Bradley Hicks joined Dorset-based Superior, a family-owned manufacturer and supplier of high integrity o-rings and seals, as an electrical and maintenance apprentice in 2006. Following completion of his apprenticeship at the company’s Academy at the Ferndown Industrial Estate, he has progressed through the business and in 2011 was appointed as maintenance manager.
The Academy provided Bradley with the opportunity to learn about engineering, science and manufacturing. As a maintenance manager he now oversees a team of the Academy’s apprentices.
Q: What are your main responsibilities in your role?
A: My job involves liaising with all supervisors and managers across our five factories to ensure all machinery and facilities are maintained and operational. This involves prioritising jobs and scheduling work to ensure maximum production efficiency as well as minimising possible machinery downtime. This means carefully selecting jobs and managing time effectively to achieve the most results in efficient time.
In order to do this, I manage a team of apprentices and provide training to enable them to carry out problem-solving tasks. These tasks vary in size and have a broad scope covering electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, cryogenic and motor rewind and repairs.
As well as maintenance of the machinery, my job involves the installation of machinery and equipment across all five factory sites. This will involve the appropriate selection and assembly of facilities such as electrics, plumbing, pneumatics, process fluid and drainage.
I’m also responsible for managing the maintenance workshop and ordering spare parts, consumables and other items. This means dealing with various suppliers from wholesalers to machine manufacturers.
Q: What subjects did you study at school and why did you choose an apprenticeship?
A: I studied English literature, geography, psychology, drama and theatre studies at A level. I was initially planning to go to university. However, I did not always enjoy the classroom environment so I made the decision that an apprenticeship would allow me to continue my education as well as gaining valuable ‘hands-on’ experience. Superior has helped me to achieve this and more!
Q: How did you adjust to being in a workplace? Do you have any tips on staying organised, time-management and working in a team?
A: When I started, the job was very much a culture shock to what I had previously been used to. It meant adapting quickly. Here are a few things which I have learnt:
- Production is key – The job we have is important to keep production functioning. If the machines are not running, the company is not achieving its end goal to produce components. Our primary goal is to keep machinery in operation.
- As a company we are a team – We work together to reach the same goals. Help each other and encourage each other. Lead by example and others will follow you.
- Go the extra mile – Know what is expected of you in your job, then exceed the expectation. This comes down to taking pride in your work.
- Time Management – Manage your time effectively, you don’t have much time during the day so be the most effective with it.
- Curiosity is essential – The more you know about the process, the more you will understand about the machines and therefore how they operate. This will help you to do your job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learning what your company does is vital to the continuity of the business.
- Listen to experience – New to the team? Listen to those who have been there before you. They have the most important thing you don’t – experience. It is more valuable than you know.
Q: Did you always want to do this job?
A: Honestly, no. However, since I started my apprenticeship with Superior and then went on to become a full-time employee, I now cannot imagine myself doing anything else. I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoy my profession.
Q: What advice would you give to someone wishing to do your role?
A: You will get out of an apprenticeship as much as you put in. The more you push yourself the more you will realise how much you are able to do.
Don’t limit yourself and take pride in what you do. If you want to be an electrician, patience is key. Listen to the experience you have around you within your workplace and to those people in other job roles.
Q: Do you see your career changing in the next five to 10 years and if so, how do you see it changing?
A: Yes. I believe it is important to push yourself every day, to learn new skills in order to be the best you possibly can be. Superior is an exciting and progressive company and in order to keep up with this, I will continue to do the same in my job and push to get to a higher level in the company. I hope to have trained others in this field and build a larger team to take on more and exciting challenges.
Superior is continuing with its apprenticeship recruitment drive in readiness for the September 2020 intake, using remote interviewing processes to overcome the current coronavirus lockdown restrictions. The company wishes to reassure all concerned students that its award-winning apprenticeship programme is active and progressing despite the current working and travel restrictions. Both manufacturing and business administration roles are available at its busy factory sites.