensate to a fermentables wheat liquefact stream. I was given responsibility for the £150k budget and followed the project through from the design stage to commissioning. I worked with engineers from other departments to complete the mechanical, civil, electrical, instrumentation and software aspects of the project. It was great to see the project go from an idea on paper to being installed on the plant and coming online - it has been a big energy and cost saver and I’m proud to see the project has been a success.

What are your favourite parts of your job?

I enjoy working with my team and problem solving any issues that come up on the plant. Every day is different which keeps it interesting and it’s a very ‘finger on the pulse’ kind of job which I like. As a Technical Management Trainee with Cargill there are a lot of opportunities to move roles- within the next few months I will be transferring into a different position so I’m excited to see what that will bring.

What advice would you give to people considering the MEng Food Engineering course at Sheffield Hallam University?

The food industry is a great one to go into and will give you a huge variety of opportunities to pursue. I think you have to be willing to work hard and put the hours in.

What personal qualities are important for being an engineer?

As an engineer I think it’s important to keep challenging the norm and to keep coming up with new ideas on how to improve things. You need to enjoy problem-solving and be interested in learning about how things work. It helps to be quite resilient as well – an idea might not work the first time round and it’s important to be able to stay motivated even if things aren’t going quite to plan!

Favourite product produced by your company and why?

At Cargill Manchester the main product we make is glucose syrup which we supply to a lot of well-known customers such as Heineken, Nestlé and Kraft Foods. One of the co-products we make is Vital Wheat Gluten which we supply to Kellogg’s - this would have to be my favourite as I eat loads of cereal!

Ever wondered how they get the bubbles in a chocolate bar? Engineering, that’s how! Take a closer look at the following website...


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Added on: 22/08/2013