This International Women’s Day, we speak to Anne-Marie Cairney, Manufacturing Manager in our Alpen factory. She talks about her 29 years at Weetabix, how she’s moved up through the ranks, and spending time with her grandkids and two dogs.
What’s your role?
I currently work as a Manufacturing Manager for Alpen. There are 40 people that work in Alpen including the two shift managers that report directly to me. My role is great, as it allows me to communicate directly with the shift teams. I can also drive improvements against our targets.
I have a wide network within Weetabix Food Company that spans across all the functions, including Marketing, Consumer Services, Engineering and Capital projects.
I also work with the Alpen Support team – this includes a Health and Safety Manager, Quality and Food Safety Manager and a Quality Support Leader. This ensures that we are fully compliant across all KPIs that have been set.
How long have you been at Weetabix?
I first joined Weetabix as a Production Operator on 4th March 1993 (29 years ago)!
I had family members that previously worked for Weetabix and it was instilled in me by them that it was a great place to work. When I got my first job here there was lots of celebration within the family group!
My first impression when I walked into the Weetabix factory on my first ever night shift was WOW, I will never get this, but it will do for a year… But when you start to feel like you belong, that you are valued, and you make a difference, you get hooked by the Weetabix bug. There is nowhere else I would want to work!
What’s it like to work at Weetabix?
In the last 29 years, Weetabix has gone through many changes: different owners, different structures and different ways of working. But through all of these changes, there has always been a feeling of comradeship and wanting to do well – both for yourself and the business as a whole. You feel part of a wider family where everybody knows everyone and the chance to develop is there for the taking.
What do you most enjoy about working at Weetabix?
I am a team player, I get my energy and my biggest kicks from talking to people, finding ways to help and support them and driving the improvements that are needed to keep the company competitive.
All of my various roles at Weetabix have enabled me to enjoy these people-focused elements of the job, and although there have been some challenging times when you need help and guidance, the support network is always there to guide you and get you on track.
I also love that although there are different levels within the business, we are all working towards a common goal.
What opportunities have you had whilst at Weetabix?
I started as a Production Operator, which meant that you were trained in all the packing halls across the plant. However, I quickly got itchy feet as I wanted to know how the product was made… I moved up through the production ranks to become a Utility Operator (basically, trained on everything!)
I carried out this role for a couple of years, but then a new and exciting new product was developed, and I joined the team making the new Alpen Bar range.
I then started to look at leadership roles as wanted to understand the rationale behind the decisions that my shift lead was making. It took a little while for me to become a shift manager, but with determination and development through the courses that were available to me, I got the opportunity.
From there I became an Improvement Manager and then eventually Manufacturing Manager.
What do you love doing outside of work?
I originally come from Wales and that is where my roots truly lie, so after selling our narrowboat last year we purchased a static caravan in Barmouth so that we can spend as much time there as possible.
My daughter and grandkids moved to Wales four years ago and it looks like my youngest daughter may well be moving down there soon too.
My husband (whom I met at work) loves fishing, so I tag along with him sometimes – although I always end up catching the biggest fish. We have two dogs that I love walking and we love socialising when we get the chance.