Abbie Thompson – Aspire Apprentice

Abbie Thompson – Production Management Apprentice

How long have you been at Dale Farm?   

Just over 1 year; I joined Dale Farm after my A Levels last summer.

What does your role entail? 

My role within Dale Farm Pennybridge involves following the flow of production from start to finish.  I am  learning the specialist roles and aspects that are involved in producing high quality products that are safe and satisfy our customer requirements.  This is a defined career pathway that is allowing me to fast track into a management position within the Production function with Dale Farm.  I have enjoyed working in Milk intake, where raw milk is brought in from the farms onto site to be tested and approved, and also seeing how it moves through to production where the milk is then bottled. I have also spent time in both the microbiology lab and production lab, learning several tests and procedures that must be carried out to ensure we produce the highest quality products.

What attracted you to our Apprenticeship program?

What attracted me most to the role was largely the “earn while you learn” aspect, where I would receive full time on the job training in Pennybridge alongside part time study at Loughry College, all while taking home a monthly salary. I feel that this style of learning is beneficial to me as my study relates entirely to my place of work; each assignment is carried out to suit my work, allowing me to understand the business better.  In addition to this, at the end of the three-year apprenticeship I will be trained in many areas within Dale Farm.

How has your job changed since joining us?

My job has changed throughout my first year here as I am learning and understanding new roles within the business.  As the style of Dale Farm’s apprenticeship program involves continuous rotation, it is an ever changing environment.  This can can be a challenge, however being able to adapt to any given situation is a key skill that I have learnt to develop.

What has been your biggest challenge in the role?

I have found the biggest challenge to be working in the lab; it was daunting to know that my job was to ensure the quality of the products met the requirements of our customers.  In the end, it was very rewarding to realise the responsibility placed on me in the process, and seeing how my work contributed to Dale Farm’s success.

What sort of attributes do you need to be successful in your role?

It is important to have ambition for both your personal career path and the Company goals.  It is also important to be proactive as this is a 24-hour production site, which involves the need for on the spot problem solving and prevention to allow the site to flow effectively and efficiently. You also need the ability to demonstrate reliability, flexibility, and have strong interpersonal skills.

What have you been particularly proud of?

I am most proud of the improvement in my communication and interpersonal skills that have developed over my time here. I have learnt a lot about the business and how it operates, and I have successfully passed my first year of the Higher-Level Apprenticeship within Loughry College with the help my tutors, mentors and staff on site.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

In the future I hope to have obtained the skills, qualities and experience that is required to become a manager within Dale Farm, having learnt the process of the business from start to finish and spending a lot of time learning and understanding the specialist roles. In addition, to achieve the my current qualification and possibly to further my education if the opportunity arises.