4 minute read
10 Questions With – Jason Fewell, Engineering Director at Wyke Farms
1 – If you were prime minister, what would be the first thing you would change or improve for manufacturers?
The UK is widely regarded as the home of quality manufacturing. It is crucial that we build on this and secure our future appeal on a global stage. If I was Prime Minister I would focus on securing this reputation by investing and developing pioneering technology. The UK is never going to be the ‘cheap’ option – but we have quality and world renowned design – we must build on this & have to play to our strengths.
2 – If you were given 1 million pounds – how would you invest that in your business?
We would use the money to develop our apprenticeship scheme. There is a huge skills shortage across the UK right now and engineering is one of the most challenging areas to find appropriate candidates. Manufacturing is often viewed as the poor relation to aerospace and automotive so this adds to the challenge for us. Manufacturing is equally as advanced and arguably more varied so it’s important we get this message across. We already do a lot to develop young talent but an additional 1 million pounds would certainly help!
3 – What’s one thing you have implemented in your business that you would encourage other manufacturers to embrace and implement?
A sustainability strategy at the core of the business. Through ‘Wyke Farms 100% Green’ we protect the local environment and minimise our impact but it makes good business sense through efficient working and saving costs.
4 – What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Surround yourself with positive forward thinking people.
5 – What one thing would you change to make your business more efficient and productive if money was no object?
For an engineer that is a vast question. Wyke Farms is continually investing to ensure that we move with the times, and continue to invest in green energy. If money was no object, how much would be wasted without truly appreciating what is important? Obviously, this dilemma would be a nice one to have.
6 – What is a typical day for you? Time you wake up, get to the factory/office, go home etc.
I wake up at around 6:00am and take my daughter to ‘early birds’ at school for 7am – luckily she takes after my wife and I, and is an early riser! Work is only a few minutes away from home and my daughters school so I get into work just after 7am. I then check that all is okay with the Plants and have a catch up with my team. I take care of my jobs for the day and answer my emails. I head home at around 6pm.
7 – How do you think the manufacturing community can collectively continue to engage and interest young people in manufacturing careers?
Students make decisions that can influence their adult careers when they are as young as 12 or 13. Therefore, it is vitally important that we make them aware of all of the options and make a serious effort to do this as early as possible. We use our Sustainability Visitor Centre at Wyke Farms to host school groups and visits throughout the year, we have students from primary school age right up to undergraduates come and visit. It is so rewarding to see how interested and engaged the students are. I think all businesses who can, should offer similar visits. It’s incredibly rewarding and hopefully rewarding for the students to see manufacturing first hand.
8 – Any wise words, advice or tips for someone looking to pursue a career in manufacturing?
Go for it! Don’t worry how menial or supposedly low ranking you may deem the job. Food manufacture is one of the only remaining industries that looks at the person’s abilities and enthusiasm rather than solely whats on paper. The training is brilliant and the career rewarding.
9 – If you could choose, what would you like your legacy to be once you retire?
Helping to develop the talent on my team. I am committed to rewarding hardworking, talented and enthusiastic individuals – it isn’t always about whats on paper. A number of our apprentices were previously production workers or school leavers looking for a career. We have developed many excellent engineers from the grassroots up – one of who is now a senior manager. I am so proud of my team. If my legacy was the continued commitment to the development of talent I would be very happy.
10 – What is your view on post-Brexit Britain – positive, negative or indifferent and why?
We still don’t have clear idea of what post Brexit Britain will look like. We hear daily how much it will cost but not what it will deliver. I was against leaving Europe as we have some excellent trading partners, however, I think it is important that we make the most of the situation and pursue a strategy that will work for all and reiterate that the UK is open for business. It’s important that we convey a positive message on a global stage. We also need to make sure that we provide stability and security for the European families who live and work in the UK – without whom we would not function as a country.
10 Questions With… is a regular feature where we put a variety of quick fire questions to manufacturing leaders and role models to get to know the people behind manufacturing success in the UK.
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