Phoenix Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week
This year celebrates the 13th Annual National Apprenticeship Week, taking place from 3rd – 7th February 2020. This year’s theme is “Look Beyond”, highlighting non-traditional routes into employment, and celebrating diversity in Apprenticeships.
We’re putting the spotlight on two members of our team that started out as Apprentices, our Operations Manager Sam Shevyn, and our Design and Production Manager Tom Batham, to find out how they started their Apprenticeship journeys and what advice they would give to young school leavers.
How did your career start at Phoenix?
Tom: I undertook work experience at Phoenix while in my first year of A levels. I kept in touch with the company and started full time as a Mechanical Design Engineer after completing my college course a year later.
Sam: I started as an apprentice in 2012, I worked as a service and calibration engineer with Darren Wilkes, the Technical Director of Phoenix.
How has your career grown since joining Phoenix Materials Testing?
Tom: While at Phoenix I have benefited from exposure to an extensive range of industry sectors, dealing with suppliers, customers and coordinating projects from start to finish. I now have management experience, a considerable network within manufacturing along with a strong technical background.
Sam: I started in the field visiting customers’ sites, servicing and calibrating their equipment. From there I developed my knowledge of our machines and the quality systems we used, and eventually progressed to become the Head of Calibration. During this role, I oversaw the calibration and service operation both technically and commercially. After two years in this role, I moved over to cover production, and I am now the Operations Manager at Phoenix. My role here is to oversee the design, manufacture and delivery of our testing machines as well as supporting service and calibration.
Briefly describe your role at Phoenix
Tom: I coordinate the day-to-day activities of design and production departments, ensuring that each task undertaken contributes towards the objectives of the business. I provide technical input on a variety of areas of the business and continue to contribute significantly to the mechanical design work completed by the department.
Sam: I am responsible for the production of our test machines and equipment, and I also support our service and calibration department. This involves meeting customer requirements, customer communication, and hitting the target revenue.
What has been one of your proudest moments working with Phoenix?
Tom: I completed a degree in Mechanical Engineering while still carrying out and growing my responsibilities at work.
Sam: I achieved the Apprentice of the Year runner up in 2016 at the Black Country Chamber of Commerce Awards, and my promotion to Operations Manager.
What do you enjoy most about working with Phoenix?
Tom: The variety of exposure – you never know what challenges the next day could present!
Sam: The technology and industries we are involved in mean the role is very interesting. Every day is different with new challenges! New investment and support from our parent company Rubery Owen Holdings means that we can expand at a much faster rate than we could have as an individual company.
What do you find most challenging working at Phoenix?
Tom: Management of the unknown! The first-in-class and bespoke nature of the vast majority of projects undertaken make it challenging to accommodate unexpected design and production barriers and can be a real test of resilience.
Sam: Technical challenges with first-in-class systems. We manufacture and test for high-end technology companies in Aerospace and Nuclear, with this comes several technical challenges we need to overcome. The technical challenges require managing our customers to ensure they have complete transparency of the project to support them in managing their internal teams.
What advice do you have for prospective engineering apprentices?
Tom: Go for it! Remember that entering the world of work does not have to mean an end to your academic progress. Qualifications which have been gained as part of an apprenticeship are regarded very highly within the industry.
Sam: Absorb as much knowledge as possible, be open to making mistakes; this will happen, but it is important to try and learn from them. A degree is not the be-all and end-all, industrial/work environments are as important, if not more. Degrees will help you get to the next level but there are many options to complete these at a later date.
How would you describe Phoenix in 3 words?
Tom: Innovative, capable, dynamic
Sam: Interesting, Challenging, Forefront of technology