Published: 23 Dec 2009
DARREN GEDGE - PINNEYS OF SCOTLAND, PART OF THE FINDUS GROUP TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
Being technical director can mean helping to source the best raw materials, says Gedge. “As a partner to Marks & Spencer, we have to work with the retailer’s approved list of suppliers. Because of weather-related problems in the Orkneys, I’m currently having to get another supplier approved – and approved at the highest level.”
The four specific streams a technical director will become involved in are: the environment, process control, quality and food safety, he says. In addition, there are important aspects of the job to do with equipment optimisation and people and culture. “As technical director, your vision needs to be strategic,” says Gedge. “What does that mean? It’s about integration: integrating technical elements with overall business growth, and integrating across the group. Can we share best practice with – and transfer technology from – group sites not working with chilled foods? Externally, it’s about taking part in round tables and sharing best practice. Internally, it’s also about value engineering.”
Gedge started with a degree in food manufacture: a four-year sandwich course including a year in industry. He was then sponsored on an MSc course by former government department the Ministry of Agriculture. That helped him jump straight into a quality assurance (QA) management role. He also spent three and a half years in retail QA. “You have to drive your own success by making your achievements visible,” he says. “I progressed to being site technical manager, senior technical manager and senior posts with responsibility for a number of junior technical and QA managers. I first became a technical director 12 years into my career.”
KEVIN PADDISON - BLACK SHEEP BREWERY, BEDALE
TECHNICAL SERVICES ENGINEER
Kevin Paddison’s dad had a shopfitting business. So instead of becoming a stockbroker or lawyer as his mum wanted, Kevin Paddison began perfecting the skills of plumbing, joinery and electrics. Today, Paddison, 40, is technical services engineer with Black Sheep Brewery in Bedale in the Yorkshire Dales. His job is managing the installation of Black Sheep hand pumps in bars and pubs and their service and repair. “I do the bit that gets the beer out of the cask and into the glass,” he says.
He installs ‘pythons’ – the looms of pipes that carry beer from the cellar to the bar. There’s a mechanical engineering element to his job, he says. “You’ve got to get your pipes through walls, under bars and through bars. There’s also an element of joinery and building because you have got to open up bars or walls to put the piping through.”
With an Ordinary National Diploma in business and finance from Harrogate College, Paddison spent six years with his dad before the business was sold. Then he heard that Paul Theakston, former Theakston’s Brewery chairman, had bought the old Theakston’s premises in Masham,
north Yorkshire, to start up Black Sheep. “I decorated the offices and put the brewery floors in. Then I asked Paul if there was chance of a
full time job. He said what about doing the pump fitting. The job is so varied. No two jobs are the same. And you’ve got to be prepared to react quickly if a pump goes down,” says Paddison.
His highlight has been Black Sheep’s own bespoke hand pump launched a year ago. The brewery wanted its own illuminated pump. “I was involved in the technical aspects of how it would work. I can put my name to parts of it.”
And the next five years? “I’d like to think I wasn’t chasing around all over the place and banging my head in a cellar all the time – a more managerial role!”