Counting down to the 10th TOTY lunch celebrations

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Published: 15 October 2019


acr trainee apprentice award belfry winner engineer skills air conditioning refrigeration
This year will mark the 10th ACR Trainee of the Year celebration
The 2019 ACR Trainee of the Year Awards will take place at The Belfry on December 5, the 10th time this extremely popular not-for-profit event has been held to support and celebrate the next generation of engineers in the industry.

Here we catch up with some of the previous winners… with more to follow soon.
acr trainee apprentice award belfry winner engineer skills air conditioning refrigeration
Jonathon Simpson now
acr trainee apprentice award belfry winner engineer skills air conditioning refrigeration
Jonathon in 2010
2010: JONATHON SIMPSON

What was your role at the time and what is your current job?
Back in 2010 I’d recently moved into the design office at Honeywell after spending a few years on the tools. I was mainly involved in the design of retail refrigeration systems for large UK supermarkets. I moved to FEL Group in 2015 and I’m now leading the design team. This has become a very customer focussed/client facing role, offering support to the sales team, attending trade shows and networking events, and helping other departments throughout the business. The majority of our work is the design and build of data centres. 

What is the most useful/important thing you have learned so far?
Any chance you get to spend with more experienced, knowledgeable people should be grabbed with both hands! Even if it’s just sharing a car journey to site or staying late at the office brainstorming ideas. When these people retire, you’ll wish you spent more time with them.
 
Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have worked very closely with some very experienced people. I can’t thank them enough for the time they’ve spent with me and the knowledge/experience they’ve passed on to me. Whilst at Honeywell and now at FEL Group my direct line managers, Guy Hodgins and Paul Horsley, have both provided me with a great foundation to build my career on. Both are now enjoying retirement. 

What would you say to anyone considering an apprenticeship?
I’ve recently been interviewing for our latest recruitment of apprentices at FEL Group. It’s a scheme I really believe in because I feel it’s worked very well for me and my career. There’s nothing wrong with going to university, but I like to see young people who are happy to get their hands dirty and get stuck in whilst learning on the job! To people who are considering an apprenticeship, having an employer pay for your training and allow you the time to attend college is a fantastic opportunity. 

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
In 10 years’ time I would like to have returned to further education, and continue to gain knowledge and experience whilst becoming more distinguished and respected in my field of expertise.

Next: John Forteith
acr trainee apprentice award belfry winner engineer skills air conditioning refrigeration
John Forteith now
acr trainee apprentice award belfry winner engineer skills air conditioning refrigeration
John in 2011
2011: JOHN FORTEITH

What did being named ACR Trainee of the Year mean to you
At the time it was a realisation that there was potential to excel within the industry and build a career. Before my apprenticeship I’d been jobbing-around and generally not going anywhere fast

What was your role at the time and what is your current job? 
At the time I was an apprentice engineer for a small company on the west coast of Scotland (Forteith Refrigeration & Heat Pump Solutions). I’m now employed by Nestlé as industrial services compliance manager on their flagship coffee manufacturing site, along with running the start-up and commissioning of two major projects (a large biomass boiler installation and a new effluent treatment plant).

What is the most useful/important thing you have learned so far? 
The skills learnt in one trade are cross-functional. Working independently as a refrigeration & air conditioning service engineer on varying sizes and complexities of plant has given me a good base in developing my understanding of different processes and aspects of engineering

Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date? 
When I made the move to Nestlé it was as a shift technician. The local refrigeration specialist and the industrial services manager took a bit of a punt on employing me over others as my experience on proper Industrial refrigeration equipment was lacking (the site has a complex NH3/CO2 cascade system and a large centralised NH3 chilled water system – much more involved than what I’d previously worked on). They have really been mentors to me and I doubt my competence or career would be anywhere close to what it is without their guidance

What would you say to anyone considering an apprenticeship? 
Put in the time and ask questions – my biggest gripe with a lot of apprentices is that they often don’t show a genuine interest. You’re there to learn, not to be taught. More often than not the people you work with on-the-tools primary function is not to teach, so don’t expect to be spoon-fed information

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time? 
I’m currently enjoying working for a big company as the opportunities to develop myself and get involved in interesting engineering projects are constantly available. So long as I’m continuing to learn and develop myself I’m not too fussed on ‘where’ I am (although it wouldn’t hurt to be earning a small fortune while doing it!).

NEXT: Aaron Ludlow
acr trainee apprentice award belfry winner engineer skills air conditioning refrigeration
Aaron Ludlow now
acr trainee apprentice award belfry winner engineer skills air conditioning refrigeration
Aaron in 2012
​2012: AARON LUDLOW

What did being named ACR Trainee of the Year mean to you?
It meant a great deal to win ACR Trainee of the Year. It was recognition of all the hard work, early mornings and late nights. It gave me a great confidence boost and an absolute ‘can-do’ attitude. I think it’s great for a young person entering a trade to get an achievement like this at such an early stage in their career.

What was your role at the time and what is your current job?
My role at the time was apprentice service engineer at Weatherite. I am now a lead contracts engineer, managing other contract engineers, installation jobs, all aspects of H+S and everything in between.

What is the most useful/important thing you have learned so far?
I think everything I have learned from being a service engineer has set me up with great knowledge being a contracts engineer. I can see the jobs from the installation aspect and assist with technical issues.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
There have been numerous influences on my career so it would be almost impossible to tie this down to one person. The fact my dad has also worked at the company for 25 years+ made a big impact on me getting into the trade. Every engineer I have worked with has made an impact on me in different ways, as each engineer has different knowledge. In my current role, I would have to say my manager, Paul Evans, due to the fact he was very patient and understanding when I first started in this role, and his technical knowledge from being in the trade for so many years is extraordinary. From an admin point of view our administration manager, Kerry Powell, has been a massive help with all things in the office. Nothing is too much to ask. I’d also like to mention my director, Ricky Brookes, as he has been extremely supportive over the years with my choices and always offered me great opportunities within the business. Everybody at the company is so forthcoming and helpful and everybody I’ve had to deal with has been great.

What would you say to anyone considering an apprenticeship?
Do it! It can be the most important thing in your career as it builds the foundation of the trade you’re in and the skills and knowledge you learn at that age is second to none.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

I try not to put any pressure on my career. Everything to date has kind of fell into place so I’d be happy with whatever position I’m in at that time.