21st century women in the milling industry
The Operations Manager: Katie Barwise
When you grow up in Silloth, it’s hard to miss the importance of flour milling to this small town on the west Cumbrian coast.
The Carr’s Flour Mill towers over the port, and has provided work for generations of local people since 1836.
One of those employees was Katie Barwise’s granddad, who worked there as a fitter for 35 years, and was the inspiration for Katie choosing her career in the flour milling industry.
“I remember him coming home for his lunch and talking about what he had been doing in the morning,” Katie recalls. “Obviously at the time I had no idea what he was going on about but it sounded interesting.”
Having studied business management at university, Katie was looking for a new challenge when a job as a lab supervisor came up at Carr’s. A decade later, the 31-year-old mum of two is now the plant’s operations manager, overseeing a 60-strong workforce.
“It’s a job I love, because it’s about so much more than flour milling. And my message to any young women thinking about a career in the industry is to go for it, because there are so many fantastic opportunities in a variety of different areas.”
Katie also combines her busy day job with ongoing studies to complete the advanced milling diploma run by UK Flour Millers – an achievement that is growing ever closer after some spectacular success so far.
In 2019 she achieved the highest score from 500 students around the world in her exams, and having completed five modules was all set to complete the remaining two when Covid hit.
Now the courses have resumed, Katie has just finished the latest module which involved a visit to the Buhler Training Centre in Uzwil, Switzerland.
“I’ve been working in the industry for 10 years, but there is always more to learn and the diploma provides a great opportunity to do that,” she says.