It’s National Apprenticeship Week, and to celebrate we hear from Lewis Wassell as he talks about his career journey so far, from Apprentice to Product Application Engineer, and what it’s like to work at Schneider Electric.
What attracted you to do an apprenticeship with Schneider Electric?
During my final two years of Secondary School, I attended Telford College of Arts and Technology two days a week where I studied an NVQ Level Two in Performing Engineering Operations, which covered both Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.
While I enjoyed all aspects of the course, I quickly started to take a key interest in Electrical Engineering. From a young age, I knew I wanted to move onto an apprenticeship after leaving school, the combination of gaining valuable knowledge and experience at work as well as continuing with my studies and working towards a qualification at college really appealed to me.
As part of my NVQ course, I spent several weeks on work experience placements with various Engineering companies within the Telford and Wrekin area. My first placement was at Schneider Electric, where I spent time working within the adaptations team.
During the summer of 2008, after completing my GSCE’s, I started to apply for several apprenticeships in Electrical Engineering. I was contacted by a company called Connexions, who informed me that Schneider was taking on apprentices. As I had already completed work experience with the company, I was interested straight away. I carried out some research to get a better understanding of the products and solutions the company provided. It was at this point I realised just how big Schneider Electric was!
Tell us about your career journey so far?
After a successful interview, I joined Schneider Electric in September 2008 on a 3-year apprenticeship. Over the 3 years, I gained valuable experience while rotating around the various departments at our Telford office. I spent time on the Engineering shop floor, building and wiring electrical switchboards, supporting customers over the phone while in Technical Support as well as putting together tenders and bids for small, medium & large electrical projects while working in our Tendering Team.
I also attended Telford College of Arts and Technology once a week where I continued my studies in Electrical Engineering
While coming towards the end of my apprenticeship, I was successful in securing a permanent role with the company, working as an Engineer in the Tendering Team. I worked with a fantastic team who were always very supportive and keen to share their knowledge and experience with me
After 3 years in Tendering, I started looking for my next challenge within the company. In June 2014, I became a Product Application Engineer, which is my current position. This is a customer-facing role covering the whole of the UK. There are many aspects to this role, I assist our customers with technical solutions for Schneider Electric’s smart & connected products, conduct technical product training & presentations as well as on-site product training, commissioning, and support. While in this role, I have been fortunate enough to attend several training courses at one of our key R&D centres in Grenoble, France. This role has also allowed me to build and strengthen my network within Schneider Electric. Over the years. I have worked closely with former Schneider Apprentices who have also moved onto permanent roles and progressed within the company, not just in Telford, but across the various Schneider sites around the country.
In September 2019 I became a Line manager for our current apprentices based in Telford. As a former apprentice, this has been extremely rewarding and I am always keen to share my knowledge and experience that I have gained during my years with Schneider Electric to assist them with their journey.
In September 2020 I became the main contact in the UK for one of our software solutions. In this role, I work directly with our teams in France and India. I assist our customers with training on the software and any queries they may have as well as working with our Marketing Team with the ongoing promotion of the software. As this software is used globally, I am part of an internal community that enables colleagues from around the world to easily collaborate and work together. I worked with a fantastic team who were always very supportive and keen to share their knowledge and experience with me.
Always look at challenging yourself and taking yourself out of your comfort zone, as it will only bring you positive results
Please share your top 3 achievements or experiences to date?
During my apprenticeship, my hard work was recognised by Schneider Electric and Telford College of Arts & Technology and in 2010 I was awarded the Student of the Year award.
In 2020. I was selected to take part in a Sounding board, which concentrated on becoming more digital and data driven. This was a very rewarding experience where I was able to collaborate with colleagues in other areas of Schneider Electric and present our ideas to the Schneider Electric UK Executive Committee.
I am also a registered STEM ambassador; I support local career events in the various Schools and colleges within the Telford and Wrekin area. I am very passionate about apprenticeships and the opportunities they can provide to people, regardless of age.
What has been your biggest challenge and how has Schneider supported you?
In 2018, I start my HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering- a distance learning course through Teesside University. At first, this was a very challenging period, trying to balance my work, studies, and home life with a young family. Schneider has been extremely supportive throughout this period, checking in regularly to see how I am progressing and if I need any support, I am very fortunate that within the business, there are many people who I can contact for assistance if required.
What key factors ensure a successful Apprenticeship at Schneider Electric?
- Always look to see how you can go the extra mile and what can you do to help your colleagues.
- Be open to new ideas, always ask questions.
- Always look at challenging yourself and taking yourself out of your comfort zone, as it will only bring you positive results.
- Reach out to colleagues and former Schneider Electric apprentices for advice and ask them to share their knowledge and experience with you. This will assist you in building a solid network within the company.
- Always look at how you can develop your knowledge and skills, Schneider Electric is dedicated to the development of their employees, the training opportunities are endless!
Any advice you’d give to anyone thinking about doing an Apprenticeship?
If you are looking into an apprenticeship, it is important that you’re CV is up to date, keep a lookout for companies who are taking on apprentices and any assessment days that are taking place. Think to yourself ‘What will help me stand out during interviews and assessment days?’ Make sure you conduct thorough research on the companies you are applying with, this will go a long way during interviews and assessment days.
Your career can take off just like Lewis! Search for and apply for opportunities on our website: www.se.com/careers
About the Author
Lewis Wassell is a Product Application Engineer based out of the Schneider Electric Telford Office. Lewis joined Schneider Electric as an Engineering Apprentice in 2008 where he had exposure to various departments within the Telford office such as Engineering Shop floor, Technical Support and Tendering. After a 3-year apprenticeship, Lewis joined the Low Voltage Tendering Team and assisted customers with tenders and bids for small, medium & large electrical projects for a further 3 years. Currently working in a customer-facing role as a Product Application Engineer, Lewis assists our customers nationally with Technical solutions, with a strong focus on Schneider Electric’s Smart/Connected products. Lewis is also the main contact in the UK for one of Schneider Electric’s commissioning software solutions, this role allows Lewis to regularly collaborate with colleagues from around the world to ensure a high level of customer support