Andri Neocleous studied a BSc in Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds

Andri Neocleous

What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

I work for Mondelez International which is one of the world’s largest snacking company. The five categories within Mondelez are Biscuits, Chocolate, Gum and Candy, Cheese and grocery, and Beverages. Some of the famous brands Mondelez owns include; Oreo, Cadbury’s, Milka, Belvita as well as smaller brands such as Green and Blacks, Toblerone, Philadelphia, Trident and Barni etc.

The Research Development Quality and Innovation (RDQI) aspect of the company has the main purpose of “inventing more moments of joy by building the best snacking company in the world”. Mondelez holds the belief that innovation, science and technology are key for producing successful products that consumers love.

What is your role within the company?

My role is within the flavour team of the larger Ingredient Research team. Currently, my main project is on how different additives, such as salt, can modulate the different flavour notes of chocolate. The goal is to establish how, and to what extent these additives effect the different flavour notes of chocolate.

Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?

My job is roughly 60% lab (kitchen-like lab), 40% office.

My day generally starts off at 8:30 with checking emails and my schedule for the day ahead. If I don’t have any meetings with colleagues or managers then I head down to the lab where I work on different projects. These include producing flavour samples or chocolate model systems using a matrix which imitates the structure and texture of chocolate.

After lunch I usually return to the lab to complete my samples or head to my office and write up my lab book as a way of recording what I’ve done in the lab.

If I’ve started at 8:30 then I normally finish at 16:30.

What do you enjoy the most and do you get involved in any interesting projects?

I really enjoy working with the different flavour chemicals as I am now able to produce different flavourings by mixing them in specific amounts. I also enjoy producing chocolate - especially the tempering and moulding step where we get to sample it at the end!

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

I wanted to gain experience in the food industry to boost my employability after graduation as well as to get a better idea of what type of career I want in the future. I also wanted the opportunity to develop and apply the scientific knowledge that I have acquired from lectures in food processes in real life.

In addition to this, I believed that a year in industry would also prepare me for what it would be like in a full time job after graduation.

What do you think you have got out of this experience so far? 

So far, I have definitely improved my confidence working in the lab, especially in collaboration with others in order to complete projects efficiently and on time. I have also developed my knowledge of the processes behind the popular foods we consume daily such as chocolate as well as the important factors that need to be controlled/accounted for during its production. Additionally, I have become better at networking with others in the office through booking meetings with colleagues and managers and attending social events.

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

My best tip would be to research the values of different companies offering placements as you want to apply to ones which you are most suited for you as well as you for them! This extra knowledge of the companies will also be advantageous during interviews. I would also advise you to attend as many placement workshops and presentations at university as possible as you can pick up a lot of useful interview and presentation tips. These can skills are transferable so even if you aren’t planning to apply to the company that is hosting the event I would go anyway as you never know what useful information you might gain! 

Lastly, I would say keep persevering even if you are rejected because you become more confident after every interview/assessment centre as you gain experience.