Jess Thompson, Higher Apprentice, Business Development Executive, Bri-Stor Systems
Jess wanted to be the first person in her family to achieve a degree but wasn’t sure of the best route. Gaining strong GCSE results, particularly in maths and engineering, Jess decided to continue with her higher education at The JCB Academy, she tells us more about this decision: “I always wanted to complete a degree that would serve me well for my entire career but equally, I also wanted to choose a route that would get me into industry at the same time. I knew that choosing a two-year course at The JCB Academy along with additional AS level qualifications would keep my options open.
With successful completion of her two-year course at The JCB Academy, Jess joined Bri-Stor Systems as a Higher Apprentice. This opportunity has catapulted Jess’ career, as she explains: “I’ve been with Bri-Stor Systems for five years and I graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Derby University in June 2020. At the same time as studying for my degree I was given a fantastic opportunity to move around the business and experience different departments and functions. This was absolutely invaluable and really opened my eyes to how you apply theory-based classroom skills to the real working environment.”
Rotating through the various functions at Bri-Stor Systems while studying part-time gave Jess a fantastic opportunity to consider her future: “Year one and two of the Apprenticeship was a whirlwind, I absolutely loved the ever-changing environment I was working in. By year three, where I spent six months in an engineering role and six months in new product development, I was really motivated by the sales and business development route. Arguably you could think, why spend all that time studying engineering, but the grounding in the fundamentals of the business operations, gives me absolute confidence to talk to customers about complex design and production processes.”
Jess’ career has come a long way since she started at Bri-Stor Systems in 2016 and her talent hasn’t gone unnoticed. Her hard work at university paid off by securing the highly regarded IMechE Best Project Award and she continues to be a mentor at The JCB Academy, supporting the growth and development of future engineers. Having accomplished so much in her short career, she concludes by sharing these thoughts: “I’m passionate about nurturing young people considering a career in engineering – there are so many opportunities whether you’re motivated by hands-on skills such as electrics or welding, or whether sales and business development sounds exciting. Keeping my skill set as broad as possible at the outset of my higher education was absolutely the right thing to do, and I would advocate this approach for other emerging engineers.”
Would you recommend the Bri-Stor Systems’ Apprenticeship Scheme? “Without a doubt. I’ve been given a fantastic opportunity to try different and varied areas within the business, and by going through that process, it’s enabled me to land on my role today, which I love. It’s perfectly suited to my skills and personality.”