developing and inspiring our people

People - Illovo sugar

how we safeguard, develop and inspire our people

People - Grad girl in china

Laura Diego

Factory Manager


AB Sugar celebrating our women in business
Laura Diego Factory Manager Azucarera

Laura started her career at Azucarera more than 15 years ago, joining after university. She has worked in many different locations and in different roles but more recently has become the Group’s first female factory manager. On this milestone, Laura says:‚Äč

"Every experience we encounter contributes to our learning.”

Achieving a company first

“I’ve spent many years working in the Research and Development (R&D) centre where I was surrounded by so many inspiring female colleagues. Here I was given the opportunity to travel to some of AB Sugar’s other sugar factories including those in the UK and China;  developing my knowledge further of how factories can operate more efficiently and increase productivity. Being able to travel and build a wider network of contacts is so enriching and we still keep in touch today.

“My time at the R&D centre also helped to prepare me for the challenging role of being a factory manager as I had an overall view of the whole business areas from not only operations, but agriculture, commercial and quality too.  Being the first female factory manager felt a big responsibility at first but I’d like to use my experience in this role to inspire the next generation of female colleagues to pursue their career within the business, and to think differently about which direction their careers could go, for example into the factory like me.”

Life in the factory

“Every day is different but as a factory manager, I spend a lot of my time with our teams. Health and safety and food safety and quality are all of upmost importance and a key part of my role is to ensure that these are all maintained and are at the forefront of everyone’s minds from the moment they step on site. When we’re in campaign - the period from when sugar beet is lifted and delivered to our factories to be processed - my focus is also shared with ensuring that we are running as efficiently as possible, managing any issues that may arise and trouble-shooting with minimal impact. Once campaign is completed, my working day focuses on analysing the previous campaign performance and planning for the next. I also spend time thinking about how my factory could adapt in the future to ensure we are continuing to meet customers changing needs and requirements.”

My advice to those starting out…

“Take advantage of every opportunity to learn, to increase networking and to travel. Every experience we encounter contributes to our personal development, and the more we learn from these experiences the better we will be as people and professionals.”

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