Jonathan Fairclough is an Exeter alumni, and current Head of Operations for Givaudan Ashford UK. He talked to us about the fascinating world of flavour and fragrance careers.
Hi I’m Jonathan, I work in the Fragrance and Flavour Industry which I joined right after graduating from Exeter in 1997, where I studied Chemical Engineering. Today I work for Givaudan as the Head of our site at Ashford, and lead the Operations team, producing Fragrances and Oral Care flavours that go into many of the products that we use at home each day.
We purchase thousands of raw materials from around the world, and use them to manufacture products that have been developed by our perfumers, ensuring that all quality standards are met, and that they are shipped to our customers to meet their requirements.
Tell us about Givaudan and the flavour and fragrance industry.
Although we all experience the results of the fragrance and flavour industry every day, it’s an industry that’s often overlooked. From your mint flavoured toothpaste to your lavender laundry soap, your chocolate flavoured protein drink or your strawberry gum… consumer products in cosmetics, beauty, food and beverages can be differentiated through the variety of their scents and tastes. Consumer product manufacturers don’t generally produce them in-house, but work with suppliers which are experts in the field of Fragrances and Flavours, and with 25% market share Givaudan is the global leader.
“This fascinating industry has existed for over centuries and uses synthetic as well as organic ingredients combined with bio-chemistry and neurosciences which are key for creations.”
This fascinating industry has existed for over centuries and uses synthetic as well as organic ingredients combined with bio-chemistry and neurosciences which are key for creations. In the recent years Givaudan has expanded our offerings adding active cosmetic ingredients to our portfolio as well as nutrition, health, and natural ingredients.
We’re also investing further into new technologies (for example, artificial intelligence) and adjacent industries to expand our portfolio.
You can find out more about our history here
What’s the process a company goes through with you if they want create a new flavour or perfume with you?
It would all start with a customer brief for a given product idea destined for a given market segment. Our sales professionals would collect the brief and build up the team to work on it. The team is composed of perfumers and evaluators (for fragrances and beauty), or flavourists and food technologists (for taste and wellbeing solutions) along with marketing professionals, lab application, regulatory, and pricing experts. Once our creations are ready we submit them to the customer and it can take sometimes up to two years to know if we’ve ‘won’ the project. Before we can launch the manufacturing process, there is a phase called ‘testing and sampling’ in collaboration with the customer. We own the formula, produce the material and deliver it to our clients.
“Once our creations are ready we submit them to the customer and it can take sometimes up to two years to know if we’ve ‘won’ the project.”
What kind of companies use Givaudan, can you name names?
Unfortunately we can’t name customers because it’s very confidential. But we can say that we co-create solutions with most global consumer product manufacturers in beauty, cosmetics, food and beverages.
How has your career evolved at Givaudan?
I feel very privileged to have been able to grow my career within Givaudan, starting as a chemical engineer improving our processes to manufacture ingredients, moving into management and developing from the maintenance manager to Head of Engineering, broadening my skills into other areas of Operations and Supply Chain as the Planning manager and lead for Continuous Improvement, and now Head of the Site. Givaudan has enabled me to develop, grow, learn, be recognised and valued, while having a lot of fun along the way.
“Givaudan has enabled me to develop, grow, learn, be recognised and valued, while having a lot of fun along the way.”
What kinds of roles are there at your company? What kinds of students are you looking for?
We have two distinct divisions: Taste and Wellbeing, and Fragrances and Beauty. In each division, we recruit professionals with a background in chemistry, food technology, food sciences, but also professionals in sales and marketing, and sciences and research (R&D), Regulatory, Logistics and IT, Procurement, Finance, HR for the corporate functions.
Our Givaudan site in Ashford is a Fragrance and Beauty site, where we also have our Oral Care Global Business Centre. At our Ashford site we have our Science and Technology department, we usually take placement students for each of the S&T departments on a yearly basis. In the last year the student/graduate recruitments for our Ashford site have been:
- Oral Care Consumer Marketing Insight Student
- Oral Care Marketing Graduate
- Sensory Science Student
- Malodour Research Student
- Neuroscience Research Student
- Microbiology Student
- Junior Laboratory Technician Student
- Finance Intern
Our Milton Keynes site is our main UK site for Taste and Wellbeing. The main activities on our Milton Keynes site are product creation and application, customer care and sales. We have less student opportunities on our Milton Keynes site, we take two Food Technologist students each year that work in our application labs.
We hire interns and trainees all year round. The best is to go to our job portal https://jobs.givaudan.com/ create a profile and signing up for a job alert https://www.givaudan.com/file/207736/download that way you can get notified as soon as a matching opportunity comes up.
What would be your advice to students today?
Be curious, explore every opportunity until you find one that really excites you.