Toby Harris-Layne is a Supply Chain apprentice at Premier Foods, a leading UK-based company that produces some of the nation’s favourite food brands, including Mr Kipling, Ambrosia and Bisto. Within his role, Toby is responsible for producing detailed weekly production plans, planning trials and working with third-party manufacturers to order stock. He is working towards his Level 6 Supply Chain Leadership Professional degree at Leeds Trinity University and the Supply Chain Academy. Here, Toby provides some of his top tips for people
considering an apprenticeship.
“It can be hard enough deciding on the best career and education path for you to take, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like it gets much easier once you know what you want to do. Even when you’ve decided that an apprenticeship is the best option for you, you’ll be faced with a wide
range of options to consider, and need to try and make sure you’re standing out when applying too. Remember it is a two-way street though, the role you’re applying for has to work for you, as well as you being the right candidate for the company.”
BEFORE YOU APPLY
1. Keep an open mind to help identify the right role FOR YOU
It was by chance I found the apprenticeship I now find myself on: I had already been offered a role with an actuarial institution, but wanted to have a contingency if possible. I saw the role with Premier Foods advertised online, having signed up to receive alerts, and it intrigued me. I
wanted to know more about supply chain, how secure our food system in the UK is and logistics in general. Being an organised and concise, but creative person, I believed my personality matched with the job role which led me to apply.
DURING THE PROCESS
2. Be inquisitive, ask questions
It was excellent to hear that my application had passed, that I had gained sufficient gradings in the assessments, and that I was invited to my first interview. While my research into the industry was comprehensive, I still had lots of questions as I knew very little about working in the food industry. The majority of my family and family friends are either in civil engineering or financial services, so while their support was really useful, asking questions during the interview helped me to fill in any gaps and see that it was a career path I wanted to pursue. My curiosity fuelled my hunger for the industry, if you pardon the pun.
3. Listen properly, take it all in
Throughout the entire first interview, I was taking notes and making sure I was capturing what the team was saying, either with regards to the role or in response to my questions. Ahead of the final interview, I made sure to review my notes to ensure my knowledge and understanding were secure by researching further. I could then give more detailed and suitable responses in my final interview by relating the key points to my existing knowledge and experience. This demonstrated to the interviewers, who I now work with directly, that I am an efficient and effective learner, and had the right attributes for the role.
WHEN YOU START
4. Embrace the change
I was really excited to start my role, putting in plans and making the necessary arrangements for joining Premier Foods. There was a lot to manage as the role was based in Ashford, which was 300 miles from my home location of Plymouth in the West Country. After such a big move, I was apprehensive at first when meeting the team, however, they were extremely welcoming. The culture is so open and the team took any opportunity they could to talk to me and get to know me. Ostracizing didn’t happen, which meant I felt instantly at ease, and I could immediately get stuck in.
5. Know your strengths, play to them
I believe that the key skills that enabled me to pass the interviews and integrate immediately with my team are being a good communicator, having an inquisitive mind with a desire to learn, as well as being honest and passionate for the role. If you can effectively articulate these characteristics throughout your application with Premier Foods, you will succeed – while grades and experience are important, authenticity is irreplaceable.
By Toby Harris-Layne, degree apprentice at Premier Foods