Q: Hi Alfie and welcome back. When we last spoke you were an Apprentice with Essity at the Stubbins Mill, UK. How has your role changed since we spoke last?
Hi and thank you for having me back! My role has changed massively since then. For a start I am now working in a completely different mill, I am now based in Skelmersdale, UK. As well as this being a geographical change there is also a complete change in the machinery I work with. Stubbins was a papermaking mill and has no facilities to convert the paper into the everyday products we see on the shelves and have in our homes. Skelmersdale is a converting only mill which is a totally different process. So, it does not make any paper, it just converts it from large ‘mother’ rolls to packaged products sold to the consumer. This takes a different approach to what I was working on in my apprenticeship. The training has definitely helped though – it’s not like I have moved onto my new role with a blank slate! I have a strong foundation and I feel confident in what I’m doing. It’s much easier to pick new things up when you already have a pretty good foundation.
Q: What are the main differences between your previous role and current role?
Apart from a complete change in the machinery I was used to working with, I’ve now finished my apprenticeship and have a qualified “blue print” role and it has definitely brought a lot more responsibility. I have to make decisions and I’m accountable for mechanical down time on the converting line I work on. The increased responsibility and trust in my expertise feels great. It’s one of the reasons I decided to go into an apprenticeship in the first place.
Q: How do you feel you have developed professionally and personally in the past two years?
Well I’ve certainly become more competent. I can now tackle more complex issues and find solutions more efficiently than before. Naturally this has allowed me to grow in confidence and really push myself to go as far as possible. Having more responsibility and having people trust fully in my expertise is really encouraging for me. It feels like I am taking big steps in my professional career.
Q: You blogged for a while on the Life at Essity platform, how did you find the whole process?
I really enjoyed blogging, It was nice just to sit down every now and then to reflect on what was going on in both my work life and personal life. Unfortunately, I’m just too busy to blog regularly at the minute, especially with my new job role. There been so much newness to focus on! The blog was also great because you get to meet people from across Essity, who I wouldn’t normally meet through my everyday work. It helped me get an understanding of different aspects of the business and make connections and network a bit outside of my normal area. Sometimes you don’t quite realize all the things you have done / achieved until you sit down and put it in writing. It’s tough sometimes to think of something to say in your blog. But then when you get started it seems to flow a lot easier and things just seem to come to mind as you write. It helps you reflect back on what you have been up to, but also forces you to think about how you could have approached things differently. It can be a really useful exercise.
Q: If you could take one learning from the apprenticeship program what would it be?
I guess primarily it would be to just keep trying and don’t let yourself get defeated by a problem you’re struggling to solve. Everyone who I’ve worked with over my apprenticeship has always been willing to help me, so if you’re stuck on a problem or issue, just ask for help, keep trying and eventually you will get there. Nobody wants to see you fail, they want you to succeed. Having that confidence makes the tough bits a lot easier to deal with.
Q: Is there anything you would like to say to any current of future apprentices?
All I’d say is that, any effort you put in will be recognized and rewarded at some point in the future. You aren’t just a number and if what you are doing is high quality people will take notice. If you’re stuck on anything, just ask for help everyone will be willing to help, trust me!
Q: And finally, help settle the debate: What’s better in your opinion – fork lift trucks or big machines?
Big machines, obviously. Louder, faster, bigger, better!
Thank you Alfie.
First joined Essity: 2014 working at the Stubbins, UK.
Current role: RST Mechanical Technician
Common secret: Bee Keeping
"I’ve recently started keeping bees, currently I have 2 hives of around 20,000 bees each buzzing away at the bottom of the garden. Unfortunately, the typical northern UK summers of rain, rain and more rain have meant I haven’t managed a substantial honey harvest yet. But I’m hoping I’ll be swimming in the stuff come next summer as my hives expand and become more productive! "