Tata Chemicals

Meet our Team

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!”

Sonal Patel

Learning & Development Manager, Tata Chemicals Europe | Northwich

Joe Evans’ journey

How did you get to where you are now?
“My current job title is Operations Co-ordinator at the Middlewich site, 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.”

Joe Evans

Operations Co-ordinator , Tata Chemicals Europe | Middlewich