From HGV apprentice to Manager
Managing Your own Branch
When you think of a HGV apprenticeship, the initial goal is to finish as a trained technician, end of. But the opportunities are there to make your career into what you want it to be. So, if aiming for management is an option, what would the career journey involve?
With around 50% of TruckEast current management starting their careers as apprentices, it is evident that the route is there if you want it. We catch up with one of our managers, Colin Dee, who has been with TruckEast since leaving school to find out his story. A winning combination of hard work, support and career development, meant that in 15 years he went from apprentice to Depot Manager.
How it all started
Proud to have joined the industry as a hgv apprentice, Colin was exposed to the world of trucks from a young age as his father was an owner driver. "I knew it was something of interest. I'd had a Saturday job at a garage and wanted to get stuck in. So, when the opportunity at Stowmarket came, I jumped. In fact, I actually asked if there was anything before the role was even advertised."
The beauty of doing a hgv apprenticeship is you have a clear immediate path of the next steps in front of you. At the end of a three-year apprenticeship programme, you are a fully qualified technician. But what next? How do you progress to become a manager?
"For me, it was quite fast and not necessarily the traditional route," comments Colin. "I started my apprenticeship in 2000, graduated in 2003 and became a supervisor in the recycled parts workshop by 2013. I was rebuilding gearboxes and engines, with the occasional cover in the office which helped build my overall understanding of the business rapidly. It was from here that I progressed to Depot Manager at Felixstowe in 2015."
Exposure to new opportunities
As a technician at TruckEast, you continuously learn and develop new skills through various Scania training. The industry is constantly evolving with new vehicles coming through into the marketplace, so the exposure to new opportunities is vast. Colin actually went for and achieved Master Technician status in the workshop and now enjoys working on the development of his own team.
"I really enjoy the people side of my role. It's important that our staff are happy and enjoy their role. We need the right people in the right places, and giving them the tools and support to develop and grow is very rewarding," continues Colin.
Once becoming Depot Manager, Colin undertook an intense training programme through Scania which he says gave him a great introduction into management but also highlighted key focuses for him personally. It goes without saying that development and traditional training routes are important, but how do you transition from working on a truck into managing an operation? "When I came into my current role, I joined a great and supportive management team. You've got the help and direction from your line manager, but also know that the rest of the team (depot managers) are only one call away. They are living and breathing the same challenges as you daily, so it's a great community to be part of."
For anyone looking at this career path, what does running a branch involve? It is safe to say that no two days are the same. But what are the main principles of the role? "It's a balancing act. The people side, so my team and supporting them to be the best that they can be. And then the customers; building relationships with them. Finding out what we can do, to deliver more. There is always moving expectations, because the demands on them change. The other side is the workload and effectively keeping that running."
When asked if there was a simple bit of advise to give an aspiring manager, Colin was fast to respond, "Work hard, get stuck in, and don't be scared to put yourself forward."