Alumni Profile - Nicholas West

District Food Safety and Health Safety Officer, Sandwell Metropolitan Council

Nicholas"The lecturers were easily the best point of my course. The support given to the students from the lecturers was also very much appreciated." 

Higher Certificate in Food Premises Inspection, 2011

How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?

Once I had graduated I was asked to carry out low risk food hygiene inspections (C, D and E category) as per the code of practice. Once the professional interview was completed along with extra courses for food standards and food identification, and the log book was successfully completed and signed off I was moved onto higher risk food premise inspections (A and B category). I currently do mostly A, B and C food inspections, service requests and accident investigations.

What is the best thing about the job you are doing now?

I am still employed! Due to the changes in health and safety enforcement my original role was solely health and safety, if it wasn't for the food course I would probably have been made redundant. I get to meet a variety of people from lots of different cultures and no two days are the same. The role I do now is also very flexible.

Why did you originally apply to do your chosen course at Birmingham?

Having worked at the council for 12 months I was offered the chance to enrol for the food qualification as the department I worked in covered both health and safety and food safety. Birmingham was the obvious choice, other staff members had attended their previously and some staff had ties with Sandwell.

What were the best points of your course at the University?

The lecturer's were easily the best point, the support given to the students from the lecturers was also very much appreciated. I enjoyed the practical exercises in the lab and also meeting new people, some of which I am still in touch with.

What advice would you give to current students studying on the course?

Be open minded, I am not academic in any way but managed to pass the course. The case studies come thick and fast, if you get behind it is difficult to catch up. Ask questions, if you don't understand something don't walk away. Realise that it will eat into your spare time but commit to the course fully.

How did you grow as a person by studying at the University? Did it change your life in any way?

Massively! I am now following a completely different career path, I am a competent health and safety officer with well recognised qualifications and years of practical experience, however I am also gaining knowledge of the food sector as a whole, being able to understand why something is done rather than simply being told that something needs to be done, as there is a big difference.