Work Experience | A Year at Protolan

By Protolan

Work experience is crucial for young people.

Protolan works closely with the University of Nottingham to offer student placements through both their Internship Scheme and Year Placement.  Our work experience programme is designed to offer students the opportunity to find out more about the Food and Drink industry, the type of work Protolan undertake and provide valuable exposure to the working environment, especially in a fast-paced environment like ours. We look to give students a chance to develop skills to carry them to the next stage of their careers.

We’ve recently said a sad farewell to Joe McLeod.

Having completed 3 years of study in Chemical Engineering at the University of Nottingham, Joe joined us for a year placement in July 2019 as a Project Manager and quickly became an integral part of our team. Joe worked with us to explore the world of food manufacturing, build his professional skills, and understand what it means to be part of a very busy team.

Here is what he had to say:

Working at Protolan
Joe McLeod

Joe McLeod

Everyone at Protolan has been really friendly and welcoming. From day one you are an essential part of the team and are given the opportunity to work on various projects across the food sector. For me, this has provided a great insight into the food manufacturing industry and allowed me to develop a wide range of skills. The team at Protolan have a varied experience and backgrounds which has allowed me to learn a lot about how the whole food and drink manufacturing sector operates.  The size of the business makes it really easy to reach out to colleagues for help or advice, which they are all more than willing to do.

Delivering Projects

You really hit the floor running.  The first main project I was involved with was the installation of new high-speed packaging lines for a prepared vegetables production facility for one of the UK’s largest food manufacturers. My main role here was managing the removal and installation of equipment around a site that was operating 24/7.

I had the opportunity to lead daily project meetings, schedule work with MS Projects, and problem solve various issues throughout the project.  I worked with a wide range of different people including factory staff, contractors, and colleagues in a fast-paced environment where things regularly changed.

I’ve also had the opportunity to work on feasibility studies for various factories based in the UK, USA and Poland. My roles and experience from these projects included leading the feasibility for a tens of millions of pounds green-field ready meal facility, developing Process Flows and detailed Capacity Models, and leading project update meetings with the client. Some of the projects I undertook working remotely, due to COVID-19.   This has its challenges but thanks to great communication within the team, worked brilliantly.

There were also several internal projects I supported to develop tools and information that Protolan use to successfully deliver projects.  This really helped me understand how Protolan work hard to deliver for their clients.

About the Placement

I really feel that I had a great opportunity to increase my skills during my time at Protolan.

It has given me the opportunity to push out of my comfort zone and challenge myself, I have learnt a lot and not just knowledge of the food industry. I have also gained a many other skills and my confidence has grown considerably, which will help me in the future.

Despite the challenges around COVID-19, it has truly been a great year.  I have had the opportunity to visit many different food factories because of how many sites and companies Protolan are involved in. I also got to go around the UK’s largest sandwich factory and even the largest food processing plant in Europe.

Joe was a great asset to our team during his Year Placement at Protolan.
It has been a pleasure to work with him.


We are passionate about developing new talent and are constantly looking for the next generation of talent to keep Protolan at its best.

Contact us if you would like to discuss a career in Food and Drink manufacturing.

Read more about the University of Nottingham work experience schemes click here.