But the ADM engineer says more must be done to raise awareness of opportunities within the industry.
Aaya Mohammed got her job at ADM Milling after responding to an online advert.
But the 23-year-old engineer admits that she did so without knowing anything about the industry – or that it had a place for graduates such as herself.
“Studying at Loughborough University I’d always been interested in the field of energy and cost saving,” she says. “And when I saw the role advertised I knew it would be ideal for me.
“But while I knew the basics of how flour was produced, I never thought that milling had this whole other side to it, or that they’d be looking for someone with my background as an engineer.”
It’s a familiar story, and one that the milling industry is working hard to address in its quest to attract the next generation. There is still work to do, however: Aaya says that while most of her fellow graduates automatically gravitated towards the established engineering route, few if any were aware that milling was an option.
“The impression is that it’s a small, traditionally family-run industry. Which it can be, but it’s also an industry at the cutting edge of food production technologriginally from Manchester, Aaya started at ADM’s Corby mill in December 2020. But she’d barely been through the induction procedure before lockdown meant she had to work from home.
“It wasn’t ideal – but was able to adjust, and fortunately I was able to go back in March. It was only then that I began to realise the scale of the operation, how automated everything is and how many different facets come together to make it work.”
Since her return, Aaya has been involved in a major project to expand production at the site, which should be complete by early 2022. “I’ve effectively taken the role of project engineer, working with management and contractors on the safety side of things.
“It’s fantastic to be a part of this next phase of the mill’s development, and I’m still learning as I go along.”
Aaya now lives in Leicester, but regularly returns home to visit her family. She enjoys travelling in the UK, and has recently become a devotee of bubble tea.
“It’s fruit tea with tapioca pearls and it’s the latest craze,” she explains. “Although I have to admit I’d never heard of it until I was introduced to it by my little sister!”