Hakan Day’s career journey to playing a key role in the production of KitKat
Have you ever been on the cusp of landing your dream role, only to not go through to the final round?
We recently chatted to UTS Mechanical Engineering alumni, Hakan Day, about his career journey. From almost landing a grad role, to the importance of determination and maintaining relationships, Hakan spoke about how his journey to becoming a Line Manager at Nestlé Campbellfield, and the challenges that struck him along the way.
Read on for the full interview, to find out more about how Hakan embraced flexibility, built his relationship management skills, and leveraged the technical knowledge he gained at his internship to navigate this change.
It’s great to chat to you Hakan. I’m sure that there will be many current students and recently graduated alumni that resonate with your alternate but inspiring story of becoming a Line Manager at Nestlé Campbellfield – also known as a technical and production role at the home of KitKat!
To kick off our chat today, can you give me an idea of what your current role involves?
Sure! I am a front-line leader on the key KitKat moulding & wafer lines, driving a team of 35+ to achieve production targets, championing safety, quality & process standards.
A day in the life of a line manager always presents new challenges and experiences, as is typical of an operations role. My day starts at 07:00, leading a team of 35+ across three lines, manufacturing confectionery products such as KitKat, Milkybar and Chokito.
I also work closely with support departments: Quality Assurance, Safety, Health & Environment, Engineering, Process & Technology Specialists, and contractors to ensure standards are in place and champion continuous improvement across the factory.
I play a primary role in ensuring my team has the support they require to achieve business KPIs and to create product that delights our consumers.
It sounds like your role requires a variety of people and technical skills. What did you study at UTS and did you do any internships?
As an undergraduate student, I studied a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Honours), an a Diploma of Professional Practice at UTS. I am still a student at UTS, undergoing a Master of Engineering Management part-time alongside full-time work.
As a part of the Diploma of Professional Practice, I underwent two six-month internships in 2017 & 2019. I spent both with a small engineering consultancy Isle Utilities, who specialises in innovative technology in the water utilities space. This experience put me ahead at graduation, as I had a year’s work experience that enabled me to launch into my next opportunity with Nestlé.
And what about part-time work to help pay the bills?
From my first year of university, I chose to be financially independent. Working part-time enabled me to achieve this and support myself throughout my degree. I was fortunate to land a job with Accor Hotels at their flagship restaurant the Ternary, where I worked for close to 5 years. Not only did this job allow me to be financially independent, but it was also the foundation of skills that I still use as a line manager at Nestlé today. This includes people management, decision making and leadership, alongside university which taught me technical engineering skills, time management and critical thinking skills, preparing me for the FMCG industry.
How did things play out once you graduated?
When I completed my final subject of my bachelor’s degree at UTS, I was still working as an intern at Isle Utilities, with aspirations to move into a graduate role. Due to the challenges of covid, Isle Utilities did not open a graduate role when I finished university in 2019, so I decided to start my Master of Engineering, while applying for jobs.
I went through a number of graduate recruitment programs over the course of 6 months, however I had the most success when applying to Nestlé through their Technical & Production stream. I made it to the final round of interviews; however, I was unsuccessful in achieving a position in the program.
This must have been disappointing for you. How did you turn this disappointment into a role at Nestlé?
I remained in contact with Nestlé’s Diversity, Inclusion and Talent Acquisition Manager, Emma. She encouraged me to stay in touch with her. This was a pivotal point of contact as it enabled me to be available to future work with Nestlé.
I maintained the relationship with Emma over the next three months and in December 2020, Emma approached me for an interview for a Customer Facing Supply Chain role located out of the Coles Head Office in Melbourne. By February 2021, I had moved to Melbourne and had started working for Nestlé.
That’s such a great outcome. In your opinion, what personal attributes helped you to stand out during the recruitment process?
Three of the key skills that helped me to stand out amongst other engineers were communication, leadership, and creativity.
- Communication skills include presentation, whether in an interview or networking capacity, the ability to translate technical knowledge to a wide audience and interpersonal skills which all come to the forefront during a recruitment process.
- Leadership is something that I have always had ambition towards. However, this came to fruition through a Master of Engineering Management and frontline leadership experience with Nestlé.
- Creativity has also always been a part of how I approach things. While engineering is a technical degree, I always attempted to be creative about the way I would present information, work through complex problems and work with others, which helped me stand out from the crowd.
Do you have any advice for current UTS students or recent alumni who may take an alternative pathway into their desired organisation?
I believe there is always more than one way to achieve a goal, and from my experience, often I have achieved a goal unexpectedly. For me, my path from finishing my undergraduate degree to my first role with Nestlé was complex and was the start of my development into a career a Nestlé.
My advice for current UTS students is to continually make small steps towards your goal, as it often happens over a longer time frame than you might have predicted. Resilience is key as rejection is not always a bad thing, you may end up somewhere more exciting than you previously expected.
It was great to chat with Hakan and hear about his journey. From working through disappointment and leveraging connections to step into new roles, it’s awesome to see people working towards their career future. Remember that goals can be achieved in unexpected ways, and new paths are opening constantly. Stay positive, and stay focused, and your career will unfold before your very eyes.
Hakan’s story is proof of that.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Industry Engagement Coordinator
Nicole Woll is the industry engagement coordinator at UTS Careers, with a background in marketing and project management. She loves talking with UTS students and alumni, finding out what makes them tick and re-telling their career stories to inspire other students. Outside the office, she is a dog enthusiast, a wave watcher and is always chasing her next travel adventure!
Line Manager at Nestlé