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Claire Toynton, BSc (Hons) Baking Technology Management

Claire found that studying at LSBU gave her the practical skills required to make good industry contacts, build a career, and even win an award

For many, graduating from our BSc (Hons) Baking Technology Management degree with a First would be achievement enough – but not for Claire Toynton. The gifted baker took her profile a few steps higher when she scooped the Rising Star award at the Baking Industry Awards 2016, beating the best of the British baking industry to pick up the gong.

“Our Course Director, Elaine Thomson, forwarded the entry email to me and suggested I apply,” says Claire. “I’d never felt confident enough to enter before, but I took her advice – I’m glad I did now!”

Building industry experience

The judges had been impressed by Claire’s professionalism and determination, as she had undertaken a string of work placements, visits and internships alongside her studies.

“I started looking for industry experience in my very first year,” says Claire. “David Hall from London Bread & Cake visited LSBU to talk to the first years about a placement at his bakery. I applied immediately, and began working one day a week there. It was a fabulous opportunity, and I met lots of industry professionals as a result.”

Claire used the contacts she made to gain experience through visiting and working in a huge variety of bakeries, flour mills, manufacturers and ingredient suppliers over the next three years of her course. “I was also interested in teaching, so obtained accreditation through STEMnet (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths network) to volunteer in schools, teaching children about baking,” she says.

Practical skills and training

Claire feels fortunate to have studied at LSBU, and feels that the facilities and practical nature of the course have given her a great start to her career. “I was nervous at first, having spent some time out of education,” she admits. “However, it wasn’t just educational – it was great fun.” 

I enjoyed every aspect of the practical side of the course, especially the product development module. Having free reign to create and innovate was amazing, and has shaped my career choices and ambitions since.

Claire Toynton

Alongside the baking skills she developed, Claire also values the business understanding the course developed in her. “The combination of practical baking with business management and science ticked all the boxes for me,” she says. “I was also excited by the central London location and the state-of-the-art equipment in the National Bakery School at LSBU. I felt very lucky to be able to study in that environment and felt it offered everything I needed to kick-start my bakery skills and training.”

Seizing career opportunities

Aside from her success at the Baking Industry Awards, Claire has also secured a role as a Bakery Technologist at Delifrance since graduating. “It’s a company that can offer me so many opportunities to widen my skills and knowledge and further my career,” she says. “I’d love to launch concepts that go on to succeed, and want to stay in the baking trade for a long time. I’ve met so many supportive, encouraging people who have helped me get to this stage, and I’d love to help others in the same way in the future.”

Claire’s advice to current students is to make the most of their time at university as it goes so quickly. “It’s also worth stressing the importance of networking, making contacts and getting out into the industry,” she says. “Approach employers and introduce yourself – ask if there are opportunities to do a visit or a short work placement. It might even lead to a job! I left university with so much more confidence knowing I already had a network of supportive colleagues and a background of industry experience.”

An amazing experience

It’s an approach that has certainly worked for Claire, demonstrated not only by the successful launch of her career, but also through her recognition by the industry. “It was an amazing experience to know that industry professionals such as Piero Scacco and David Powell think that you deserve such an accolade,” she smiles. “I really hope that I do them proud in the future.”

Find out more about the National Bakery School.