Operations Manager
Gibsons Food

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John L

00:00:02 My name is John L. I work for Gibson’s Foods and my job title is operations manager. I look after the whole of the operation side of the business here so I look after everything in charge of the bakery, the engineering function, all our goods in, the prep, high risk assembly and out to dispatch as well. So, it’s the whole process from what comes in to what goes out.

00:00:24 I wasn’t particularly bright at school to be very honest. I struggled with maths a lot and through the careers office at school I’d heard that the main local company, Pilkington Glass, were running what they called a chemical technician’s course. So, I went up to the careers officer, filled in the paper work, I got an interview with the business, offered the job and started before my 16th birthday.

00:00:52 It was a huge culture shock because I’d gone from being at school with school friends to being into very much an adult world, if you like, where it was very serious and things had to be done a certain way. So, it was for me a huge culture shock. I was actually working on the technical side of glass manufacture and it was something that really was very important to me. I loved it, I really did from day one.

00:01:21 Unfortunately, I was made redundant after 24 years. There was a major recession on, interest rates went through the roof and consequently the demand for glass dropped significantly. After 24 years to be made redundant it was absolutely devastating. Because I’d put 24 years of me into that job and then suddenly it wasn’t there anymore. It had gone and I was absolutely devastated. But you’ve got to move on with life. I had a family to look after, I had a mortgage to pay. You can’t sit and do nothing. You’ve got to look, get out there and get back on the treadmill.

00:01:57 When I was made redundant from Pilkington’s I was on a very considerable salary for the position I had and then I went down to earning nothing, and I took part time employment with an agency and I was paid anywhere between £2.50 and £3.00 an hour for laying cones on the M62 motorway, for emptying mushroom composts into holes, to emptying containers on the dockside. But I was getting up every morning, going out to work and doing something while I was looking for a permanent job and in that 11 month period I actually applied for 553 jobs up and down the country and eventually got one 11 months later for a company called Whitworths Foods in Northampton. It felt absolutely amazing that although it was a job at a much lesser, much lower level than I was working at, it was a five day a week job with prospects. And that was brilliant. It was an amazing experience.

00:02:50 I started at Whitworths Foods as a team leader in the nut processing department and Whitworths do a lot of dried fruits, dried nuts so my job basically was to look after the nut processing side of things with my team. I found the transition into the new job reasonably ok because the way I approached it was to take skills that I already had but to apply them in a slightly different way. And in fact, very often when you do a job change like that, you can bring something with you that maybe other people don’t see because they’ve not had that experience anyway.

00:03:27 Having been made redundant once and having a couple of scares in between, its having that consistency that becomes very important and being employed becomes very important and I’m quite lucky. I’ve had a very, very varied career, I’ve had a very fulfilling career. I’ve had to finish on that sort of a high note up to my retirement.


John L is Operations Manager at Gibsons Foods. He was made redundant after 24 years of working in the glass industry. During the following year he did a lot of menial jobs and applied for 553 others. He eventually got a job with prospects in the food processing industry. “I found the transition into the new job reasonably OK because the way I approached it was to take skills that I already had but to apply them in a slightly different way.”

More information about Food, drink and tobacco process operatives

average salary

The UK average salary is £28,758

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

70%  male 
30%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future Employment

Future employment?

? Food, drink and tobacco process operatives set, operate and attend machinery to bake, freeze, heat, crush, mix, blend and otherwise process foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco leaves.
There are no formal academic entry requirements, though some GCSEs/S grades can be an advantage. Off- and on-the-job training is available. NVQs/ SVQs in Food and Drink Manufacturing Operations are available at Levels 1, 2 and 3. NVQs/SVQs in Tobacco Processing are available at Level 2.
  • Sets, operates and attends machinery and ovens to mix, bake and otherwise prepare bread and flour confectionery products;
  • Operates machinery to crush, mix, malt, cook and ferment grains and fruits to produce beer, wines, malt liquors, vinegar, yeast and related products;
  • Attends equipment to make jam, toffee, cheese, processed cheese, margarine, syrup, ice, pasta, ice-cream, sausages, chocolate, maize starch, edible fats and dextrin;
  • Operates equipment to cool, heat, dry, roast, blanch, pasteurise, smoke, sterilise, freeze, evaporate and concentrate foodstuffs and liquids used in food processing;
  • Mixes, pulps, grinds, blends and separates foodstuffs and liquids with churning, pressing, sieving, grinding and filtering equipment;
  • Processes tobacco leaves by hand or machine to make cigarettes, cigars, pipe and other tobacco products.
Employment by region
Top 10 industries for this job
Food products 69964
Wholesale trade 17648
Food & beverage services 16111
Retail trade 12698
Employment activities 2788
Beverages & tobacco 2508
Agriculture, etc 1336
Employment status
Skill importance

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