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Inspiring our leaders of tomorrow


Sarah Brown describes the first ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ lecture and BRC Global Standards' ambitions for the new series of events.

Since 1998, BRC Global Standards has championed food safety through publication of its Global Standard for Food Safety. This was developed by food industry experts from retailers, manufacturers and food service organisations. The Standard provides a framework to manage product safety, integrity, legality and quality, and the operational controls for these criteria in the food and food ingredient manufacturing, processing and packing industries.

Working closely with the food industry, BRC Global Standards became aware of the need for manufacturers to grow and develop their leaders of tomorrow. While those in senior technical roles have strong networks, it can often be hard for early or mid-career food technologists to break into them or develop their own. They may not have an opportunity to hear about and learn from the personal journeys of those in more senior positions.

To address this need, BRC Global Standards is promoting a new ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ lecture series, which aims to bring a more personal face to the industry. It has encouraged those in senior technical and HR roles in the food sector to think about their most talented and promising team members, who are passionate about developing their careers, and to bring them along to the lectures. Since the events are aimed at inspiring and supporting the next generation, tickets for the Leaders of Tomorrow lecture series are free.

Alan Botham, Technical Services Director at 2 Sisters Food Group, shares his experiences of gaining staff buy-in to document recipes at United Biscuits when stricter legislation about ingredient listings came into effect.

The keynote speaker for BRC Global Standards’ first lecture in Manchester was Alan Botham, Technical Services Director at 2 Sisters Food Group. Though his forefathers had been tradesmen, he persisted with his studies to become the first of his family to attend university. Being keen on physics, chemistry and biology at high school, he went on to study microbiology at the University of Leeds.

At first, Alan didn’t have any inkling of wanting to work in the food industry. But, living in Burton-on-Trent, he soon found a quality assurance role at the Bovril factory. He was then in the right place at the right time to take over the role of microbiologist for the company.

Alan spoke engagingly of chemistry and biology experiments in his youth and applying his knowledge of physics when pumping whipping cream at United Biscuits in Devon. He talked of taking chances when making the decision to move from picturesque Dartmoor to Grimsby to further his career.

Alan shared lessons he had learned about managing staff and gaining their buy-in to new initiatives. An example being the need to document product recipes for labelling required under new legislation. As United Biscuits’ youngest technical manager, he learned a lot by watching others work and asking questions.

Alan was working in production management when the Food Safety Act came into effect. He became a strong advocate for total quality, using the SHQQC objectives: safety, hygiene, quality, quantity and cost. He was then heavily involved in auditing at Northern Foods. The certification body was one of the first 11 to audit against the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety.

Alan gave the audience a good insight into his own career progression against the backdrop of food industry developments. His experience demonstrates the variety of opportunities available within the food industry. He also shared good advice, both during his presentation and in the Q&A session. He spoke of good behaviours and attitudes when working with colleagues at all levels.

‘Having the opportunity to share my 35 years in the food industry with the ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ allowed me to recall the events that I had experienced and the decisions taken during that career. For me that was very enjoyable and I hope it was for the attendees as well’, Alan said after the event. ‘I learnt on reflection that I took chances and sought new opportunities when they were presented. Not all of these were successful, but even so I learnt from my mistakes. I would encourage all food industry professionals to take a chance and try something new when the occasion presents itself’.

After hearing Alan’s story, the audience enjoyed an instructive and interactive presentation from Judi James. A leading expert in communication and body language, Judi talked about using body language to best effect. Her presentation consisted of many topical examples of good and bad body language.

Janette Graham, Group Apprenticeship Programme Manager at 2 Sisters Food Group, joined the two speakers as chair of the event. Participating in the Q&A session, she spoke of the value of apprenticeships and the 2 Sisters Food Group graduate programme. She also shared her thoughts on positive behaviours in the workplace.

As a new event on the calendar, the team at BRC Global Standards was pleased to have a good turnout for Leaders of Tomorrow in Manchester. Attendee feedback on the night and after the event was positive. Emily Sturgess, Technical Services Manager at Rowan Foods, tweeted on the night, ‘Great evening at the BRC Global Standards Leaders of Tomorrow event. Inspired way to showcase the great opportunities the food industry can offer!’

Other attendees felt they ‘took a lot away from the event’; coming away ‘very pleased and inspired from the experience’. Stephen Myers, Technical Manager at NSF Certification, said he ‘felt the speakers all complimented each other and that being exposed to their experiences and knowledge will benefit [his] own career’.

There is a definite appetite for more Leaders of Tomorrow lectures. BRC Global Standards is pleased to announce that its next lecture will be in June 2018 in London. A third lecture will follow in the latter half of 2018.

Sarah Brown, Events Manager, BRC Global Standards Events Team, Floor 2, 7 Harp Lane,

London EC3R 6DP

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