Dr Rachel Cooke, Manufacturing Development Manager (SABMiller) visited the Department on 29 January 2015 to contribute a talk to the CEB Lunchtime Career Talk Series entitled: “A Career in the Food and Drink Industry - Sweet success and travelling the world to find the perfect pint”.
Rachel, as Chairman of the Food and Drink Special Interest Group at the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), also took the opportunity to present one of our graduates, Paul Hodgson, with a prize prior to the talk. Paul recently won the IChemE Food and Drink Special Interest Group's Undergraduate Project Prize for his CET IIB Research Project, entitled 'Flow Patterns and Cleaning Behaviour of Impinging Liquid Jets'. His project partner was Michael Smith and his project supervisors were John Davidson, Tao Wang and Ian Wilson. Rachel presented him with a £200 cheque and a certificate.
Rachel graduated with an MEng from this department back in 2000. She then gained a PhD here on rheologically complex engineering fluids under the supervision of Professor Malcolm Mackley. She is now a chartered engineer with experiences in the confectionery industry supply chain including engineering, operations and purchasing. She has spent 3 years living and working in Poland, where she was an engineer and a project manager for the build of two green field factories. She is now working in a global operational excellence role for SABMiller, the world's second largest brewer by volume.
In her talk, Rachel described how she was inspired to become a Chemical Engineer by her father, who also graduated from this department. He gave her valuable advice on taking volunteering roles, which often helped her land her next job.
Rachel has had a diverse range of roles across the food and drink industries. She discussed the highs and lows of her career ranging from fudge to Fosters. Starting from how work experience in the oil and petrochemical industry led to a place on a graduate scheme at Cadbury, a chocolate company, she then moved onto the engineering challenges of working in a Fast Moving Consumer Goods Company. She talked about the challenges involved in producing and distributing some of the most familiar consumer food/drink products including chocolate bars, jelly beans, chewing gum and even beer. She went from her first role as SAP Implementation Manager, then through a Graduate Scheme at Cadbury, moving up to Process Development Manager and Process Engineering Manager in Poland, including Product Change Project Development Manager for Cadbury in London and culminating with the her current role as Manufacturing Development Manager for SABMiller.
Her volunteering activities for schools and universities to raise the profile of Chemical Engineering as a study subject and women in science have not gone unnoticed. In addition, her friendly nature, determination and hard-working disposition, have helped her gain very valuable experience and knowledge in different areas of interest. She is certainly a fantastic role model for current Department undergraduates to follow.
Back in November 2014, following years of well-deserved industry recognition, Rachel was named as one of the top 100 most influential individuals in UK Manufacturing by the Manufacturer Magazine.