George became interested in the waste industry while studying at university. He has now completed his graduate scheme with FCC Environment and is continuing to gain further experience in the Operations team. Find out what George enjoys most about his role and how his graduate scheme has helped him further his career.
What do you do and where do you do it?
I currently work within the FCC Environment Operations team at Allington EFW, Kent. Having finished the FCC graduate scheme I was offered an extension to my time at Allington to further increase my experience and improve my knowledge of Energy From Waste Facilities before hopefully securing a full time position. At Allington EFW we accept up to 570,000 tonnes of general waste per year. Here waste is shredded, metals removed and then burnt in one of our three furnaces. As well as a method of waste disposal, we also generate electricity from the process.
I am currently spending time in our permit office. Here Enhanced Technicians assess what precautions need to be taken in order to carry out a job without causing harm to people, the plant, or the environment. I will spend 6 months in this department increasing my knowledge of permitry, the safety rules, what isolations are involved with different parts of the plant, and gain an improved understanding of the Enhanced Technicians role.
"I work in a fast moving, exciting industry, with great career prospects."
Which parts of the job do you enjoy most and find most rewarding?
I enjoy the variety involved in my job, not just in the fact that my training has allowed me to move between roles and different shifts, but in the fact that each day can be very different from the next. In particular, I enjoy the periods where we have one of the lines off for planned maintenance (an outage) during these periods I have been able to see inside parts of the plant that otherwise you wouldn’t normally see and understand how they work/what’s involved in that part of the process.
I also enjoy how active it can be; working in a plant with 9 floors and plenty of physical jobs helps to keep me feeling fit and healthy.
What does an average day consist of?
Not having a specific role as of yet, my average day (or night shift) completely depends on who I am shadowing and how the plant is performing/operating. I could be doing anything from looking at risk assessments for contractors, to going out on plant trying to identify why we have certain issues or even pulling balls of wire out of our sand system below the furnace.
What path did you use to get to the position you hold today?
In 2015 I started on the FCC Environment Graduate Management Trainee Scheme, my Scheme was broken up into 2 placements; Recycling Operations, and Energy From Waste. My first placement in Recycling was based in East Anglia primarily at our Refuse Derived Fuel Transfer Station in Norwich. Over nine months here I gained an understanding of how a waste management facility is run and managed, whilst taking on a number of supervisory roles.
Following this I moved across to Energy From Waste and started at Allington waste management facility. For my first six months I was with the Operations Team moving between each of the roles gaining an understanding of what is required from the operations team and how they are involved in running the plant. I then moved to the Performance Team for the final three months of my Scheme, here I reported on how the plant was performing; producing daily and monthly reports on losses in waste burnt and steam produced. I was also involved in presenting reports on the root causes of more major periods of downtime and discussing what we were going to do to prevent re-occurrence.
At the end of my Graduate scheme I was offered a position with the Operations Team at Allington in order to provide me with more experience. This should provide me with the skills to step into a role once available.
What did you do before?
I was at university in Reading where I studied Human and Physical Geography. I then spent 6 months in Africa and Asia before working in manufacturing whilst applying for graduate schemes.
What attracted you to join the energy and utilities sector?
I first gained an interest in the energy sector whilst at university where I focused on ‘fracking’ for a number of modules and ended up writing my dissertation on the topic. I was attracted to the Energy From Waste sector as the concept of turning what most people believe is useless (general rubbish) into a valuable resource, was something that excited me.
"I was attracted to the Energy From Waste sector while at university as the concept of turning what most people believe is useless (general rubbish) into a valuable resource, was something that excited me."
What do you think of the career prospects? Have you had much training and development?
I have had a great deal of opportunities to further develop myself whilst with FCC. Internal training courses have allowed me to learn about areas including: Risk Assessments, Health & Safety and Incident Controlling. Having come through the Graduate Scheme I have had to carry out a number of presentations to senior management which has improved my presentation creating and presenting as well as confidence.
Would you recommend your job to a friend and why?
I would definitely recommend both the FCC Graduate Scheme and a job in this industry to a friend. It is a fast moving, exciting industry, with great career prospects.