Alumna Georgina (George) Rose graduated with an MEng in Manufacturing Engineering from the Department in 2010. She is now working with LEGO at their London headquarters. In this interview, Manufacturing Engineering Tripos (MET) student James Hutchings charts George’s progress from smoothies to Star Wars.
The course also taught me to constantly look for ways to improve things and add value – even when there is no apparent problem things can always be done better.George Rose
How did you find school?
I went to an all-girls school where the pinnacle of my future career prospects was seen as going into the City and becoming a banker. I did design and technology at GCSE because I loved it and out of the 26 girls doing it, only six of us took Resistant Materials with the other 20 opting for graphics. My other favourite subject at school was physics which was also hands-on and experiential.
Why did you choose to do Engineering at university?
I was interested in it and wanted to do something that I enjoyed. Having said that, I wouldn’t say I was considering it as a career – I still wanted to go into the City to be a banker. But in my final year I applied to innocent drinks, an ethical company specialising in the production of smoothies and vegetable pots, and started with them as soon as I graduated.
Why did you choose MET?
When I applied to Cambridge I hadn’t heard of the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos (MET) but in my first two years, even though I had been pretty good at maths at school, I found the maths content of the engineering course hard going. In the second year, James Moultrie did a module on design which really sparked my interest and when I started thinking about my third and fourth year options, all the management and process stuff made MET seem so much more exciting and really relevant and applicable to a wider range of future careers.
What were you doing at innocent drinks?
I was lucky enough to have three different jobs in four years. I started off as an Ingredients Planner, managing the stock levels of the raw materials (by which I really mean fruit!) mainly for our manufacturing partner in Holland. My next job was further down the supply chain as Juice Production Planner, managing the production of smoothies and juices at their production site, ensuring that enough bottles were being filled with the right products to guarantee availability on the supermarket shelves.
My final role was as ‘End-to-end Project Manager’ in the finance department, looking at how to make cost-savings across the entire value chain, from sourcing the ingredients to sales and distribution.
And what are you doing now?
After much soul-searching about leaving innocent, I decided I needed to broaden my experience and applied to The LEGO Group. So I’m now working at their new European headquarters in central London as one of four managers in the supply and inventory planning team. I’ve got two roles: I’m Inventory Lead for Europe but I’m also European Supply Manager for the LEGO Technic, Star Wars and Castles themes. LEGO is a fantastic place to be with incredible supply chain management and manufacturing processes. And, of course, it’s really cool to make the things that kids make things with.
How has MET helped you in your career so far?
The key skill that I got from MET was problem-solving. A lot of that came from Warsthe projects, when we were sent off to a factory, not knowing what we were going to find, and then having to apply our knowledge, first of all to work out what the problem was and then come up with a solution. This has been fundamental to what I’ve been doing in the last four years. The other massively important skill was learning to work as a team, not just with other students but also with a wide range of people from senior management to people on the factory floor. The course also taught me to constantly look for ways to improve things and add value – even when there is no apparent problem things can always be done better.
When I was working on the cost-savings project at innocent all the value stream analysis and everything I had learnt about ‘lean’ and ‘kaizen’ was invaluable and gave me such an advantage over other people who didn’t have the same theoretical background.
Choosing MET was absolutely the right decision for me. I loved the course and it has set me on a great career path.
This article first appeared in the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) Review.
MET is an option for the final two years of the Cambridge Engineering degree that develops and applies engineering knowledge in a business context. Based at the Department’s IfM, the course prepares students to be leaders of business and technology firms. It provides a thorough grounding in management and manufacturing technologies, together with an understanding of the full range of industrial activities: from product design, component manufacture, industrial engineering, factory and business management through to how firms work in the economy. A core message throughout the programme is to understand how firms can grow sustainably.