Challenges and opportunities as a Pilgrim’s Pride apprentice

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Apprentice of the Year finalist Emily Chater discusses her route into the food industry
Apprentice of the Year finalist Emily Chater discusses her route into the food industry

Related tags Apprenticeship FMEAs

Apprentice of the Year Finalist Emily Chater discusses stepping up to the plate at Pilgrim’s Pride and the effect of 2020 on her apprenticeship in this exclusive podcast.

Since joining Pilgrim’s Pride two years ago, Chater has been promoted to interim technical service manager to help cover maternity leave. While her initial plan was always to pursue a new product development role, she has since become aware of the range of opportunities within the food and drink industry.

“I had no idea that technical was even a thing ​ since it wasn’t something I was exposed to initially – but when I started in technical, I immediately loved it,​” Chater explained.

‘Blown my mind’

“Over the past two years I’ve grown to love it even more. I look forward to coming into work and by taking on this responsibility, I’m also seeing the side of technical and my mind is constantly blown with everyone else within the industry that carries out the same job. I do think I will continue on this path in the future as well.”

Like much of the food and drink industry, Pilgrim’s Pride has felt the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent national lockdowns. Luckily for Chater, this hasn’t created too many challenges in her work or learning.

“From a work perspective we’ve been quite lucky where we’ve had very few COVID cases, so we’ve not had to close down anything here,”​ she added. “During that time my job role changed to suit the needs of the business due to the limit of people allowed on site.

Limited stress

“Come June/July, exams got changed to being online, but other than that, not a lot has changed. I already study online on a regular basis and only attend university three times a year anyway. It limited stress but put it on in other areas instead.”

Chater is one of five finalists nominated for Apprentice of the Year at the Food Manufacture ​Excellence Awards, sponsored by Dawn Foods and Fowler Welch. Winners will be revealed in an exclusive online ceremony to be held from 5pm to 6pm on Thursday 11 February – a full list of finalists in all categories is available on the awards website.

“[I was] shocked, because I found out I’d reached the finals at the same time as being nominated,” ​she continued. “No-one had told me about the nomination process. I got called into HR and I wondered, ‘oh no, what have I done?’ and then it turned out it was I was in the finals.”

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t come out of that office with the biggest smile on my face, it was such a shock. These things push you out of your comfort zone and make you realise what you do as a job.”

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