Imogen Kerr

Queensland University of Technology
Production Scheduler
Imogen studied Bachelor of Process Engineering (Chemical) at Queensland University of Technology

What's your job about?

I’m currently working within the Confectionary segment at the Chocolate site. The role I work in requires me to order and coordinate packaging to make the chocolates that we all enjoy such as MARS, SNICKERS, M&Ms & PODS. I work closely with the demand side of the business, who in turn works closely with our customers to make the right Mars products to meet our customers’ demands. I am responsible for writing the production schedule which directs the plant associates as to what they need to run and when, plus I need to make sure we have the packaging here to do so. I’m all about translating what is needed for our customers into what our associates need to produce in the plant – it’s a pretty big role!

To do this, we use computer software program which gives me the raw data. I then need to utilise my background in engineering and provide the human lens to ensure that it’s efficient and makes sense. We really want to minimise changeovers and downtime to ensure an efficient schedule. I’m also involved in the crewing side, so ensuring we have the people with the right knowledge, at the right time, with the right resources to run. A love of numbers and working with all kinds of people comes in handy!

What's your background?

I grew up in Brisbane, and completed all my schooling there also. During university, I completed two summer internships. In my third year I got an internship doing FIFO in and out of Roma which was a great experience. I was the youngest and also one of not many females. Each swing saw me do 11 days straight of 12 hour days – tired was an understatement. I also did a three month summer internship in my fourth year working on a LNG plant.

My Dad worked in mining when I was growing up and I’d always assumed that I would follow in his footsteps, however in my first year of university and during a mining downturn, I had to watch my Dad go through being made redundant. That’s when I realised the volatility of the industry, especially in terms of the share market and price of resources. I’d actually had a graduate role lined up with an employer in the industry, but that fell through due to a decline in business performance, so took an unexpected gap year, which saw me go on a trip to Japan, do some tutoring and casual work.

It was by chance that I found Mars on a graduate job portal. I was excited by what I saw, so applied and went through their recruitment process. I was so happy to receive an offer within the FMCG industry, particularly with Mars being a family and privately-owned business, it’s an organisation that can think long-term.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

For sure. Communication skills are a must, there’s people coming to my desk every single day with lots of questions and ideas for improvement, so you must be able to interact with people of all different styles and be super adaptable. Logical thinking is also crucial in forecasting and planning. It’s called fast moving consumer goods for a reason! Things change all the time every day so you need to be adaptable and able to cope with constant change.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I work in a chocolate factory! It’s so exciting. If I ever get stressed or worn out I just remember that our purpose is “more smiles, more places, more moments”. There’s loads of chocolate giveaways so you become very popular with friends and family. Aside from those perks, I get to interact with so many people daily. From Marketing and Sales, right through to Production experts in the plant. There’s such a diverse mix of backgrounds, skills, experience levels. I’m genuinely not just doing a junior graduate style role or a role that was watered down for a graduate. The person doing my role before me had been with Mars for 20 years! It just goes to show the high levels of responsibility given to graduates, even in their first year in the business.

What are the limitations of your job?

I have a really high level of responsibility, which I actually love. With that comes high stakes decisions which can have significant impacts. If you do make a mistake it can be hard not to take it personally even though everyone is really supportive.

Our plant runs 24/7, so even though my hours are standard business hours typically, there are times when I do need to be flexible. I will get the occasional late night text or early morning call but Mars does offer a healthy work life balance. I don’t clock in or out, or have my hours registered. So long as I get my work done I really get to manage my own hours and have true flexibility.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Get involved! The student life and club culture is so amazing. Don’t just rock up for tutorials and lectures then leave. Give leadership a go in that space and try all of what university has to offer! It gives you experience and things to talk about in your interview.
  • Go with the flow. If you’d asked me first year of university what I’d be doing, I never would have thought I’d be in Ballarat making chocolate!
  • Have fun! It’s’ not all about assignments. Meet people, make connections – they may end up being future colleagues or bosses.