Brittney Vella

Brittney Vella

University of Sydney
Next Gen Graduate – Technical and Production
Brittney studied B.Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering/ B.Science at University of Sydney

What's your job about?

I am a Technical and Production graduate at Nestlé and in my time here, I have completed rotations in Operations Performance, Quality Assurance and Engineering. Currently I am based at the Milo plant in Smithtown and I’m responsible for Industrial Services, including sawdust boiler, waste water treatment, cooling towers and environmental management.

My day-to-day work involves implementing environmental improvement projects. This means ensuring that the industrial services operations are maintained, and completing reporting on environmental figures for the site.

I get to review our current processes, and identify equipment or processes which may be consuming large amounts of energy or water. I then work on finding and implementing solutions to reduce our environmental impact, which are compliant with Australian and Nestlé standards. So far, I have been involved in a range of projects to improve reliability of our lines, reduce foreign body risks and improve safety on site.

What's your background?

I grew up in Western Sydney and come from a big family.

I was always interested in maths and science at school, but didn’t really know where I wanted to end up. I eventually decided to study a Bachelor of Engineering (Flexible First year) at the University of Sydney. From here I found my way into a double degree of Chemical Engineering and Microbiology.

I completed my thesis on the fermentation of lignocellosic (plant based) material for the potential use as a bioenergy source. While at uni I worked at a mushroom farm in post harvest labour, and had some work experience at Austral Bricks. I have been able to draw upon my experiences from my previous jobs to help me gain a better understanding in my current role.

Growing up in a big mediteranian family, food has always been a core aspect to my life, so I was particularly interested in getting a role in food manufacturing. The Nestlé graduate role provided me the best opportunity to develop my skills, be involved in the largest global food corporation, while manufacturing products I knew and loved.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, people from other engineering backgrounds and potentially from a food science background would also be suitable for Technical and Production Graduate role. It’s important to have good interpersonal and problem solving skills. You will need to be able to work in diverse teams and be able to align different mindsets to a common goal.

While a technical background is useful, being able to find practical solutions and having the drive and leadership skills to implement the solutions is key to success in this role.

 What's the coolest thing about your job?

I think the coolest thing about my job is being able to learn about the history of the factory and being able to contribute to the improvement of the machines, process, environment or even the working life of the operators.

Being able to go home knowing that you have achieved something worthwhile is very satisfying. For example, I have been able to reduce waste to landfill from our site by about a half in one year, which is something that the site has struggled with in the past.  

I also love that I am being trusted with the responsibility of manging many of the environmental initiatives on site, and that I am able to learn about some of the more technical aspects while working on my projects.

What are the limitations of your job?

There are a few limitations of my job. I live five hours from most of my friends and family. On the plus side, many of them have made the trip to come and visit me at my new home on the beautiful mid-north coast.

Also I’m still learning some of the more technical terms, so occasionally when I’m trying to describe a problem with someone with mechanical expertise, I have to be creative and either show them the problem first hand or describe shapes and movements of a machine.

At times. I have to ask a lot of questions to build my knowledge about parts or their use, but my team mates are always great at providing explanations and helping me build my knowledge in these areas.

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

  • Enjoy university, it will be over before you know it!
  • Knowledge is power, but it is relatively useless if you can not work with the people around you. You can have solutions to all of the problems in the world, but if you can not get the people around you to understand your solution or help you implement it, it will be difficult to make it happen.
  • Know yourself. Learn about how you effectively learn. You will be learning your whole life, so know what it takes for information to sink in, be it writing it out, getting involved in a project, reading or talking to a friend about it.