SK People – Julie Knight
Julie Knight describes herself as a Social Worker, Headmistress and friend to her colleagues at SK Foods.
Or they are the roles she undertakes during any ‘typical’ day in her role as Head of HR for SK Chilled Foods, if indeed such a thing exists!
She equates the workforce at SK to one big family and her role is to take care of it, offering support and advice when needed and disciplining when necessary!
Julie has held this role since 2017, but her SK journey began some 19 years ago…
Having worked in a number of admin roles for organisations such as Barclaycard, Northern Dairies and Middlesbrough Football Club (more on them shortly), Julie joined the admin team at SK in 2000.
She says: “I remember it well because my daughter was only four months old at the time and she has just started at university!
“Back then we had around 200 staff and this was before the minimum wage so many of the site staff would have been on £2.50 an hour. Now we have 735 staff and we still don’t pay the minimum wage because our employees get the living wage.”
In her first few years, Julie worked in the payroll department and eventually began to take on more HR responsibilities, supported by professional development resulting in her first promotion to HR Manager in 2014.
Now as Head of HR she is responsible for a team of four involved in everything from recruitment, disciplinary matters, training and development, health and safety and the health and wellbeing of our staff through to payroll and pensions management.
Julie says: “I know most of our staff by name and at any one time I can be a social worker, headteacher, disciplinarian and friend.
“I do this job because I love working with people and SK values its staff, which is very important.
“We always strive to do the right thing by our staff, and this can involve supporting them through some very difficult times in their personal lives. It is a privilege to be invited into their lives and help and support where I can, something I am immensely proud to do.
“SK may be a lot bigger now than when I first started but thankfully, we have also kept a small business attitude towards the people who work for us, and that matters.”
Julie’s husband Alan is also an employee of SK working as a supervisor at our Riverside site keeping SK Foods in the family.
Outside of work, mother-of-three Julie enjoys watching her beloved Middlesbrough FC, with the family having season tickets at the Riverside.
She adds: “I am Middlesbrough born and bred so Boro are the only team for me. When I worked at the club, I got to know many of the players, such as Juninho, Robbie Mustoe and Craig Hignett.
“Their other Brazilian player at the time, Emerson, even gave me a samba lesson once!”