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Our People – Luke Arnold, Head of Manufacturing, Weetabix

Luke Arnold, Head of Manufacturing at the Burton Latimer site, here at Weetabix speaks to us about following in his father’s footsteps, the importance of a work-life balance and keeping the workforce motivated during the Covid-19 crisis.

What’s your role?

I am Head of Manufacturing at our Burton Latimer Weetabix site. I am accountable for all our Weetabix factories, our wheat cleaning plant, and our Alpen bar factory.

The key element of my role is to keep our people, our environment and our products safe. To make sure this happens, I must ensure our policies are being effectively deployed across the business. 

I’m responsible for the coordination and management of the factories and teams - making sure they are as productive as possible. I do this through driving continuous improvement and making sure that our costs are closely manged to drive shareholder value. 

Each factory is different, which makes my role really exciting and varied. For instance, the wheat cleaning plant does exactly that – it’s the start of the process as we “separate the wheat from the chaff”. The ‘biscuit factories’ as we call them, make Weetabix and all its variants, whilst our Alpen bar factory makes our much-loved healthy snack bar in many brilliant flavours.

Lastly, I aim to keep the moral of the manufacturing workforce in a good place. I want to have people “here, healthy and happy”. During the Covid-19 crisis, this has been even more important than ever.

How long have you been at Weetabix?

I joined Weetabix in 1997, as a temporary gardener!

My father had worked at Weetabix for 32 years, prior to him passing away in 1996, and my goal in life was to follow in his footsteps. I was incredibly proud of him, and of course I had already heard great stories of what a great place Weetabix was to work.

What’s it like to work at Weetabix?

Weetabix is an amazing place to work. Due to the size and scale of the business I can spend a morning on the line talking to the guys making the biscuits and bars, then present a project to the executive leadership team by lunchtime.

Weetabix has a brilliant culture, if you are prepared to invest in Weetabix you get the support and investment back many times over.  People are treated with a huge amount of respect which starts with our MD Sally Abbot promoting an “autopsy without blame” culture, which in practice means that if things don’t go according to plan, we all work together to understand why things have not worked as we expected and how we can work together to ensure we don’t make the same mistake twice.

I am very active in the local community where I support my three sons to grow up with a healthy respect for others and a strong work ethic. Weetabix supports and promotes a healthy work-life balance that enables me to be active in my children’s lives.

What do you most enjoy about working at Weetabix?

The people - the Weetabix culture is what keeps me coming back. Everyone working together to get the job done in the right way even when nobody’s watching! I’m really proud of that. 

We have a history of driving continuous improvement, of positively challenging and embracing change. After 23 years I love the fact that at no point the business has stood still, which is why we continue to produce the nation’s favourite cereal. 

What opportunities have you had whilst at Weetabix?

When I joined Weetabix, I had just completed my GCSEs. As a teenager, I had not taken advantage of my education, preferring to be the class clown, but over the last 20 or so years, Weetabix has given me the opportunity to gain many qualifications in leadership and management. 

Weetabix also supported me in obtaining an MSc in operations excellence. Graduating from university was one of the highest points in my life and something I would not have achieved without the support and encouragement from Weetabix.

Anything you’d like to share with us about your role?

Over the years I’ve been given the opportunity to improve areas of the business. I enjoy being able to get the right people around me to support delivering brilliant business results.

What I love about my job is that by getting the right team around me and creating a “one team” approach I’ve helped others to be successful whilst also enjoying my own successes. 

What do you love doing outside of work?

I love to run - I manage to cover about 60K a week. When I am not running or working, I like to take family holidays in the south of England, as I love to surf. 

My biggest passion is my family, I have three sons that keep me on my toes. Currently I am not the shortest in the family as the 10-year-old has a few more inches to grow but I know it won’t be long…