The Apprentice launched this week – and while TVs apprentices compete against each other, our apprentices spent ‘Collaboration Thursday’ in National Customer Service Week visiting our head office in Newport. They took the opportunity to meet the back office colleagues that they’ll be working with very closely with over the next few years to keep the gas flowing and deliver outstanding service to the 7.5m people we serve. 

Here we speak to a few of them about what they took from the day…

Daniel Clarke who is based out of Gloucester sat with Tim Wright and the Below 7bar team in Asset Management & HSE.

Daniel: “It was really interesting to see the impact of the practical engineering I’ll be doing on a day to day basis analysed. I know there’s a long way to go but it really helped me to understand a bit better how the network works and how it is operated – and how it’s essential Operations and Asset work closely to keep the gas flowing.”

Katie Jelbert from Truro is based out of Redruth. She spoke to Connections Manager Nigel Winnan and his team.

Katie: “It was really good to see the end to end process of getting a gas connection and where we fit in. The effort the team in the office put in and the pride they take in what they do really puts things into perspective. This visit was really helpful and I hope we can build on it in the future.”

John McGowan is based in Plymouth and spent the day with Learning & Development Manager Theresa Williams and her team.

John: “Obviously I’ve experienced training and I will do so throughout the years of my apprenticeship but it was very interesting to see the way we make sure all our colleagues have all the skills they need with structured and personalised training plans – and why it is important. I’m really looking forward to continuing my training.”

Adam Westlake from Bristol and Reece Dyke from Bath worked alongside Phil Collins, Complaints Manager, and Vicky Munn, Customer Service Team Leader.

Adam: “It was good to see the customer service team at work and how they put into action our priority to ‘put customers first.’ I was surprised by the diverse range of calls they have to deal with and the knowledge of our company and operations that the team have.”

Reece: “I was really impressed by the way we deal with complaints. I knew it was something we do but it was really eye opening to hear the Morning Teleconference and the way we go about resolving complaints.”

Adam: “Watching and listening to the complaints process was interesting, and the speed of our responses was really impressive, as was the importance we place on engaging with customers who contact us on social media.”

Jack Thorne who works out of Bridgwater spent the day with Management Accountant Mark Woolway, Head of Audit Mark Owen, Neil Henson, Director of Finance and the rest of the Finance team

Jack: “I know it sounds a bit silly but the amount of money involved in keeping the gas flowing and our company going was a shock and it really brought home the size of the company. And of course it’s our customer’s money we’re spending. I’ll think about the word ‘budget’ in a different way in the future!”

Toby Jennings from Swindon and Richard Huxtable from Swansea spent the day with the Scheduling Team.

Richard: “As an apprentice it’s easy sometimes to focus on the last bit of the job: putting the pipe in the ground. So it was interesting and really valuable to see how our work is scheduled – and the pride the team take in their work too.”

Toby: “I was really struck by the way our schedulers speak to our customers – and it’s something that’s really important. I definitely picked up some tips that I’ll be using to deal with customers in the future!”

And was there anything about their visit that surprised them?

Katie: “I’d heard a lot about Celtic Springs and imagined an office – but certainly not one this big! But the best thing was how approachable everyone is, no matter their job. The open plan design of the building really helps create the feeling that we’re all one team working toward the same goal.”

The eight apprentices are part of our intake of 24 in 2016. They’re carrying out all their training at our state of the art training academies in Treforest and Bridgwater, as well as local colleges.

We recruited the apprentices from right across our operating area to deliver on our commitment to invest in young people so we have the skills, confidence and innovative thinking to help drive our business long into the future.