My journey began when I applied for a job in the Arbroath fish factory and as I had previous laboratory experience in Romania, I secured a Quality Assurance position on a temporary basis.
I held this role from October 2018 until December 2018 and my duties included salt and moisture content tests on cold smoked fish, checking production scales and thermometers, and checking the quality of all products.
After a very busy 3 months with the Christmas period, I joined production as a Production Operative where I learned to work on different lines and integrated myself into the High care department. In May 2019 I advanced to become a Line Leader where I started training on how to lead a line. I was responsible for ensuring production orders were completed on time.
In August 2019 I successfully applied for a Supervisor post in the High Care department as I was looking for an opportunity to progress my career. The company has offered me several relevant training courses and support over the years which has helped me develop myself and in mid-2021, I was promoted to Senior Supervisor.
This year, 2022, I joined the NPD team as NPD technologist and am now looking forward to learning about this department as I continue to develop my career with support from my colleagues and the company.
I was recruited by Be Personnel in July 2018 as a UK Planner to work onsite at ASL. Having absolutely no experience in the food industry I had to slowly learn about M&S products, customer schedules, processes from scratch and I am very grateful for the endless patience from all staff members.
After an intensive first four months, I was offered a permanent contract with the company which I happily accepted. Gaining more experience, I started training on export, picking up basics on logistics, transport, and supply chain overall. Always looking for new challenges, I took over raw material planning and began working closely with Scottish Sea Farms and other fish suppliers which with Arbroath on board has become a big project!
The company has supported my development with several relevant training courses, all of which have provided valuable knowledge and a great experience! In spring this year, the planning manager job was advertised which I found an interesting opportunity to progress my career and decided to apply. After going through the recruitment process, I was offered the job and I am now leading the planning team of three.
Working for ASL has been, and continues to be, a journey, sometimes challenging or difficult but always satisfying with the one constant of great support from the company and colleagues.
Hello, my name is Jakub Prochazka and although from the Czech Republic, Scotland has been my home for more than 15 years.
My food industry career began as an operative in high care at the Arbroath site in April 2010 and after a few weeks I was promoted within the department to the Print room where I spent an enjoyable year. I was then offered and accepted a post within the high care stock control and started learning more about the processes and products we were producing.
After two great years my knowledge about High care production was excellent and that made me think what the next step for me could be. I decided I want to become team leader and luckily for me the business had vacancies for team leaders at that time and so I got the position. As time went on, my hard work was recognized, and the business offered me another opportunity to step up as high care manager periodic cover.
I must have been doing something eight as when the high care structure changed, I was given the role of Front-line manager. Over a few years the business grew and all FLMs were rotated around departments to learn more which has proved invaluable.
In September 2021 I was offered the promoted post of Zone manager for wet side and STU. It was a big challenge for me because I had no experience with wet side department but was lucky in that all went well thanks to the huge effort of all team members and Christmas campaign was delivered smoothly and successfully.
In March 2022 we became part of the Associated Seafoods team when they acquired Dawnfresh, I passed my probationary period for zone manager, and now also manage the kiln minders team. My dream is coming true.
I want to mention that the company has offered me several relevant training courses and support over the years and without which I wouldn’t be where I am now.
P.S. My plan when I came to Scotland was to spend no more than two years here and then return home to Czech Republic, I can now proudly say that SCOTLAND is my home.
Being asked to write about my time with the company was at first daunting but as it meant looking back over more than half of my life it brought back some long forgotten and lovely memories.
I did not enjoy my first day at all as I was very nervous, not having worked in this industry before, there was no induction process as we have today, so you were on the factory floor before you had any idea of the factory environment. I can still clearly remember the extreme cold and I could not wait for the day to finish. I had it in my mind that I would only stay until I found another job, but I settled in and here I am 41 years later.
I have as you would expect seen many changes and the biggest was when the factory was taken over by Associated Seafoods, we enjoyed a complete refurbishment of the factory with salmon and shellfish merging into the same building. I have seen many smaller but similar changes resulting in vastly improved working conditions benefiting all employees.
Another major change, and one of my best experiences, has been the advent of colleagues from many different cultures and countries, including local of course, and I have enjoyed meeting and interacting with them. I also enjoy my daily duties, organising and planning the running of my department. Thinking about what I enjoy made me think about what I don’t like and this has to be
training courses but I understand they are crucial to my role.
One of the most challenging experiences was when we first employed agency staff in 2002, most of whom did not speak English as their first language and trying to understand and overcome the cultural differences was a little challenging but with the help of the existing workforce who embraced the change, the integration went well.
COVID, of course, brought different challenges to us all but with the COVID rules and the changes made throughout the factory to limit the spread we managed to keep production going through the lockdown with no outbreaks. The company arranged a vaccination programme for everyone who wished to have one.
A recent memorable and pleasurable day was an invitation to the Grampian Food Forum awards with a few of my colleagues; I had no Idea that I had been nominated for an award and so was so excited when I won the Denis Emslie “Above and Beyond” award. I didn’t think I could feel more proud but it happened and this one meant more than anything else to me. Led by Victor, our MD and Angela, HR Director I was gobsmacked to be recognised for my forty years’ service at a function in the canteen attended by all my colleagues. We have all heard of “a bag for life” at supermarkets and when Victor presented me with one it was obvious that it had something in it so I wondered if it may be a bag. There was a bag but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to find something that I have always loved, but from afar, as I never imagined that I would ever own one - a Louis Vuitton Handbag that I will treasure for ever along with the memory of that special day.
Colleagues ask how it feels to be the longest serving member of the team, a question I find difficult to answer as I don’t think about myself in that way. I do however feel privileged and proud to have the opportunity to continue my employment within the company and to still have the ability to carry out my duties. I am extremely grateful to ASL for supporting my decision to continue working in my present role in my “more mature years” and was delighted to see my Grandson joining the team on a career ready programme in July 2022. It was special to let him have an insight into my workplace that he has heard so much about it over the years.