By Aisling Vallely, BSc (Hons)
Degree in Food Technology graduate, CAFRE, Loughry Campus
MY name is Aisling Vallely and I currently work as a Technical Manager in Finnebrogue Artisan, Downpatrick, a rapidly expanding local food company that specialises in the manufacture of a range of top quality artisan products and most recently, vegan and vegetarian products.
I graduated from CAFRE, Loughry Campus in 2009 with a BSc (Hons) Degree in Food Technology. I thoroughly enjoyed my time studying at CAFRE and feel that I gained invaluable technical skills and experience through a ‘hands-on’ approach to learning. The modules within the programme were extremely industry focused, providing me with the necessary skills and confidence to fulfil my role as a Technical Manager.
A few years after I graduated from CAFRE, I gained invaluable experience by travelling to Australia and working for AUS-MEAT as an Auditor, gaining a wealth of knowledge that I was able to use within my current role at Finnebrogue Artisan.
Finnebrogue has provided the ability to be part of a team, developing and opening three factories within only three years: a state of the art sausage facility in March 2016, one of a kind bacon manufacturing site in December 2017 and, most recently, a vegan and vegetarian manufacturing site in January 2019. With the focus Finnebrogue puts on innovation and trying to be the best we can be, every day is busy, challenging and exciting.
As part of my role I direct the company’s Quality Management System to ensure compliance with standards such as those set by our valued customers and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
To help me achieve this, I manage and develop an outstanding team of technical staff. In recent years these positions have been filled by Loughry placement students and graduates who come with a good understanding of industry, practical knowledge, and are not afraid of hard work as a means of gaining industry knowledge and experience.
The Packaging & Meat Technology advisory teams at the college have been another source of support that I have found beneficial in areas such as changes in legislation and responses to general advisory requests in key technical or processing aspects of the business.
With the exceptional education and personal development opportunities I received at CAFRE, and with the ongoing support of the advisory teams, I feel that I have all the crucial skills and competencies I require to meet and exceed the daily challenges I encounter and the mind-set to keep ahead of the game!