News & Media

STEM Heroes – Melissa

Welcome to the next in our new series of STEM Heroes, where we interview young people who are forging a successful career in the world of STEM. Watch Melissa and be inspired…by biscuit engineering!

What do you do?

I work at Pladis as a Process Innovation Engineer. I specifically work at our R&D site where we invent biscuits! Our product range includes lots of biscuits you will have heard of, like Digestives, Jaffa Cakes, Jacob’s Cream Crackers, Go Ahead bars, Iced Gems, Club bars and Penguin bars!

How did you get into your job?

At University, I studied Chemical Engineering with an industrial placement which was in the health and beauty sector. When I graduated, I wanted to try something new so I went into food, working at Pladis, who make biscuits and confectionery.

What exactly do you do there?

I work alongside teams such as the regulatory team, recipe development, culinary ingredient specialists etc. My team help to deliver innovation projects, from a process development angle, using cutting edge technologies.

What did you study at school?

Chemistry, Maths, Art & Design. I initially thought this would be really conflicting but if anything it’s helped me with my job because it brings together creativity and analytical skills.

How?

We get a brief from Marketing and then the R&D teams get together and we start brainstorming ideas for a new biscuit and how it’s going to fit this brief. We consider how the biscuit is going to look, how it’s going to taste, the texture of it etc – this is where the creativity really kicks in. The analytical side comes further down the line when we go into the test bakery and the pilot plant. Here, we do some data recording for the weight, size, moisture and colour of the biscuit.

What do you love about your job?

Because I work in Innovation, that means I’m at the forefront of product development. I get to find out about new products and exciting new ideas before other teams within the business and before it goes out onto the market. I also love the fact that it isn’t a mundane job where you have to do repetitive tasks. Every day is different – we get to go into the test bakery, the pilot plant, carry out factory trials and visit external suppliers.

What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

At the moment I’m working on a top secret development project to add a new product to our Jaffa Cake brand – you’ll just have to take my word for it – that it is really cool – but I can’t really talk about it!

Any last words…?

I never thought my A Levels would lead me to such a cool job. I just really hope that I don’t eat too many biscuits!

For inspiration in choosing your pathway to the future, simply visit Your Life’s Future Finder!