"I put the bubbles in Aero," jokes Courtney Becket when asked about what she does for a living. Only she's not joking. Thanks to a three-year Manufacturing Apprenticeship with Nestlé—the company that produces Aero—she's now one of the Line Tech Confectioners for one of the UK's favourite, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate bars. Which does, indeed, involve putting the bubbles in it.

"Yes, I monitor the CO2 aeration system," she says. "Of course, there's a lot more to running a complex chocolate moulding plant than that—start-ups and shut-downs of the plant, compliance with the centre line standard's and ensuring any waste and rework is traceable, for instance. Still, it's a great line to be able to drop to my friends."


"It's time for females to shine"

"I'm trusted to run a £multimillion piece of kit... I just think it's really cool that I get to do that"

"It's time for females to shine"

There's a sense of pride in Courtney's tone and she agrees that working for the world's largest food and drinks manufacturer comes with no small degree of kudos. Quick to dispel any myths that manufacturing means "standing on the end of the line and palletising boxes," she tells us that her Apprenticeship gave her the chance to work on a range of different projects, including "stoppage analysis" that saw her investigating stops in production to discover their causes and how they might be overcome.

"You get to experience the whole end-to-end manufacturing process," she says. "It shows you how the chocolate bar is made from scratch—right the way through to packaging." Now, Courtney has a full understanding of the ingredients, how those ingredients are stored and how they're turned into the chocolate bars we all know. Plus, at the end of the Apprenticeship she was awarded with a Level 3 Diploma in Food & Drink Operations from Kirklees College.

Though she works right on her doorstep in York, her new career is a far cry away from her BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics and her earlier working life as a support worker in the care sector. Which just goes to show that Nestlé is opening up professional learning opportunities from all walks of life and backgrounds—including driving an agenda for women in leadership. Courtney agrees.

"When you think of a factory environment, it immediately screams 'male dominated,'" she says. "However, women are coming through, here, and thriving. The women here are role models who are always on-hand to offer support. You know, we've got to smash these stereotypes. Just because I'm a woman, that doesn't mean I can't do the job. It's time for females to shine and, getting into this field of work means I can really show the guys how it's done and what I can bring to the role."

"I'm trusted to run a £multimillion piece of kit... I just think it's really cool that I get to do that"

So, what does that look like in reality? Well, in Courtney's case, it's actually meant that she's continued from her Level 3 Apprenticeship and is now undertaking a second Apprenticeship at Level 5, which will put her on a structured development pathway towards a managerial career. Surely that must put some bubbles in her Aero?

"Right now, I'm trusted to run a £multimillion piece of kit," she says. "I think to myself, 'wow—I can't believe I get to be in charge of this... I just think it's really cool that I get to do that, but then I'm also still developing. So, yes, the sky really is the limit."

To find out more about an apprenticeship at Nestlé, click here.

Looking for something else to read? Take a look at our article here.

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