Career progression


Our self-development programmes are individually tailored, giving everyone the opportunity to take control of their own career, and reach their own goals.

Here are just a few examples of the rapid career progression opportunities we've provided:

Joe Evans' journey

How did you get to where you are now?
"My current job title is Operations Co-ordinator at the Middlewichsite, and I have been privileged to have been in a number of roles, both permanent and on developmental secondments.

This path has enabled me to gain some valuable and varied experience, which really helps me in my current role.

Prior to joining Tata, I had completed an apprenticeship in Advanced Laboratory Techniques with AstraZeneca in the pharmaceutical industry. My role was based primarily in Research and Development.

My first role at Tata was as a Process Operator working in the Lime Plant at our Lostock site, when I joined the company in June 2011.

From there, I was given the opportunity to take a secondment as an Improvement Project Co-ordinator, which involved planning and tracking the progress of various improvement projects across our Lostock site.

I then took on another secondment as a Laboratory Manager, based at our Winnington site. This involved leading and managing a team of five Laboratory Analysts to complete routine and investigative analysis.

The next stage of my progression was to take on the role of Plant Technologist, based in the Sodium Bicarbonate Plant at our Winnington site. The role was part of the Technical team and involved various projects, laboratory analysis, resolution of operational issues and dealing with customer queries."

How has Tata's training programme helped you?
I've had access to lots of really useful training. The most recent training I have undertaken is my Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training. This methodology helps me enormously in my day-to-day role, as well as when I've worked on various projects.

The training has taught me how to manage an issue or project opportunity in a structured and methodical way, in order to obtain the optimal results for the business."

Have you had any assistance with your career progression?
"One of the most positive points I have found whilst working for Tata is that from day one, all of my managers have supported my development. Because I have been involved in a number of roles, I have been able to observe different management styles, and I would like to think I have learned something different from each manager. My more experienced colleagues have also been very keen to pass on their knowledge and of course, without this, it would be very difficult to succeed!

All of the managers I have had at Tata have been very good at identifying where I need to improve and then pushing me out of my comfort zone – I think this is the best way to learn and develop."

What advice do you have for anyone considering a career at Tata Chemicals Europe?
"My advice for anybody starting at Tata would be to look for opportunity. I feel that the company is keen to develop both new and existing people, so it is up to the individual to show ability and the willingness to go the extra mile in order to develop.

For example, I was once unsuccessful when applying for a job as a Shift Control Room Leader at our Lostock site. After the interview process, the Plant Manager at the time gave me some very constructive feedback which enabled me to focus on what I needed to do to be successful in the future. I was then seconded to work on projects, and from that point I have had numerous opportunities to show my ability."

John Foster's journey

How did you get to where you are now?
"I'm currently in the role of Sodium Bicarbonate Manufacturing Manager, but I literally started at the bottom and worked my way up to this level through hard work.

I started at Tata straight from school. My first role was part of a scheme for 16-year-olds, where I worked in the mail room and stores. This scheme also paid for my driving lessons and my test, which was a massive advantage. 

From there, I progressed to my second role in the Sodium Bicarbonate area, packing and despatching, and then went on to learn all of the process jobs within that business area over the next ten years.

Since then, I have held several process operating roles within the Ammonia Soda department, and was part of the Sodium Bicarbonate Team for projects, and worked in the implantation of the DMS plant.

I later become part of the commissioning team for the new Sodium Bicarbonate plant at Lostock, before becoming promoted to the Plant Area Leader."

How has Tata's training programme helped you?
"One training course that always comes to mind is a leadership course which really helped me to progress my career within the company."

Have you had any assistance with your career progression?
"Yes, in addition to this, other managers, including Chris Foxley and Karl Cleary, have given me the confidence and the time to help me develop and succeed.

This company recognises all aspects of people's capabilities, and rewards hard work- not just academic ability. "

What advice do you have for anyone considering a career at Tata Chemicals Europe?
"I always remember my father's advice: have a good work ethic, and give people respect- whoever they are in the company."

Sonal Patel's journey

How did you get to where you are now?
"I started at Tata in October 2013, and started out covering for the Clarity, Capability and Commitment Manager, before the role changed Learning & Development Manager, my current role.

Before Tata, I started out as a Sales Advisor in B2B and in retail roles, before moving into store management. I moved into Learning & Development over 13 years ago, and have never looked back.

I worked as a freelance consultant and contractor for over five years, and in that time, I have been fortunate to work with a lot of different organisations such as United Utilities, Vodafone, Kelloggs, JJB Sports, AQA and Warburtons.

I started at Tata as a fixed-term contractor, but was warned that the company does get under your skin and I wouldn't want to leave. This is the first permanent role that I have had since April 2008 and I love it. The people in this business are fantastic and I can't imagine wanting to work anywhere else."

How has Tata's training programme helped you?
"Although I'm quite new to the business, I've already attended a two-day course on EQi (Emotional Intelligence) Certification. This was invaluable, helping me to administer EQi personality profiles and feedback, and coach managers and individuals on their behaviours and personal impact. It was great learning for me, but the business benefit is that we can now do these in house as part of any management development, instead of relying on external consultants for this service

Have you had any assistance with your career progression?
"Everyone I have met at Tata has made me feel welcome and supported. There is so much technical knowledge in this business with really gifted and talented experts.

I don't have a chemical background and the products and processes were very new to me. However, in my time here, I've never felt as though I was asking a daft question. If anything, operational and technical colleagues have been delighted to share their knowledge, and I have always been impressed with the passion and depth of expertise that we have."

What advice do you have for anyone considering a career at Tata Chemicals Europe?
"The Tata name is huge, in that we are part of a much larger group of businesses with a massive reputation and a proud heritage. We also have a proud history here in Cheshire, as parts of our plant have been here before Tata was even born.

At the same time, we are a relatively small company in the group, and so we are able to leverage the strengths of being part of a large established company, at the same time as trying to ensure we are agile, lean and maximise our impact.

This makes for a fantastic company with huge ambition, but at the same time with a real family feel.

If you can balance a passion for our business and our people with ability to think creatively and the drive to help this business succeed and grow, you can have a great career here. Just be warned, you might start out with colleagues, but you'll end with a lot of friends!"

Steve McGuinness' journey

How did you get to where you are now?
"In 1990, when I was 16 years old, I started as a trainee with ICI with a group called TTE (Technical Training Enterprise), who trained the intake of trainees for ICI, Shell and Kemira.

I transferred from ICI to Brunner Mond in 1991 when ICI divested, and left the college to finish my training as a Process Trainee. I could have chosen Control Electrical or Mechanical, but preferred the process chemistry side of things. I spent a few weeks working in the Lostock lab, before taking part in training projects. I then went on to take my first 'real' role at 18, when I joined the shift team at the Lostock power station.

I was transferred from the power station at 20 years of age, where I learnt several more shift operator roles. I progressed from these roles to Relief Control Room Leader, Senior Section Head, Day Production Manager and then into a Plant Manager role for the lime/DBO plant area.

I then had a period where I moved out of plant management into some commissioning work, followed by waste coordination and then a six-month plant-based trial. After this, I came back into production, firstly as a Production Coordinator and then back into a Plant Manager role, this time covering the whole Lostock site.

I stayed in this role for around 18 months, before moving into my current role: Technical Manager, Soda Ash Business."

How has Tata's training programme helped you?
"In my mid 20s, I was put on a 'Certificate In Team Leadership' course that ran over a 15-month period, with around one full day's training per month, and then homework in between. I found this course hugely beneficial.

I was good at picking up technical details and how to operate the plant, but not so good when it came to dealing with other people or self-confidence. A fundamental part of the course was to first learn about what type of character you are. As this was built up, along with other teaching from the course, we were encouraged and coached on developing our weaker traits.

The main course leader was very visual (and entertaining) in the way he delivered the material, particularly when it came to dealing with character traits, personalities, etc. His particular style just seemed to work very well for me. I gained a huge amount of confidence from doing this, and it was shortly after completing the course that I applied for and was successful in getting a role as a Senior Section Head.

In my early 30s, I also attended several leadership courses that ran internally. These were well constructed, and again, did further work on understanding your own character, enhancing the good and developing the weaker aspects.

At the age of 34, I went back into part-time education and did a five-year Chemistry degree.

Although it was difficult to balance this with work and family life, just doing the course and realising I could do well, gave me another huge confidence boost, despite leaving school at 16 thinking I was not at all academic.

This been very useful, and skills learned along the way can be applied in other situations. So technically, I am more capable than I was, and it also forced me to learn to be more organised and structured in how I approach my working life.

Most recently, I have done my Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and then Black Belt training. I have benefitted greatly from the training. The common sense DMAIC approach can be used in almost any situation, even with minimal use of the statistical tools.

This approach has further improved the way I deal with problems and new situations at work, and to some degree, has even proved beneficial in my personal life when dealing with multiple agencies to try and reach a solution to schooling problems for my two autistic sons."

Have you had any assistance with your career progression?
"My Training Manager (who later became my Shift Manager), and another Shift Manager who I worked with for my first few years on shift work, were very supportive and encouraging. (They also provided a bit of good-natured micky taking, which helps to keep you grounded and to remember your roots!)

Several of the Operations Managers I have had over the years have also been very supportive, whether it be getting me onto the Team Leadership Course, supporting me through my first few years in line management, or at a later point, encouraging me to do my degree and supporting me through that.

My current Operations Manager has worked hard with me and encouraged me to branch out in a slightly different direction, rather than full on production work. So my current role as a Technical Manager requires a slightly different set of skills, and if I am honest, I would not have thought to go into that role myself.

But with the encouragement and training I have received, I have expanded the range of work I am able to do, and feel comfortable doing certain elements of my role that I would not have previously.

In addition, several other managers and team leaders from the CE/Maintenance teams have also helped me along the way, increasing my level of knowledge and understanding in areas I have not got a good background in. This was particularly helpful to me as a young Senior Section Head/Day Production Manager. Their help and patience was all key in aiding my own personal development and understanding of the soda ash business."

What advice do you have for anyone considering a career at Tata Chemicals Europe?
"Be resilient. Be passionate. It does not necessarily mean automatic promotion, but it does help.

Also, take opportunities that come up and don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Learning about yourself is also crucial. Some skills are inherent and some have to be learned depending upon who you are.

Just because it does not come naturally, it does not mean you can't be good at it. Much can also be learned from other people. If you respect or admire someone, work out why. What is it about them that is good? Do they have skills that you should seek to develop? Can they help you? And most importantly, many of these skills can be learnt from those around you and those that work for you.

Don't ever think you can only learn from those more senior than yourselves or you are missing out on a huge opportunity.

I think you have to want to be in this industry and to be passionate about getting involved in good old fashioned manufacturing, but with the aim to take it to the next level so you can leave something sustainable for those that come after.

I fell into ICI just because my grandfather worked for ICI and said it was a job for life. Luckily, I have loved working here, and enjoying something makes it easier.

Working at Lostock has provided me with many opportunities, and just because you start your working life in one area, it does not mean you cannot branch out as you learn new skills and find out what makes you tick. So I would advise people to keep an open mind, give it a try and work hard at whatever you do."