A talented graduate has kick-started a dream career developing ice cream and chocolate in the “creative heart” of Mackie’s of Scotland's family farm - where it makes its sweet treats.
Hannah Beattie, 25, landed the tasty role as the NPD (new product development) coordinator and will hone her knowledge and palate as she is tasked with devising new flavour combinations, sauces and fresh innovations.
The Aberdeenshire local applied for the job following a master’s degree in tourism and hospitality management at Robert Gordon University, switching careers after losing her job as a result of the first lockdown.
The 12-month term role is part of the Opportunity North East [ONE] Graduate into Business initiative, with the possibility that it will develop into a permanent position.
Mackie’s busy NPD kitchen has created some of the country’s best-loved sweet treats and its small team is tasked with constantly creating new flavours and improved recipes for Mackie’s ice cream and chocolate ranges.
As well as the practical development of new products; technical and analytical elements of the job are crucial for ensuring products that hit supermarket shelves and freezers have the best chance of becoming long-term favourites.
Now through her intensive induction period, which required her getting a full understanding of each element of the business along with extensive taste-testing, Hannah has settled into her new role.
She said: “My induction has flown by, I am learning so much every day. I’ve been working on mood boards and adding to my portfolio of ideas to help create new and exciting flavour combinations.
“Part of the challenge is fully conceptualising these ideas right through to how they will result in a finished product, but I have had a tremendous amount of support thus far from the team at Mackie’s.
Of the ONE graduate programme, Hannah has said that she is pleased with the assistance on offer “which will help me with my development within the role by offering fortnightly workshops in Aberdeen and £5,000 worth of external training opportunities.” ONE’s graduate programme is supported by funding from the North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund.
After seeing the job advert on LinkedIn, the young hopeful applied for the position with the Aberdeenshire farm.
Impressing the interviewers with her creativity within the practical elements of the interview, Hannah received a call the following day to say that she had got the job.
Kirstin McNutt, Development Director with Mackie’s of Scotland, said: “Hannah has shown an immense amount of talent and creativity thus far, and we are delighted to have her on board.
“We are looking forward to seeing the exciting ideas that she will come up with, in what is the creative heart of our business.”
The first three weeks on the job entailed an in-depth induction to allow Hannah to visit all the other areas at the farm, meet all the key people and receive a tour of the production areas in the chocolate factory and ice cream dairy and other areas like the sweetie kitchen or moulding room.
This process is extremely important to Mackie’s which it deems a crucial process in embedding new employees into the company’s culture – and helping the company on its way to achieving its mission of becoming a ‘trusted global brand from the greenest company in Britain created by people having fun.’
One of Hannah’s innovative ideas for future products is a mint Irish cream ice cream, inspired by St Patrick’s Day - and now its Hannah’s job to ensure the new flavour, made with mint crystals created in-house by Mackie’s, will deliver the desired taste and look in a finished ice cream.
Hannah said: “The most enjoyable aspect of my role is the ability to be as creative as I can be, and to generate lots of ideas along with the other great ice cream minds here in the team!
“My initial expectations were exceeded as I have been given the freedom to take the advice from the more technical side of the process while putting my own spin on things, creating new innovative ideas, that may or may not go anywhere, but if you don’t try, you’ll never find out.
“I am often asked ‘how much ice cream and chocolate do you eat for your job?’ and truthfully it is hard to say. My role involves a lot of taste testing, particularly when devising new flavours. It’s been a particularly exciting time to join as we are working on an upcoming national launch of two new flavours!”
The initiative is the private sector catalyst for economic diversification and growth in northeast Scotland, accredited to developing and delivering transformational projects.
This opportunity is taking Hannah across borders as Mackie’s plan for the NPD team to travel to Rimini, Italy for the SIGEP International Exhibition for Artisan Production of Ice-cream, Pastry, Confectionery and Bakery.
“This is the world’s biggest gelato and chocolate exhibition” Kirstin comments, “I am sure that her trip to the home of gelato will provide huge inspiration for Hannah, and that we will discover some new ideas to help her create more exciting products throughout the year”