Phillipa Hawkes

Phillipa HawkesI grew up in Cornwall and on weekdays took the ferry over the Tamar River to study ‘A’ levels at Devonport Grammar School for Girls; my local Cornish school did not have a sixth form at the time. Whilst at sixth form I signed up to a programme run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, which involved taking part in an engineering project for ABB Signal Ltd and a couple of weeks at different universities around the country to get a better idea of what engineering was all about. The excitement of being able to apply science to real world problems and get a firm grounding across a variety of engineering disciplines is what led me to apply for the Engineering Science course at Oxford.

My first role after university was as a packaging development engineer working for Crown in Oxfordshire. An ideal role for any newly graduated student: I was helping to develop plastic bottles for beer so that they could be sold in sports and music venues!

My current role is as a supply chain project manager within the Supply Leadership team for Mars Chocolate, based in Slough and I’ve held this position since I returned from a year’s maternity leave at the start of 2012. I lead a diverse range of projects across the supply chain to deliver improved supply chain performance for our customers and identify supply chain efficiencies.

I joined Mars twelve years ago, initially as a Technical Buyer, and have held a variety of different positions since. Those I’ve most enjoyed have included leading a team responsible for successfully bringing all our new products and packaging changes to market; also being UK Market Planning Manager. Within this role I managed a team responsible for determining the weekly despatch plan for our factories and forecasting the annual sales turnover for the UK Chocolate business.

It’s not hard to enjoy working for a family-owned confectionery manufacturer and, although the more recent roles I have held may seem somewhat divorced from my original studies, I have found that my engineering degree set me up with problem solving skills that I have applied to a wide range of situations both in a practical and people sense. As a result I have broadened my career path from its technical beginnings to one in general business, where I have enjoyed the diversity of working with most business functions from Sales and Marketing to Operations and Finance.