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Published on: 23 Dec 2009



John Orr took a masters in manufacturing and electrical engineering with a diploma in business management at Strathclyde University. Now 32, he is production manager for the Nescafé packing department at Nestlé’s Hayes factory in Middlesex, responsible for a team of 40 people. “We get the coffee in bulk from manufacturing, put it into jars, label it, pack it, put it on a pallet and send it out to our distribution centre.”

What they didn’t tell him at university is that manufacturing and engineering is all about people, he says. “It is a very challenging role – you’re driving quality, you’re driving productivity, you’re managing cost. You need to have an understanding of a production environment, an understanding of manufacturing and how the production process works. But the key is managing people – getting the best out of people and motivating them.”

The job is all about continuous improvement, he says. “How can we improve our safety, our quality, our processes, our line productivity? But most importantly, how can we develop our people and develop our skills and competencies?”

After university, Orr took a year out travelling before joining Nestlé’s graduate scheme. He spent three years at various sites before moving into coffee production as industrial performance manager for the new Dolce Gusto factory in Tutbury, Staffordshire. “We put 14 lines into a brand new factory.” From there he moved to Hayes 10 months ago. “The really enjoyable bit is seeing the team work together to achieve something. You know how tough it has been to get there and how many people have worked extremely hard to make it happen. That’s the key thing for me.”

“The biggest perk? It is working for Nestlé. It’s a fantastic company. There are opportunities for development all over the world. I would like to do an assignment outside the UK and get experience of a role outside manufacturing to gain another perspective on the business.”