MY name is Anne Bencze and my career in the food industry began in 2003 with a family-run poultry processor. I took a summer job in the factory as a production operator and I loved it so much that I never left.
During my time working for the company it was acquired by a leading poultry processor, and the company transitioned from a family-run business to one owned by a large company. At the time of the transition I was a Department Manager, having been promoted several times over the years. This role entailed managing several busy production lines, with approximately 65 staff.
After a total of eight years in the poultry industry, I moved to a frozen storage warehouse, assisting the Despatch Manager and managing stock control for multiple companies.
In 2012, the opportunity arose to become Technical Manager for the site. This involved annual BRC Food Safety and BRC Storage and Distribution audits, Red Tractor, EHO audits, and maintaining the Quality Management Systems for what had by this time become a very busy site, with the demand for export worldwide increasing.
During my time as Technical Manager I felt that I was perhaps lacking in the technical knowledge required to carry out my role to the standard to which I aspired. I began studying a BSc (Hons) Food Technology Degree part-time at CAFRE, Loughry campus.
The Degree course, which is validated by Ulster University, had a variety of modules, including Food Design, Food Industry Packaging, Food Tech-nology Developments, Lean Man-
ufacture, Applied Food Processing and Environmental and Quality Management. I was able to apply the knowledge I was acquiring on my course at work. After four years of hard work, I graduated in 2017.
From my first year of studying, I fell in love with Loughry campus, even with balancing work and part-time study. The staff, the environment, the location, ev-erything about it was so friendly and had a ‘homely’ feel.
When job vacancies were advertised at CAFRE, I had no hesitation in applying. I was delighted to start working as a Food Technologist within the Meat Team in September 2020. While this has presented challenges, with finding my feet in a new role whilst working from home, the support which I have received from the rest of the team has been amazing.
The variety of work is incredible, from providing advice and support, developing quality systems and factory layouts for new premises, reviewing food legislation to creating training and development courses for the industry.
CAFRE encourages staff pro-fessional development. Having already completed HACCP and Auditing qualifications, I am currently enrolled on the Level 5 Diploma in Packaging Technology and Food Microbiology for Non-microbiologists courses – all of
which are available through CAFRE.
So here I am six months on, working and learning to expand my knowledge, and loving every minute of it!
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