Interview: Youngest manager at global biscuit factory

Posted on 8 Jan 2019 by Maddy White

At 27-years-old Morven Burden is the youngest factory manager international confectionery business pladis Global has ever had. Maddy White speaks to the young success.

(R) Morven Burden at The Manufacturer MX Awards 2018 - image courtesy of The Manufacturer.
(R) Morven Burden at The Manufacturer MX Awards 2018 – image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

After joining the company as a graduate at its McVitie’s factory in Carlisle in 2012, Burden relocated last year to the pladis site in Romania from the UK to manage the company’s Bucharest-based factory, where she is now leading a 250-strong team.

She says to TM, “It does feel special when you put it like, but I am capable. Yes I am young and yes I am in this senior role, but I don’t feel like I am too young. The business wouldn’t have put me in this role if they didn’t have the confidence in me.”

Burden won Young Manufacturer of the Year at The Manufacturer MX Awards 2018. On winning the award, she said: “To me, it feels great to have some external recognition of the professional journey I have taken so far. I love to share my story and passion for manufacturing, and the award gives a great lead into networks of curious people. I feel part of a wider manufacturing community and I can’t wait to make the most of that. “

She spoke to TM about her career and the perception people had of her initially, “When I came into the business as a team leader, I was only 21. I was young and different from the people in the factory. I used to always get asked: ‘how do your family feel that you are working in a factory?’ And ‘you are very young, how do you feel as a young woman working with all these men on the line?’ But over time, I think there was less barriers than I actually expected to have to overcome.”

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As a business pladis Global is diverse. The company has seven factories in Britain and three of the factory managers are women. Burden says she hasn’t had any negativity, but “quite the opposite.” Though she continues, “Sometimes people are skeptical on their first impression. I think though because I don’t consider those barriers as being there for myself as I am quite open, people see that openness and react accordingly.”

pladis Global are the makers of global biscuit brand McVities – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

She explains that many thought she was too young, and didn’t think she would “survive”. But actually once they realised her strong work ethic and competency, they said that “I was one of the best managers and actually we really appreciate you being here. I took note of this feedback, because I appreciated it, but it also taught me a lot about how I manage people in a situation like that.”

Continuing, she says, “Of course, there shouldn’t be perceptions, and people shouldn’t have to wait and see what your skill set is to prove yourself. But I think so long as people keep an open mind, even if there is that deep down reservation, about the way that they work, problems can be tackled.”

What advice would Burden give to other young women who want to work in industry but may have concerns? “Be yourself and appreciate the skills and people you do have with you and then work together, then they’ll treat you the same. Take away those barriers and show people you are willing and capable to work.”

The future for Burden? She says, “I am really passionate to share what a great career manufacturing can give people. I hope I can support people through their journey while I continue my own. There are so many exciting opportunities within the industry that I like to keep my options open and can’t wait to see what my future looks like.”