An insiders view ...

Andrew Shepherd

Andrew Shepherd, Engineering Technical Assistant

Highest level of education: University Degree in Industrial Systems Engineering

Since 2009 at EGGER:

  • Trainee Technical Programmer (2009 – 2012)
  • Engineering Technical Assistant (since 2012)
Manager Programmes:
  • Startklar

Please describe your educational and employment background, including the different roles you have had at EGGER.

Following my National Diploma in Operation and Maintenance Engineering, I went on to study Higher National Diploma in Industrial Systems Engineering, with the hope of topping it up to a full degree. However, whilst I was studying there were concerns that there would not be enough people to run the full degree, therefore I started to send out speculative CVs to large local companies including EGGER.

EGGER invited me to meet with the Plant Director Technical/Production and Engineering Manager, who from looking at my application, thought that they may have a position suitable for me. I was very impressed by the size of the plant, the equipment/technology that was being used and the opportunities which would be available to me.

Following this initial meeting, the opportunity arose for me to complete my full degree, which was something that I was keen to do. I therefore had a further meeting with EGGER where I discussed my course and explained that although I was keen to join the Company, I would be completing my degree. The Plant Director Technical/Production agreed that I should complete my studies and offered me a position with EGGER for when I was finished. This opportunity and support gave me a very positive feeling about the organisation and I joined EGGER in September 2009.

My first position was as a Trainee Technical Programmer, where I assisted the Engineering Manager with various small and large scale projects across the sites, enabling me to work with and learn from a large variety of people.

Before long I was given my own projects, one of which formed part of a large investment by the Company including the Warehouse Conveyer System for Barony boards. I was then asked by the Plant Director Technical/Production to help support him with projects and this is the role I am currently in.

What are your main responsibilities within your current position?

Within my role I have the opportunity to be involved in a variety of engineering projects across all our UK sites. One specific project was managing the large scale investment and installation of the new Impregnation line at Hexham.

My role also includes the responsibilities of collating the production figures for EGGER Hexham and cascading these throughout the business to relevant managers and departments. I am also the Radiation Protection Supervisor on site, therefore it is my duty to prepare monthly safety reviews and conduct risk assessments as required.

What skills / competencies do you see as most important for your role?

As my role is made up of predominately project work, organisational and time management skills are essential, as they help to ensure that I manage the projects efficiently alongside meeting the day to day requirements of my role.

You also have to be able to adapt quickly to change. I am constantly being assigned new projects to run and review, therefore I must be able to manage and adapt to this in a timely and efficient manner.

Working on projects, I interact with a number of different departments and people, both on and off site, therefore strong interpersonal skills are required. I spend a lot of the time dealing with passionate people, which means I need to be able to talk through issues and come up with solutions and compromises. For this reason it is important to have the ability to think logically and analytically to reach solutions within project management.

What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy any aspects of my role which relate to engineering as that is my real passion and at EGGER I am fortunate enough to be involved in a wide variety of engineering projects.

I also enjoy the project work itself, as it allows me to work within different teams and meet new people as well as spot problems and work through to find the solutions. This all adds variety to my work, making every day different with new and exciting challenges.

What are the key challenges in your role?

The key challenge within my role is meeting tight deadlines and ensuring everyone involved is happy and aware of the outcomes. Ensuring that I get the balance right between what different people involved want and recognising when compromises need to be made can be very challenging, especially depending on the size of the project: this is when my interpersonal skills are essential.

Time management and getting the right balance with the workload, can also sometimes prove difficult. The project management component means that I am often working approximately 6 months ahead of time, making sure that labour and funds are in place to help the projects run smoothly. This requires me to have a very clear plan and overview of the project to avoid issues further down the line.

Why did you choose EGGER as an employer?

Although I did not live in Hexham, I had heard that EGGER was a very large, well established manufacturer within the local area which was why I sent them my CV in the first place.

On my first visit, I was very impressed with the state of the art equipment being used throughout the Company and not just within production process. I got the sense that EGGER were working towards something and continually investing to stay ahead of their competitors. I could tell that they were a good, fair and secure employer from the discussions that I had with current employees, and one which was investing in the future of the Company and driving forward.

The Hexham site itself was also the tidiest and most efficient plant I had visited and this gave me a very positive feeling about the Company.

What do you think makes EGGER a good employer?

One reason that I think EGGER is a good employer is the security you have from being part of a large international company, with the knowledge that you can build a long career with this Company.

As we are family owned, we have no public shareholders, which means that you can see the money being reinvested into the Company, not just within the production process but also the training facilities, etc.

There is also a very caring culture at EGGER and I believe this filters down from Michael and Fritz Egger and their passion for the Company and what it is trying to achieve. You get the feeling that each and every employee wants to drive the company forward and that makes it a great place to work.

How have EGGER helped your personal development? What skills do you have now that you did not before?

During my time at EGGER I have become much more confident both personally and professionally, I definitely could not have performed aspects of the role I am doing now at the beginning of my career due to my confidence levels. I have had to learn quickly through being put in unfamiliar situations and having to think on my feet.

My interpersonal skills have also developed, through getting to work not only with people of different characters, but also with the different cultures within the Group.

I was also fortunate enough to be chosen for our Group wide management training programme, Startklar. This opportunity allowed me to travel to other sites within the Group and work with a range of different people on projects. I was able to learn more about people’s roles throughout the Company, gaining insight from their experiences, and I was able to also share some best practice from the UK.

Working in such a large organisation has also increased my engineering/commercial awareness, through my project work and working with experienced managers and engineers.

How would you describe your experience at EGGER?

I would describe my time at EGGER as challenging but exciting. I have found that if you are willing to put in the work and effort, that there are lots of opportunities to develop and progress within the organisation.

What are your aspirations for the future?

With relation to the future I am open minded, my role at the moment is very busy and I am happy with where I am. I would like to continue in a role focused on engineering and I believe EGGER is the best place for that.