Megan's career has progressed from working in a local brewery to a role with global reach. Find out how got into technical brewing
How did you get your job?
I studied for an MEng Chemical Engineering at Queen's University Belfast. I started out my career at Molson Coors as an industrial placement student in the research and development (R&D) department. After that year, I completed my final year of studies before coming back as a graduate in a technical support brewer role in Burton Brewery.
I moved back into R&D as a brewing innovation support manager after two and a half years in the brewery, before becoming a process innovation manager in the same department.
What's a typical working day like?
One day I can be in the brewing pilot plant, developing and improving products, the next I can be in the new product development (NPD) lab. This can be followed by a day out visiting an external industrial or academic partner. Other work activities include presenting at innovation showcases and running trials in one of the breweries.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I particularly enjoy the many opportunities I have to keep learning new things and develop my knowledge. There are also opportunities to take specific brewing and distilling courses via the Institute Of Brewing and Distilling (IBD).
Also, I get the opportunity to work with different departments across the business, including quality, marketing, engineering, logistics and finance. 'Variety' perfectly sums up the job and why I enjoy it.
What are the challenges?
Sometimes research trials don't work out the way they're planned, but that is all part and parcel of the world of research. If you learn from the research that you do, all of it can be valuable.
How is your degree relevant?
It's given me a great technical base to build upon and has helped me understand and get to grips with the various unit operations in the brewing process.
I feel that chemical engineering and brewing are a perfect match - you have chemistry, biology and engineering, all in one process. From separation processes, heat transfer processes and biochemical reactions to quality management systems, process safety and water treatment, there's an intrinsic link between what is taught in a chemical engineering degree and brewing.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
As my career has developed, my roles have become more global and far-reaching. I started with experience in a local brewery, moved into a European role and am now in a process innovation role that can have a global reach.
With each role I've had the opportunity to work with more stakeholders in different departments and learn about different aspects of the business. I've become recognised as a subject matter expert in my area, and in the future hope to remain on a technical pathway.
What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?
When deciding whether to study for a Masters degree or not, weigh up the advantages that doing further study would provide. In my case, at 18 and not fully having my heart set on a particular career path, the Masters course provided me with more job opportunities to apply to on graduation. It gave me a larger knowledge base to draw upon with the additional course modules covered and it will also be useful if I decide to become a chartered engineer in the future.
What's your advice to someone wanting to become a brewer?
- Learn from others. The brewing industry is full of people who’ve enjoyed working in brewing for decades and have vast amounts of invaluable experience to draw upon.
- Getting experience within brewery operations early in your career is one of the best learning opportunities that you can undertake.
- Be inquisitive and embrace change.
Find out more
- Learn more about becoming a technical brewer.
- Find out what else you can do with a degree in chemical engineering.