Over the past year, CareersNow! has partnered with FoodGrads to organize virtual mentorship sessions showcasing the exciting careers in the food and beverage processing industry.
Students and new graduates have met with leading professionals to get great career advice and learn about exciting career pathways in the industry. Some of the careers covered over the last year include:
- Sales & Marketing
- Communications/Food writing
- Engineering (Packaging, food, mechanical)
- Production/ Operations/ Continuous Improvement
- Human Resources
- Supply Chain/ Logistics/ Buyer
- Sanitation/ Health, Safety & Environmental
- Finance & Accounting
- Product Development / Research & Development
- Auditing/Food Safety
- Skilled Trades
Here are some highlights from our previous mentorship sessions to give you a taste of some of these different career pathways!
Sanitation/ Health, Safety & Environmental
Name: Morolayo Mould
Title: Health Safety Environment Supervisor
Where she works: Kerry
How did Morolayo get to where she is today?
Morolayo has a background in food technology from Nigeria. About five years ago, she moved to Canada with her family and started work briefly with Maple Leaf Foods and then worked for a short with Coca-Cola. After that Morolayo started working at Chudleigh’s Ltd as a QA Specialist and it was during that time, that she realized that she had a passion for health and safety.
Realizing she didn’t have the credentials she started taking courses at the University of Victoria on the subject. Morolayo also joined the health and safety committee at Chudleigh’s which eventually led her to become their Health and Safety coordinator when the role opened. Morolayo currently works as a Health Safety Environment Supervisor at Kerry Foods.
What does a typical day look like as a Health Safety Environment Supervisor at Kerry?
For Morolayo, it depends on the day. Some days are easy but other days are crazy like when there is an unplanned event such as an injury. However, Morolayo’s normal day begins by looking at emails or completing workplace reports. At the beginning of each shift, she goes to the facility staff meeting where she gives a safety tip of the day and talks about any incidents from the previous day or training updates. Afterwards, she then goes to the production plant to check on staff and makes sure that everyone is working safely.
Name: Gireesh Raina
Title: Food Safety Inspector
Where he works: The Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
How did Gireesh get to where he is today?
Gireesh majored in Dairy Studies at the National Dairy Research Institute in India. After his studies, he got a co-op opportunity with Nestle at their infant cereal production facility and soon worked as a full-time shift supervisor and team lead for HACCP. After working in multiple food safety roles Gireesh started work at Saputo in 2010 as a HACCP coordinator, leading multiple facilities in getting their BRC certifications. Today he works as a food safety inspector at the OMAFRA.
What does Gireesh currently do with his role at the OMAFRA?
Gireesh’s job is to help individuals who want to start their own dairy processing facilities. He helps them with understanding all the policies and regulations in the dairy industry which includes selecting the right manufacturing sites and machinery. Gireesh is responsible for performing their facility inspections and auditing documentation. He also does food plant inspections outside the dairy industry like on-farm inspections for food processors of maple syrup and honey.
What does Gireeesh love about his job?
“Every day is different. It keeps me very motivated meeting different people and helping them to solve their issues.”
Name: Alvin Alexander
Title: Maintenance Mechanic
Where he works: FGF Brands
How did Alvin get to where he is today?
Alvin comes from Chandigarh, India where he finished his degree in Engineering. Like many other mechanical engineers in India, the only industry that he was exposed to in college was the automobile manufacturing industry. Alvin got his first job at MicroTurners, which is one of the largest OEM parts manufacturers for Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki. In June 2016 Alvin moved to Canada but struggled to find a job so he took bridging courses and eventually got a job at Ingram Micro as an order picker and through an internal posting he got the opportunity to work as a product tester for Amazon returns. After completing his contract Alvin came across FGF from a friend who told him to get into the food manufacturing business. Today, he works at FGF Brands as a Maintenance Mechanic.
How does someone get into the skilled trades?
“There are three ways to get into the skilled trades (in Ontario):
- Go to school like a college and get a diploma or a degree in the skilled trades.
- Find an employer that gets you into the apprentice program from the skilled trades colleges.
- If you have experience and worked a certain amount of time you can challenge the college. They will recognize the hours and give you the certification.”
Production/ Operations/ Continuous Improvement
Name Patrick N.
Title: Dairy Supply Manager
Where he works: Gay Lea Foods
How did Patrick get to where he is today?
Out of high school, Patrick went into the Canadian Military because he didn’t want to apply for a university program when he wasn’t sure of what he wanted in a career. Patrick ended up in the food industry through some friends who were hiring at the time. His first exposure to food was working in a meat processing plant in Ontario as a labourer and a machine operator. From there he worked his way up after seeing how many different roles are available in the industry.
He was then recruited by Gay Lea Foods due to his talent and experience as a lead hand. Gay Lea continued to support Patrick’s career growth going from Operations Supervisor to Plant Supervisor at Gay Lea’s largest facility and now he is the Dairy Supply Manager at Gay Lea Foods.
What are the skills that you look for when hiring a student in the field of continuous improvement?
“Seek to understand what transferable skills are really important. You see so many people come in the organization but there are two sides to the story. Data and analytics can only go so far and if you can come up with fantastic plans to make a process more efficient and leaner, that is great. But if you don’t go on the floor and understand the process ins and outs, understand what the employees have to deal with then you aren’t being realistic. There are a lot of times they can actually fail. So, seek to understand because there is a difference between practicality and reality and having that mindset and understanding of what other people’s investments are is important.”
Engineering (Packaging, food, mechanical)
Name: Swarna Ariyakumar
Title: Senior Packaging Engineer
Where she works: Mars Canada Inc
How did Swarna get to where she is today?
Swarna graduated from the University of Toronto in Chemical Engineering and was always fascinated by the manufacturing industry and understanding how things were made. After graduation, she didn’t really know where she wanted to go but because of the recession she had to take the first opportunity, she could get which was as a Quality Technician at Mars Pet Care where she would collect samples at the plant and test them.
Swarna got curious about packaging after talking with one of the associates on the line. She expressed her interest to her manager and then set up a one-on-one conversation with the packaging development manager which got her foot in the door. When an opportunity for a packaging technologist came up, she applied and now she’s been in packaging development for 10 years.
What does Swarna love about her job?
“There really are a lot of opportunities for us to grow and I don’t think a lot of people are aware of that. There are lots of different segments, different brands, different products that you’re working with and a lot of opportunities to really learn and grow . . . What I really love about packaging is the opportunity to create both a technical piece, but also a creative piece.
You’re working with multiple groups. You’re working with supply chain on creating efficiencies. You’re working with quality [control] and you’re working with customer marketing and sales to understand the retail landscape and what consumers are looking for in consumer research. Every day is so different and you’re not working on the same thing every day.”
Want to watch more CareersNOW! Mentorship sessions? You can watch them all here.
Ready to start your exciting career in Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry?
As a CareersNOW! Jobseeker, you’ll have access to Job Ready skills training, online job fairs, future mentorship sessions and other resources to learn more about the exciting opportunities in the industry!