Career as a Production manager

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Lisa Walker is production team manager at a plant in Wales, which produces engines for small cars.

What does your career as a production manager involve?

I'm responsible for the production of Sigma 1.25, 1.4 and 1.6 litre small petrol engines. We make over 2,000 of these each day. I manage the production team consisting of 360 production operatives, six supervisors and three engineers, working on shifts over a 24 hour day.

I have to check the number of engines produced the quality of the work and deal with any production problems. I also consider any changes in engineering which will make the production line run more effectively, deal with staff well-being and any training or development needs.

What are your routine tasks?

There is a routine for the first part of the day. I start work at 6am, read any mail or emails and look at printouts on the last 24 hours of production. I walk round the production line to check on night shift activities, for example, if targets have been met, or if there's been a mechanical problem or health and safety issue.

The daily production strategy meeting with supervisors is at 7.30am. We discuss any issues and plans for the next shifts. We have two more meetings each shift, including a quality meeting at 9.30am. I walk round the line again at least two more times.

Have you always wanted to do this work?

I wasn't sure when I left school, but with A levels in biology, chemistry, physics and maths I decided to do an engineering degree. I have a passion for cars and in my final year at university I looked around for jobs in automotive companies – that's how I got into the industry.

What training do you receive?

Keeping up-to-date with health and safety requirements is vital in this job. I've also had training in leadership, communication skills, motivation, handling conflict and providing feedback to staff.

What do you like best about your career as a production manager

I love all the activity that takes place – it never stops! I also enjoy the team spirit here – if there's a problem we all pull together.

What are the main challenges?

When there are problems outside of our control, affecting ongoing production. It could be the delayed delivery of spare parts – we are as reliant on other divisions and suppliers as the vehicle plant is reliant on us. It's a demanding job and can be very tense when problems have to be sorted urgently, so that production can continue.

Do you need particular skills and qualities?

You need to manage several different tasks at once. I constantly have to process lots of information, filter what's critical and act on priorities. Building good relationships with your team and being able to motivate people are very important too.

What about your future?

I'm interested in leading a team of engineers and working in engineering anagement.

Lisa's route to her career as a production manager

  • Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
  • Joined Rover Group as a graduate trainee.
  • Became a manufacturing engineer, working on engine assembly.
  • Promoted to senior engineer, then production manager.

Lisa's production manager tips

  • Find out as much as you can about the subject you're interested in.
  • Get some work experience in your chosen industry.
  • Take maths, physics and science subjects if you are considering an engineering degree.

Production manager related jobs

  • Engineering operative
  • Manufacturing production planner
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Mechanical engineering technician
  • Production engineer
  • Quality control inspector

Salary of a production manager

  • Salaries vary depending on age, experience, type and size of manufacturing company.
  • A new production manager usually earns between £19,000 and £24,000.
  • With experience this can rise to £35,000, or more.
  • A senior production manager/department head can earn £50,000 or more.

Hoe to become a production manager

  • It is possible to become a production manager by starting as an apprentice and working your way up through the company. Many companies will sponsor ongoing training for staff with ability and enthusiasm for the job.
  • Many production managers in manufacturing have a degree or high national diploma (HND). Relevant qualifications include a Degree in Mechanical and Production Engineering, Foundation Degree in Mechanical Engineering and HND in Engineering Manufacturing Systems. Other useful subjects include science and technology.
  • BTE/SQA HNDs in Manufacturing Engineering provide a useful background.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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