Students and Industry Experts Collaborate for Building Connections
At BENEO Oreye in Belgium, we produce high quality food ingredients from locally-sourced chicory roots, which are used in various applications such as baby food. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet Denis Vande Putte, our Head of Quality on site, to learn about the interesting world of quality management in the food industry and how he and his team collaborate with various schools and universities in the region.
What were your recent activities to give students insights about your work?
Some weeks ago, we invited students in their last year of their Bachelor in Chemistry in Liège to our plant in Oreye. As part of their course at the Technical Institute, they discover industrial applications. We arranged a tour through our factory, getting them in touch with our BENEO colleagues in the production and laboratories. So, they could exchange ideas on the production process as well as on their individual tasks, helping to understand the role of the different departments in our factory. Next to production knowledge, the students also got an insight into possible careers in production, quality, technical sales or in our laboratories on site. There were many questions raised as the variety of tasks was surprising to many students.
What were your learnings from the students?
To me, it was also very interesting to learn what students think about quality management in the food industry and how they perceive our job. I have the impression that quality management is not so much in the spotlight at programs at school and universities. We are a very unknown world. Belgian employment agencies have even identified quality management in food as a job in penury. Therefore, we joined a project from the start to develop the content of a training program delivered by schools.
There are plenty of opportunities in this job, however people are just not aware of them. Often, students think about quality control, though there are many more elements to it, such as risk analysis, compliance with legislation, the sensibilization of our people on quality matters, customer audits, certification management such as kosher or halal or crisis management. It is a very diverse field.
I also learnt that some people are not aware how many quality standards we fulfill in the food industry and how many steps we take to ensure premium quality, especially for baby food.
How do you show this variety of tasks in quality management to students?
Next to the production visits, my team and I arrange exchanges with the students. We ask them what they think a quality expert would do and compared it to what we effectively do. We also showed them how we work and how we are organized as a team. How we ourselves got into quality management, which competencies are helpful and how we developed over the years. Our team is very diverse in terms of backgrounds and talents. We have agronomical engineers, chemists, experts in data processing… just to mention a few. And we truly benefit from the different perspectives. So working in quality can be a match for quite different people.
What are your wishes for the future?
To keep in touch with students and people interested in quality. To continue showing how exciting our job is and being inspired through these exchanges with universities and schools.
Thank you, Denis. You definitely inspired me. I see it now with different eyes, when buying my fruit yoghurt or cereals from the supermarket shelf, as there are many steps behind to deliver premium quality. Thanks a lot for your sharing. If you like to learn more about our job opportunities at BENEO, go to our careers page.