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Case Studies

Employer Testimonials -Steve Hayden

Steve Hayden began his working life as a telecoms apprentice. Now, he’s Managing Director of Green Telecoms, a carbon-positive telecoms company.

 

Here apprentice Arthur Scott, a BT apprentice quizzes Steve on his career progression, life, the World and – oh yes – telecoms.

Q: Steve, when did you first became interested in technology?

A: I was always interested in electrics and electronics. When I was at school I rewired my parents’ house and was always messing with light bulbs and circuits. I didn’t have any career ambitions at school that I can remember.

Q: What was it about becoming an apprentice that appealed to you?

A: I went with the flow really. Most of the lads in my class at school left to do apprenticeships. University wasn’t an option and the idea of staying at school for sixth form didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to get out to work as soon as possible.

Q: And why telecoms?

A: I had a couple of apprenticeship offers when I left school. However, telecoms seemed as if it would be the most fun. I liked the idea of working out and about, as opposed to being in an office and doing something different each day.

Q: So you spent a three year apprenticeship with BT, gaining your qualifications. What did it teach you about the world of work?

A: The BT apprenticeship was first class and the three years were fun as well as challenging. We were taught all aspects of telecoms from inside the telephone exchanges, the wiring in the streets and finally the wiring in customers’ premises.

Q: You mention ‘fun’ and ‘challenging’. Can you elaborate?

A: I enjoyed being out on site in customer premises and seeing different businesses operate. The classroom work was challenging but necessary.

Q: What did you do straight after your graduation?

A: I worked for BT for another five years, installing small telephone systems in customer premises. I was also seconded to the city for a year when the stock exchange was deregulated, and went from bank to bank installing private circuits. I was a walking engineer then, so got to know the city very well.

Q: You now run your own business, Green Telecom. It’s a big move from secure employment to going out on your own. What inspired you to do it?

A: I knew I could do better in life working for myself and met someone looking for a system installer, so I resigned from BT on a Monday and started as a self-employed phone system installer the very next day. At that stage I did not know that I would ever ‘employ’ anyone or run a company, but when I got busy I didn’t like turning work down so employed another engineer and went on from there.

Q: And the pros and cons of being your own boss?

A: The good parts are the freedom and not having to ask someone to take a day off! The bad parts were more in the early days of having to put in the hours and the stress and worry of getting the business off the ground.

Q: Did employing staff – and ensuring that the business succeeds so they keep their jobs – create a sense of pressure? Responsibility?

A: I’m lucky to have a great team working here. Some have been here for 15/ 20 years. It’s important to me that everyone is happy coming to work, and now keeping their jobs is in their hands as opposed to just mine.

Q: How do you balance the demands of running your own business with your personal life?

A: In the early days this was a struggle and the business won. It had to or we wouldn’t be here today. These days the balance is a lot better and I enjoy family life and work equally.

Q: You’ve recently taken on an ITP Apprentice – why?

A: We have had trainees before, but never had an opportunity to offer anyone an official apprentice scheme where they would have college and certificates as well as practical training. Also there’s a good feeling of giving someone an opportunity for a worthwhile career in Telecoms. There are simply not enough opportunities for school leavers these days. Everyone who is willing to work should have a chance.

Q: What do you think apprentices can offer smaller businesses?

A: An apprentice who is willing to learn should potentially have a long term fulfilling career and will be an asset to a small business. An apprentice will have fresh ideas to bring to the table and can be trained to fit in with the company.

Q: What qualities are you looking for in an apprentice?

A: Willingness to learn is key. Being a good early riser and able to plan and get to sites on time is also very important. Politeness will lead to good customer service and is important too.

Q: As an ex-apprentice yourself, would you say it’s a good way to get into telecoms?

A: Yes. It’s an excellent way to start. The only pity is that so many telecoms companies are not offering places yet, but hopefully, with the help of ITP this will change.

Q: Telecoms is now an essential part of everybody’s life – when you first entered the industry, did you foresee how important it was going to become?

A: The technology changes over the last 30 years have been amazing. I remember my first mobile phone was huge and cost me £1700.00. I had to buy it on a three year lease and you had to stop the car if it rang and stay still or the call would drop out. There was no Internet and no email when we started out and we didn’t have a computer in the office. Phone lines have also changed so much over time.