Nathan Hunt was the first person to start a career journey on Wernick’s newly launched ‘Graduate Training Programme’. The programme gives candidates the opportunity to experience working across a variety of roles within the modular and portable building industry.
The programme is now in its 6th year. We interviewed Nathan previously to find out about the trainee process.
Now a General Manager at Wernick Hire’s largest depot in Wickford, Nathan reflects on his journey so far and reveals what it takes to succeed on the programme.
Tell us about how you started at Wernick…
On my first day at Wernick, I was given keys to a car and a cake as it was somebody’s birthday, which I thought was a great way to start your first day. After my tour of the depot and induction, I walked into the canteen at the Head Office and found Simon (Doran – Chief Executive) and David (Wernick – Executive Chairman) playing pool. I just thought “I don’t know what’s happening, but I like it!” Simon actually did my induction and took time to make me feel welcome.
What were you doing before-hand?
Before I started at Wernick, I was an Assistant Site Manager for an office refurb company. So while I wasn’t strictly speaking a graduate, I was still looking out for a new opportunity that offered me a career rather than a job.
At the refurb company I had experience of hiring units so I think my background as a customer was a great starting point – I could better understand their point of view and why they ask certain questions. During my training with Wernick Construction I found myself in the ‘customer’s’ shoes again as I was hiring cabins from Wernick Hire for Wernick Building’s projects. Having this experience has helped me to see my role from another perspective.
What were you looking to gain from the programme?
I wouldn’t say I was looking to work my way to the top. It was, and is, more important for me to learn and grow within an industry.
Who helped you through the programme?
I’ve had a vast collection of mentors since I started! Michael Thistlethwaite (Managing Director) oversaw my programme and we had a catch up every three months. I’ve been shown the ropes by people with decades of experience in the industry and so many people in depots, on site and in factories have been patient with me and answered all my questions.
I spent six months with the Buildings division early on in the programme, working on modular buildings with the team in the factory. I enjoyed the camaraderie and we played golf together. And then they revealed that they thought I was an undercover boss! I started off wearing a white helmet (white helmets are given to visitors) and they must have thought it was like the TV programme where the boss goes undercover!
I now manage one of the depots that I trained in and it’s not weird! They’ve all been really supportive about it and I couldn’t ask for a better team.
What attributes do you need to be a graduate trainee?
A willingness to learn is the main one. That and keeping an open mind, being approachable, having get-up-and-go and wanting to progress. With the programme and what follows after the programme, you get out what you put in. The opportunities are available if you have the drive to go out and get them.
Were there any surprises on the programme?
My programme was set out at the start and I was kept informed through regular meetings. The company were always honest about working away and the travel involved. There were some tough times and some stressful times but it was all worth it. I’ve been rewarded with certain levels on the ladder.
Nathan’s journey in brief:
- 12 months with the Wickford Hire depot – Here, I learnt from the Hire desk team and Colin Ellis the manager at the time. It was great to be assisting in a range of projects both at the depot and on site.
- 6 months with Wernick Buildings – This included six weeks in the factory itself. This was hands on and I was involved in building a school and an air cadet centre. I then met with the Senior Contracts Manager on site to see the install and I then spent time with the estimating and scheduling departments.
- 6 months in Wernick Construction – This included four months on site working on a school in North London. Then I worked in the back office, helping to organise labour for the site, managing subs, paperwork and problem solving.
- 18 Months at Banbury depot – Here I took the role of Assistant Manager, training with the Manager as he worked up to retirement. The Manager and the two ladies working there had decades of experience between them, and they pushed and supported me in the role. After the Manager left, I took over the position.
- Finally, back to the Wickford Hire depot where I am now General Manager.
Discover more about Wernick’s graduate careers > here.