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Fiona Stirland, Applications Engineering Technician

Interested in finding out what it is like to learn via an apprenticeship? Some of our previous and current apprentices share their experiences on working for James Walker whilst undertaking qualifications.

Name: Fiona Stirland
Role: Applications Engineering Technician

I started off my time at James Walker in May 2010 as an Internal Sales Representative providing maternity cover at our office in Crewe. This involved dealing with enquiries, quotes and orders for the UK CPI, Pharmaceutical and Semi-Conductor Industries. I became permanent in December 2010 and moved to supporting the UK Defence & Aerospace Industries. During my 12 years of internal sales, I supported a variety of industries including Oil & Gas and Power. Having dealt with a wide range of customers, I've been exposed to a significant variety of the materials and products offered by James Walker. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of handling accounts that involved drawings and specifications which sparked my interest in the more ‘technical’ aspects of sales.

Fortunately, an opportunity for an Application Engineering Technician role came about in mid-2022, which I applied for and was successful. As I did not have an engineering background, one caveat was that I needed to start a formal engineering course within the first 12 months. I started on an Apprenticeship at Cheshire College South West (CCSW) in Crewe which involves day release for a BTEC Level 3 in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering. I am also completing some practical modules such as milling, hand fitting, producing and testing fluid assemblies and CAD that is helping to convert the formal knowledge into practical experience. I am thoroughly enjoying my time back in college even if I am older than some of the lecturers! I am very grateful for the opportunity and the transition has certainly been made easier when your line manager and teammates are so supportive and always willing to help. Especially when it might take me longer to grasp a concept or understand the task.

My advice is, explore the opportunities and know that it is never too late to learn something new. Remember it is not a weakness to ask for help or not to know stuff, it’s just an opportunity to grow.

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