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An interview with Jonathan Wilson on how he is empowered to continue his own development
At Schneider Electric we really believe in life-long learning and we are empowered to take ownership of our learning. This helps us continuously innovate for our customers, keeping us ahead of the game, individually and collectively.
Hear the thoughts of Jonathan Wilson, Sales Specifier Engineer, at Schneider Electric and recent BEng (Hons) Power Systems, as he is interviewed by the UK and Ireland Diversity and Inclusion lead, Siobhan Kelly-Bush, about how he has been able to continue to focus on his own personal development while working for Schneider Electric, and how Schneider has contributed to his journey.
Siobhan Kelly-Bush: Jonathan, can you tell me a little bit about what you did before joining Schneider Electric?
Jonathan Wilson: I was studying Sports & Exercise Science at Stafford College – so nothing to do with engineering whatsoever! Once I finished the course, I didn’t have a real drive to move forward in that industry and wanted to get into something much more interesting, so I decided to look for an apprenticeship and came across Schneider Electric.
SKB: From joining Schneider Electric as an Apprentice, can you describe your development journey with us?
JW: I joined Schneider in 2011 as an Engineering Apprentice working in the low voltage division undertaking several technical and commercial roles. During the 2-3 years as an Apprentice, I obtained various Level 3 qualifications. Following this, I joined the low voltage engineering team as a Bid Engineer and went onto bidding for complete electrical distribution projects thereafter. Whilst doing this I completed a Higher National Certificate (HNC) Electrical & Electronic Engineering distance learning course and became professionally registered with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). I then became a Specification Engineer and completed a BEng (Hons) Power Systems degree which is IET accredited to partial CEng, via Aston University’s Gateway Route of Entry Programme, achieving a First Class and ‘Best Student’ prize.
“I then became a Specification Engineer and completed a BEng (Hons) Power Systems degree which is IET accredited to partial CEng, via Aston University’s Gateway Route of Entry Programme, achieving a First Class and ‘Best Student’ prize.”
SKB: Why did you select this development path?
JW: Since joining Schneider Electric, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about electrical engineering. I have always had a drive to really understand things and further my learning. This is why I chose to study via distance learning whilst working full-time, as this gave me the opportunity to apply theoretical understanding to real-life applications. With the degree programme being IET accredited, it also aligned with my personal and professional development objectives.
SKB: How was the degree course and how did you apply the learning?
JW: The degree course was challenging but great, and the modules were varied and very relevant. Throughout the course, I was mainly assessed on work-based technical reports on topics that were agreed with the University and which met the module aims and objectives. By having this blended approach, I was able to directly apply the learning to new and ongoing design projects. I have also created reports/guides on power system topics that have been shared internally with colleagues to help with specific subjects.
SKB: How has Schneider Electric supported you in achieving your degree?
JW: Schneider supported me throughout my degree by providing the opportunity to work with expert teams, including a Research & Development team, to help fulfill my degree assessments. Schneider also allowed me to take study days to support my exam revision and assignment completion, as well as contributing financially to the course fees which were both a huge help. This support from Schneider is impressive as it really shows how they support employees to achieve their learning and development goals with opportunities to learn both internally and externally.
“This support from Schneider is impressive as it really shows how they support employees to achieve their learning and development goals with opportunities to learn both internally and externally.”
SKB: Did you get support from others and do you have a mentor?
JW: Of course! Several people supported me when doing my degree; from my direct line managers to other engineers when I was undertaking design projects. As the degree was a work-based blended learning course, I was required to have support from an industrial mentor. Kevin Jones, Cross Technology Consultancy Manager, was my mentor and he played an instrumental role in guiding me on a technical and professional level.
SKB: What advice would you give to someone studying and working at the same time?
JW: Be dedicated, put in the hard work, manage your time, and don’t be worried about reaching out to people if you need any support. But most of all, make sure you really enjoy what you study – this way it doesn’t seem like studying and makes the long days not so bad!
SKB: What would you say to your ‘younger self’ or others wanting to follow a similar path?
JW: Just go for it! The hard work and dedication will be worth it. I think a blended approach of mixing studying with the workplace is a great way to really apply theories and understand concepts.
SKB: You’ve put in a lot of work over the years, what is it that really interests you in engineering?
JW: Engineering is one of those things where you must balance various factors including risk, quality, and time. You almost never have a perfect situation with 100% of the information that is required to undertake a task, so careful judgment needs to be exercised to enable activities and projects to be completed. Another thing that interests me is that if one aspect is looked at in isolation, it may seem fine, but this will most likely have an influence on something else, and that may subsequently impact something else – so you need to look at the bigger picture.
SKB: what’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given, and why is it relevant at Schneider Electric?
JW: “Never lose the want to learn” is something that will always stick in my mind. In the power industry, things are constantly evolving, it is very dynamic, and there are always new things to understand. So, if you lose the want to learn, it will be difficult to keep up in this fast-paced environment.
“Never lose the want to learn” is something that will always stick in my mind.
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