When we go grocery shopping, we’re used to seeing aisles full of stocked shelves.
But have you ever taken the moment to think about how all these delicious products got there?
Ensuring the grocery shelves are full for customers requires a team of professionals who plan, organize, and monitor the shipping, receiving, storage and distribution of all items coming from the processors. Among these teams of professionals are people like Roy Sudipto, Manager of Capital, MRO and Construction Procurement at Maple Leaf Foods.
We recently chatted with Roy about his career journey and why he chose to work in Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry.
Here is what he had to say:
You have several job titles at Maple Leaf Foods, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at the company?
Maple Leaf Foods is a food manufacturer, and they have plants across Canada and the United States. When you start building a plant or you are maintaining a plant, or you are extending a food line, you need capital and you need construction.
My role starts with whenever a plant is planning to do either a new project or an extension of their current building or manufacturing lines; they start planning on how they are going to execute it.
This is where I start getting involved because they have to buy things, they have to build things, and then they have to maintain those things. So, the building portion is the construction piece that I support them with. I help them with defining the scope of the project and then finding out who could be the best supplier to support them in the construction portion of that business. And then finally getting that construction executed and the building handed over to them so that they can start using it.
Next is the capital piece. In the building, you will normally have the equipment, which is going to support the manufacturing process. Generally speaking, we buy new machines. So that new capital is also supposed to be procured from suppliers. We try to go through an RFP process to find out who could be the best. I support the recommendation, the selection of the vendor, and finally the procurement of the items.
Once the installation piece is done, it’s handed over to production. But then what happens is the machine has to be maintained over its life. And that’s where my other role comes in, MRO: Maintenance, Reliability and Operations. Over the life of that machine, and whatever challenges they might face in terms of either maintenance or getting, whatever they need to procure, I support them with those activities.
It’s a full cycle thing, whereby I’m seeing from the start for the building to the execution of the production equipment in their lifecycle.
What kind of education and training is required for a role like yours?
It’s not that you must have it, but I have a P.Eng. That allows me to have an insight into the engineering required to build. I also did my MBA from Queens University. That is how my orientation in business started, I started getting engaged more and more from an engineering side into the business side of things.
But you need to have an understanding of how the engineering pieces go for this role. You can get this either through your education or through your involvement and being mentored by somebody who can share with you what are the basic minimum requirements.
What appealed to you about working in the food and beverage processing industry as opposed to another industry?
I’ve worked in four types of industries before Maple Leaf Foods. I’ve worked in consumer electronics, power generation, oil and gas, and the mining industry.
Having joined the food and beverage processing industry, I was a little bit hesitant because I had worked in very heavy industries. I would say this is a totally different industry. It’s smaller in scale.
The food industry is interesting because it’s so much oriented towards health and safety. You’ll become very health and safety-conscious individual when you work in this industry. You’re always aligned to how the health and safety pieces are moving and how you’re supporting that piece.
Finally, this industry is very stable because everybody needs food. I have gone through various industries where there’s a down period where a lot of people are laid off. I’ve seen those challenges and this is one industry where, generally, the company is stable enough and you will maintain work if you are engaged in your role and are delivering what the organization needs from you.
What would you say is your favourite part of your job at Maple Leaf Foods?
My favourite part of my job is my interaction with various stakeholders within the company that depend on me for my expertise and they respect me for my knowledge, but at the same time, I’m learning every day from what they do to understand how my pieces work up as an integrated solution.
Why do you think people should consider a career in the food and beverage processing industry as opposed to another one?
The food and beverage process industry itself is a very multicultural, multi-faceted industry. In this industry, you find people from different backgrounds, they are coming from different continents, they are coming from different social backgrounds. It’s a social hotspot where you tend to mix with a lot of multicultural people. It’s always an excellent experience to do that because you’re learning in that process from different cultures and backgrounds.
The other piece of the food and beverage processing industry is that the skills are transferable. We see a lot of people who are from Europe and they are coming and working over here. Similarly, people who have worked within our company, young people who wanted to go and work somewhere else, could easily find an opportunity outside the company and sometimes in different regions or even continents because they had the background and the skill set to work.
What would be your one piece of advice for someone looking to start their career in the industry?
One of the things that you need is a love for working in an industry that is so alive. If you are a quiet person and you’d like to do one type of job, it may not be the right kind of industry for you because you’re always on your toes . . . reacting to the market and things like that. It needs a very highly energetic spirit, so for quiet people, it might be an industry that is a little bit stressful or challenging unless you choose a role that is self-oriented and not very interactive.
Want to learn more about careers at Maple Leaf Foods?
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