Stephen Ellis, Senior Consultant with Parity Solutions Ltd and Programme Manager for the PLUS+ Food and Drink programme, is this month’s guest in the hot seat.
Briefly outline your career to date.
After graduating with a degree in history I went to work for Stewarts Supermarkets as an Assistant Manger. I moved into sales for CPC (UK) Ltd with brands such as Marmite, Bovril, Knorr, Pot Noodles and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. I progressed through the company to become
Export Manager and acquired several professional qualifications along the way. Then I became an Account Manager for Mother’s Pride and finally joined Parity, where I am still very involved in the local FMCG business.
What does your current role involve and what is a typical working day for you?
My days are very varied – come in and clear the backlog of emails, liaise with DARD on the progress and strategy of the programme; then I could be on-site with food companies to identify their needs or working with graduates to develop them and their skills for the companies. Internally, I have a big focus on quality, targets, marketing and delivering satisfaction.
What professional and personal qualities does it take to do your job effectively?
Good organisational skills, good interpersonal skills and patience.
What has been your greatest career accomplishment to date?
I would have to say winning the PLUS+ contract for the next three years. I have been involved in the programme since the pilot four years ago and have witnessed at first hand the positive impact PLUS+ has had on the agri-food sector, with graduates producing tangible outputs through the delivery of Business Improvement Projects. Over the last year I have met the Minister, Michelle Gildernew, and liaised with key stakeholders to identify the needs of the sector and to shape the future direction of the programme. It is a sector which is close to my heart and it is a pleasure to work so closely with the companies and to recruit and train graduates to prepare them for a career in this industry.