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James Allen, Process Engineer.

Interested in finding out what it is like to go through the application process for the James Walker graduate programme and what the jobs involve? Some of our previous and current graduates can guide you through their experiences.

Name: James Allen
Role: Process Engineer

What made you apply to James Walker?
James Walker is built on a combination of tradition and friendly working communities. The company is hugely supportive of its developing engineers for whom ongoing modernisation and innovation projects provide a broad range of invaluable experiences. This coupled with the companies multinational nature make James Walker a unique employer to develop an engineering career with.

Roles/Responsibilities on the graduate scheme
I joined James Walker in a process engineering role straight from University in 2014, and subsequently transferred onto the group graduate programme in 2017. I relocated from Devon to Cumbria for my first placement and settled in with ease, due to the friendly and supportive James Walker community. On my first placement, I was primarily tasked with completing the initial phase of productionising one of the company's new wind products. I was supported with training on production equipment and the freedom to make proactive decisions between weekly meetings.

My second placement was based in Singapore, where I was tasked with autonomously finding and resolving problems in manufacturing. Part of this involved project managing the relocation of production equipment, from design through to implementation.

Roles/Responsibilities after the graduate scheme
Since completing the graduate scheme, I have transferred back to the Cumbria facility, to a permanent role as a process engineer. My main focus has been to support the introduction of a manufacturing method, new to James Walker. I have also run a full investigation into the manufacturing process for one of our more sensitive products, finding the root causes of problems, identifying solutions and working with the management team to implement solutions.

If you could go back, would you join the graduate scheme again?
The short answer is an easy yes! The graduate scheme has been instrumental in building a strong foundation for career progression. It has also worked well in supporting my progression to professional registration with IMeche, created constant networking opportunities and unforgettable global travel experiences.

The management in my department have been exceptionally supportive with regards to developing a route for continued career development into the future. The skills and experience gained on the graduate scheme, including part-time study, have provided an huge head start by facilitating a deeper and more diverse understanding of the business and its processes.

Most enjoyable part of your job?
It's tricky to pick one aspect, so here's a top 3:

  • Every day is a new learning day.
  • Freedom to make proactive decisions on a daily basis.
  • Working as part of a friendly and supportive community.

Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
Running process engineering for one of the James Walker sites.

What are your hobbies outside of work?
In my spare time I enjoy the following hobbies: 3D printing, mountain biking, open source projects, archery, cycling and watching rugby.

What was your favourite day at work or project so far?
My favourite project has been the manufacturing review mentioned above. My brief was completely open; find the problems and fix them. I was entirely at liberty to decide how to proceed. The task enabled me to capitalise on the networking, skills and experience gained due to my participation on the graduate scheme.

What advice would you give a younger you?
Believe in yourself and seize the right opportunities as they present themselves.

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