5 minute read
I studied mechanical engineering at the university. As part of my degree, I worked for Kimberly-Clark. A big American company who makes different kinds of paper – toilet paper, diapers, and things like that. Once I completed my studies, they hired me, and I worked there for almost four years.
I was in Budapest Airport when a recruitment guy called me about a job at Lantmännen Unibake UK. I had never heard about Lantmännen Unibake before, I couldn’t pronounce the name, and I knew nothing about the food industry. But I was very interested in the job because it was a new challenge, and I needed that. Besides, I thought that the smell of bread was better than the smell from a paper mill.
When I started in Lantmännen Unibake I remember thinking that it was a very different environment than what I was used to. The offices were much smaller, everyone’s doors were open, and if you wanted to talk to someone you didn’t have to make time in their calendar first. It was very different from being part of an enormous corporation where a lot of the things you are told and encouraged to do come by mandate from another country.
My responsibility as an Engineering Project Manager is to improve our two sites in the UK by building, purchasing, and installing new equipment, and by maintaining our existing equipment. It’s an office job but sometimes I find an excuse to help with some machinery at the factory. I can’t help myself. I love being around the machines.
What really motivates me in my job is that I can walk around at the bakery and see all the differences I have made. It doesn’t always go perfect but most of the time I pride myself on what I have been part of. When I look out the window from my office at the 2nd floor, I can see straight into the factory and watch the production line.
I have been in Lantmännen Unibake for more than five years. Earlier in my career, I didn’t think that I would stay in the same job for that long. In my previous job I worked at four different sites within three years. I enjoyed it, but there was always a sense of leaving. In this job it’s different. I can’t see what I would get by going somewhere else when all the opportunities and challenges are right here in front of me.
The best advice I have ever received came from my manager in my previous position. He was fantastic. He had a little notebook. Every night before he went to sleep, he made notes from the day so that he could go back and see what he had done. He always used to nail me for the details. Tom, he would say, you need to know the details.
The biggest mistake I made in my career came from not paying enough attention to the details. I was running a large project in our bakery in Bedford a couple of years ago. I had bought some small equipment to complement a new line. Part of it being a metal detector. We use metal detectors on the line to make sure that there are no metal objects in the bread. I ordered the metal detector from the supplier, waited eight weeks for it to arrive, and when it came it was obvious that it was way too small. I had based it on wrong dimensions because I was sloppy. There was nothing to be done. I couldn’t return it, so I had to buy a new one. I knew I couldn’t hide a 300-kilo metal detector so as soon as it happened, I told my colleagues. To this day they are kind enough to remind me about that little incident every now and then. The metal detector is still sitting in a box in our yard waiting for someone to use it.
I have great memories from travelling with Lantmännen Unibake. I especially remember a project management course where we stayed just outside Copenhagen. I was there with a colleague from the UK. It was on that trip we realized that Lantmännen Unibake is much more than a factory in the UK that makes burger buns. You can watch the videos, and you can read the articles; but it isn’t until you visit Scandinavia yourself that you understand the spirit of the company, and what we are all part of. Passing company lorries on the motorway, meeting colleagues from all over the world combined with Copenhagen in the summertime and restaurants in the evenings... Those few days were almost like a punch in the face. I will never forget it.