Apprentice Case Study

Cheryl Sanders Finning's First Qualified Female Construction Apprentice

Finning UK and Ireland qualified apprentice, Cheryl Sanders, talks about her experience of the Finning apprenticeship scheme and the future it has opened up for her in the exciting world of Caterpillar equipment service support.

"From a young age I have always had a keen interest in the way in which mechanical equipment works and have always ‘tinkered’ with whatever I could get my hands on, from my bike to my dad’s car. I have always enjoyed the satisfaction of repairing something broken and getting my hands dirty while doing so!"

"I knew from the start that a practical career was the way forward for me and so began looking into available apprenticeship schemes. At around the age of 15 I came across a path that really caught my attention, Construction Plant Engineering, so applied for a four year apprenticeship at Finning UK. I was successful and completed my apprenticeship working on heavy plant machinery both on site and within a workshop. I loved every minute of my apprenticeship and knew straight away that I had made the right choice."

"After completing my apprenticeship, I furthered my education by completing a BTEC National Award in electrical engineering. I have also recently completed a three year study for a Foundation Degree in Dealership Management."

"I am now five years out of my apprenticeship in Construction Plant Engineering and in that time have progressed well through the business."

"I spent the three years following the completion of my apprenticeship in the service workshop at Finning’s head office site in Cannock. In this time I performed the role of a rebuild/repair engineer repairing and maintaining all types of Caterpillar construction equipment. I was involved in many different tasks within the team including full machine overhauls and component rebuilds. I also gained experience working on customer sites alone and as part of a team."

"Although the work was very physically and mentally demanding, it was also very rewarding. Working within this environment can be very dangerous and so strong relationships are formed between you and your colleagues. This makes the environment an enjoyable place to work in and the banter’s great!"

"I then progressed into the workshop controller role within Cannock. This was a demanding and challenging role that required me to adapt new skills and abilities. The role was predominantly for me to manage the work flow in and out of the workshop and to liaise closely with the supervisor and team leaders to control current work and schedule future work. I also managed costs, invoicing and had a strong involvement in business expenses."

"In this role I had to establish and acknowledge the customer needs and so have had opportunities to visit customer sites and meet the end user face to face. I have also had opportunities to work with other areas of the business and so have been able to build strong relationships with many colleagues throughout the business. I have been heavily involved in workshop projects and so have acquired many new skills in this area including planning and time management. I had two direct reports within this role and so have acquired people management skills along the way."

"In the two years I spent as a workshop controller, I experienced a massive learning curve and have applied the skills learnt to both my working and personal life. The role has helped to give me a better understanding of the challenges faced throughout the business and how the work that I do contributes to the ‘bigger picture’."

"I have recently moved into a new role within the business. I now have the role of Process Engineer. This role will allow me to apply both my engineering knowledge and skills learnt in my previous role to implement standard system installations throughout the business. In short, I will create manuals that our engineers and contractors will follow when installing various systems onto Caterpillar machines. This will ensure that all systems are installed to the same standard."

"I am very excited about the challenges that I will face in my new role and believe that the results will be of a huge benefit to the business and our engineers. I enjoy working within the workshop teams but also enjoy working within the other areas of the business, such as the project team, and so this provides a great working environment for me. I have a particular passion for the machines themselves and this role allows me the opportunity to work closely with them again. As I now predominantly work with new equipment, I will also have the opportunity to get in touch with the latest technology as soon as it’s available."

"I’m currently happy within my new position; however, in the future I hope to move on to new roles within the product support area and to continue learning and gaining experience within my subject area."

"My advice would be; if you’ve got a keen interest and are determined and prepared to work hard then don’t be put off! You can be successful in engineering no matter what your gender!"

Cheryl Sanders - Finning Apprentice