When his line manager suggested he might consider taking some milling exams, John Gullem thought it was probably a good idea.
After all, the qualifications he’d earned in his native Philippines were lost in translation here in the UK.
And, having worked as a multi-skilled operative at ADM in Tilbury for a year, John reckoned it wouldn’t do his job prospects any harm to complete a couple of modules of the UK Flour Millers distance learning programme.
“I wanted to have at least some sort of industry certification in the UK, but to be honest I wasn’t thinking about the grade,” John says. “I would have been just as happy with a pass.”
Last month the results came in – and to his astonishment John discovered that he’d not only passed the first two modules but, in one, he had achieved the highest marks of anybody sitting the exams around the world.
“At first I thought it was a mistake. How could this be possible? But then it began to sink in and I realised what I had done.”
John arrived in the UK 18 months ago with his wife Louriza, a trained nurse who now works at the local hospital. After several weeks job-hunting, the 28-year-old spotted a vacancy at ADM and, on the strength of his experience in the Philippines, landed the post.
“My role is wide-ranging, and involves all aspects of production from wheat intake to bagging,” he says. “I quickly fell in love with the operation, because it’s a combination of art and science.”
Working a shift pattern of four days on, four days off, gave John the time he needed to study for his ‘safety, health and hygiene’ and ‘wheat and the screenroom’ modules, the first two of seven in the UK Flour Millers distance learning exam roster.
“I was a little bit lucky, because in the mill back home I was involved in the wheat cleaning operation so I knew a lot about it already,” he says modestly.
Having achieved such success, John knows that the pressure is on to complete the remaining five modules. But he admits he’s happy to take his time.
“I’m just chilling at the moment, but if my manager agrees I’m looking forward to carrying on,” he says.
Meanwhile, UK Flour Millers are looking forward to receiving hundreds of enrolments this month from students around the world, old and new, like John and not like John, for the 2021-22 course session, which is due to begin in September.
If you are interested in enrolling visit www.ukflourmillers.org/dlp