This covers the basic knowledge required for a senior operator or packaging team leader in a larger plant or for general packagers from the growing independent sector.
How to Maintain a Successful Career in the Brewing Industry
Packaging Technologist at Heineken’s Tadcaster Brewery, in North Yorkshire, England.
Winner of the Worshipful Company of Brewers Award for the General Certificate in Packaging in 2020.
If you would like to discover the secret of how your passion for beer can be transformed into a solid career that overcomes any challenges that you might face along the way, call Danny Clayton.
Danny’s original passion for brewing has evolved throughout the years and it’s now firmly focused on the final packaged product. The transitions across jobs and disciplines have been facilitated by his lifelong learning approach and his innate ability to learn from experience, all underpinned by a solid technical knowledge acquired with the IBD qualifications.
My first job was absolutely ideal as I was involved with raw materials to the final packed product and everything in between.
Danny’s journey started in 1989, working for Courage Limited at John Smith’s Brewery in Tadcaster, where he joined the Analytical Laboratory as part of the Quality Control department. This job allowed him to work while studying to achieve a BSc in Applied Chemistry from Leeds Metropolitan University. “My grandfather used to say that people will always drink beer, so it was considered a good career choice. From the perspective of getting a good background in the industry, my first job was absolutely ideal as I was involved with raw materials to the final packed product and everything in between”.
During his time at Tadcaster, Danny realised that he wanted to accelerate his learning and focus on the technical side of brewing, underpinned by his knowledge of chemistry. His determination and support from colleagues helped him study for and pass all three modules of the Institute of Brewing’s Associated Member Exam in Brewing, (now IBD Diploma in Brewing) in 1997. With the IBD qualification under his belt, Danny was in a great position to move on within the company. “I eventually moved on from Tadcaster in 1998 as the site Quality Systems Manager to take on a production shift role at Berkshire Brewery in Reading, some 40 miles west of London, looking after filtration and the tanker bay”, Danny recalls.
Learning at Each Step
To continue broadening his knowledge and skill-set, whilst at Berkshire Brewery, Danny studied and passed a Diploma in Management at Henley Management College. In early 2001, Danny relocated to Edinburgh, joining Scottish & Newcastle plc as a Senior Operational Auditor - the first non-accountant in the Group Review & Audit team (GRA), responsible for wide-ranging financial and non-financial reviews of the expanding S&N business.
Danny worked in the GRA team for five years, carrying out audits throughout the UK business and also worked extensively in Alken-Maes in Belgium, Brassieres Kronenbourg in France, Hartwall in Finland, and MABL in India. After this international experience, Danny returned to an operational role with Scottish Courage Distribution, as Depot Manager for Cleveland & Cumbria in the north of England, responsible for secondary distribution.
Then in 2006, a new joint venture was set up between S&N and Kuehne + Nagel and Danny was TUPE transferred to the newly formed Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logistics.
“I ended up working outside of the brewing industry in beer distribution for 10 years in a variety of roles, including depot and project management, and continuous improvement. By 2013, I was Regional Operations Manager – North-East, responsible for secondary distribution from depots located in Carlisle, Stockton-on-Tees and Washington, near Newcastle.”
2016 was a turning point; after taking redundancy early in the year, Danny decided to put into practice the knowledge acquired from the IBD brewing qualification over 15 years previously and returned to his first love: hands-on brewing.
“I went to work at the now closed York Brewery in my hometown. Small scale batch brewing on a manual 20 barrel plant, producing high quality cask ales. It was very rewarding. I enjoyed the direct contact with consumers, and they were some of the most satisfying times that I had in the industry from a production perspective. I was also able to deploy all my knowledge gained from my career to professionalise the operation and lead the brewery to achieve the SALSA plus Beer Accreditation (Safe and Local Supplier Approval)”.
Being responsible for new product implementation and packaging changes across the whole site enabled me to be in contact with many colleagues and to support those now starting their careers, in the same way, I was supported when I first joined the brewing industry.
Completing the Circle and Giving Back to the Industry
Looking for new opportunities, in 2017 Danny returned to Heineken’s Tadcaster brewery in North Yorkshire, the same brewery where he had started his career!
“I realised that I still had plenty to offer in terms of experience, making a difference and adding value to an organisation. I initially worked in Logistics, but quickly fulfilled a number of roles over a two-year period in Planning and Brewing. In 2019 I returned to the QA team as site Technical Implementation Manager, re-joining the same department I had left as a QA Auditor some 20 years previously! Being responsible for new product implementation and packaging changes across the whole site enabled me to be in contact with many colleagues and to support those now starting their careers, in the same way, I was supported when I first joined the brewing industry.”
Keep Learning and Winning Awards
In 2020, Danny decided to expand and underpin his packaging knowledge and took the IBD General Certificate in Packaging, winning the Worshipful Company of Brewers Award for the highest marks in this qualification. “I was obviously very pleased to win the award. The secret of success for me is good time management and appreciating the depth of the syllabus. Don't underestimate the volume of work that you need to undertake prior to taking the exam. You need to focus on the areas that you perhaps are not as strong in and leave those you’re more familiar with until the end.”
It is the same study technique that Danny has subsequently used to pass the IBD Diploma in Packaging, Module 1 (that covers small pack materials, product preparation and small pack line operation) and Module 2 (quality, hygiene, planning and line design, operations management and large pack operations) in 2021 and 2022. He is now looking to pass Module 3 (engineering of packaging) in 2023 and complete the IBD Diploma in Packaging.
With greater awareness (provided by the IBD qualifications) you can engage collaboratively with suppliers on new initiatives and proposed changes within packaging, such as moving towards increased use of recycled materials and reducing plastic consumption.
Currently, Danny is a Packaging Technologist at the brewery which packages 4.2 million hectolitres of beer per year. With lifelong experiences in brewing and packaging, Danny’s main focus is on the bottling and canning lines, including responsibility for materials quality issues management, liaison with suppliers, trials, quality standards and cost saving initiatives.
Does Danny believe that the IBD Packaging qualifications are helping him to be ahead of the curve on what the market is currently demanding?
“Yes, absolutely, not only they do provide the building blocks of your knowledge, they also introduce the key inter-dependencies between man, machine and materials within a packaging environment. With greater awareness, you can engage collaboratively with suppliers on new initiatives and proposed changes within packaging, such as moving towards increased use of recycled materials and reducing plastic consumption. And with your increased expertise and experience, you are able to explain the change rationale to colleagues on site, so as to get improved buy-in and manage, and accelerate change more effectively”, he confirms.
The Importance of People
Danny thinks that there is a uniqueness within the drinks industry; namely great people who are very supportive towards each other, particularly regarding career development.
“The underlying fact for me is that you don’t lose touch with people. I still meet for a pint with John Buckle who first recruited me into the industry and who supported me through my early days, along with John Hare and Nick Morton, who were my initial IBD mentors at Tadcaster. I recall joining Alan Cawkill on a few shifts in Draught Packaging when I wanted to learn more about keg filling and line management, plus Richard Marczewski who encouraged my development in quality systems and standards. And you continue to make friends in this industry, a great example being, working with Nick Webster at York Brewery”.
“I’ve been fortunate to experience a great career in the brewing industry and it has allowed me to do so many different things in so many different places and meet great people along the way. Plus, there’s always something new to learn and I’m proud to say that the learning aspect is lifelong for me”, Danny concludes.
Designed to support you on your journey through your packaging career. From the very beginning to running a macro or independent packaging line, there is a qualification and training course that is right for you.