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Food Career Profile - Production Manager

"In a Food Manufacturing business the role of the Production Manager is to oversee all manufacturing areas as the product goes through a factory.  "

Food Career Profile - Production Manager

They work to a production plan and coordinate labour to ensure that products are manufactured and despatch on time.  An ability to think on your feet is a must as production managers have to minimise down time and look for opportunities to make the production process more efficient.

The shift patterns vary, with many manufacturers running shift patterns such as 06:00 - 14:00, 14:00 - 22:00 and then a separate night shift of 23:00 - 07:00 therefore a production manager can often be the most senior person on site and with that comes a certain level of autonomy to make decisions that are often answerable to an Operations Manager or, in smaller business, the Directors.

A good production manager will spend a large proportion of their day on the factory floor so that they can monitor the 'run rate' and are close to any potential issues that may impact that days production.  Some companies do have production offices or hot desks but a production manager would use these sparingly to snd emails or reports to senior management.

The position shares a lot of similarities to that of a Shift Manager or Manufacturing Manager as you will lead the production process and lower levels of management and supervisory team members to ensure that everything goes to plan whilst complying with Safety and Quality measures.

Some larger food companies run graduate manufacturing or production management schemes where they often take candidates straight from university and put them through a structured program where they will spend time in a variety of different areas of a business and look to progress them in to a senior management role.  Competition for these places can be tough and for the most promising candidates grants are often paid to cover university tuition fees and the candidates start n a salary of around £20,000 per annum plus benefits.

Other companies have a culture of promoting from within or recruiting potential production manager candidates from similar businesses.  This has the potential benefit that the candidate has learned through experience on the shop floor and gained vocational qualifications whilst progressing through a business.

The Average salary for a Production Manager is around £38,000 per year but a senior candidate can expect a salary in excess of £45,000 and this reflects the level of responsibility and experience that is required with each position.  This remuneration is often commensurate with results as measuring the performance of production managers against set KPI's is commonplace with those who over perform rewarded as their value to a business is demonstrated.  

Chris Porter studied engineering at the UMIST in Manchester, a course that was funded by a Unilever graduate scheme and is now employed as a Production Manager with Mondelez at their Bourneville chocolate manufacturing site and has overall responsibility for over 150 employees.  "Coming from an engineering background is a good head start as a clear understanding of how the machines work in what is increasingly becoming a heavily automised industry allows you to assess a potential issue and make a quick decision on how to proceed.

I have worked for a number of food manufacturing businesses, everything from burgers to mustard to potatoes and now echolocate and whilst all processes have their differences there are similarities, the need to get the product out of the door is always there as is the challenge to get the most out of your production staff, you have to make sure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and engage everyone.  Quality is also important as at the end of the day what we produce is being eaten by people so if we get that wrong at the expense of hitting a production target you could potentially lose a customer."

When asked if he would recommend his job Chris answered, "Production Management is not for the faint hearted.  I would say it was like a magician who is spinning six different plates at the same time but in order to keep them spinning you have to keep a constant eye on each one.  I would definitely recommend production management to anyone who is looking for a career with real prospects.  I have been luckily enough to work for some great companies and as long as you are producing results the opportunities for progression are definitely there."

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