What's it like to be a Project Controller at food producer FrieslandCampina?

Hundreds of kilos of milk powder roll across the production line every day. FrieslandCampina's largest baby food production facility for the Chinese market is located in a remote spot in the Netherlands. And it's home to Bruneller and Project Controller Mark Loots! Regarding his work at the company, Mark takes a cow by the horns. Keep reading to learn how.

What do you do as a Project Controller?

"Mainly processes, financial schedules and budgets for investment projects. Everything happens at FrieslandCampina, from small projects from € 1.5 million to large projects of more than € 50 million. We are currently also in the starting blocks for a migration: we will soon be switching from Excel reports to BI (Business Intelligence). This tool extracts data from systems online. That will save me a lot of work on the printing of financial statements. In addition, Project Managers with BI, for example, have direct access to and insight into the finances of the project."

How does that differ from your current working method?

"I have now created a fairly clear working method for myself in Excel. I had to come a long way with that. When I started at FrieslandCampina and project transfer in March 2019, I received various types of reports, even manual variants. I tackled that immediately: I took one report as the basis and started to automate and fine-tune it. Then I applied this standard format for all projects. With the arrival of BI, I will no longer use these reports at all."

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What do you do if you discover an error in financial reports?

"I first look at what's going on; often I can already pick things up myself. In case of larger deviations, I contact the EPC Manager (Engineering Procurement and Construction) directly. We then look together to see what's wrong. Sometimes we also contact the Project Manager for more information. A good example last week was when a department accidentally reopened closed POs (Purchase Orders). Current assignments were suddenly closed. I was working on that for a week. That sort of thing is also part of it. "

How did you find yourself working in the food industry?

"Every now and then, my team and I visit the production locations and view the factory from the inside. This is very cool! Projects we're working on then really come to life. You not only get a better picture of technical equipment that you normally only see digitally, but also a better feeling about what's going on within a project. And you see how seriously FrieslandCampina takes safety. Some spaces may only be entered under strict conditions. I experience FrieslandCampina as a very nice client. Not a day has passed that I was bored, and my team and I take new steps every day. A really good match!" 

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