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Challenges, opportunities, diversity, training and fun are just some of the things he attributes to the last three decades of flying the AKW flag. But what else makes Jason such a keen and loyal member of the team? We spoke to him to congratulate him on his long service and find out more.
So Jason, 30 years at AKW! How do you feel?
That’s almost longer than you’ve been a City fan isn’t it?
Not quite. I think my uncle took me to my first game when I was about 11! Youngest of six lads, even the parents were United fans. I went right against the grain!
What’s made you stay so long?
I’d say the opportunities. There’s never been a dull moment from the day I started right up until this morning. There’s always something to keep you interested. The fact the company has evolved so much tells you how much opportunity and challenge there’s been. I feel very proud to have been a massive part of each step of that change.
Do you like the unpredictability of the environment?
I don’t think anybody likes mundane routines. The warehouse, for example, is constantly evolving as legislation and consumer needs change. That element of the job, as well as problematic areas dealing with HR and H&S issues, is great. I enjoy the challenge.
When you were younger, what did you think you’d do as a job?
Be a rapper or famous DJ! I don’t remember having a dream job, I just knew I wanted to do something manual… I didn’t want to sit in an office with a tie on!
How did you come to join AKW?
I was put on a placement with a Youth Training Scheme back in 1987, where I came to AKW one day a week and did odd jobs, trying to get some work experience using the training they provided. There were some interesting times and a lot of hard work as well as a lot of fun!
What does your son think you do all day?
He believes I’m the boss of a big shiny warehouse! He’s been down to look at the site and he’s always been a big lover of our trucks, he waves at the truck drivers when he sees them and tells me about it every night.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Maybe to push my training sooner so I had a little more confidence to manage at an earlier age. But I would just say ‘stick with it’. If you’re happy in yourself and financially stable, realistically that’s what it’s all about.
Would you say the industry itself has changed since your earlier days?
Massively. As a company we’ve changed too. We used to term ourselves as ‘Rough Freight Limited’; if the customer had the right money, we would do it, whatever it was. H&S wasn’t as big a part of my role as it is now – 30 years ago we didn’t have lights in the warehouse and there were potholes you could lose a truck tyre in!
What do you think about being part of a team?
It’s better in my position to be part of a team and not differentiate myself in any way shape or form. Being part of a team is massively important, and one of the things I’ve learned in my 30 years is the best way and easiest way is to lead from the front and push from behind.
How does your current role keep you motivated?
Getting more out of a person and helping them realise that they can do it. I love to create a void for them to grow into after you plant the seed. Mentoring is massive and most don’t realise how it can affect a person’s life for the better.
What do you think personal success looks like?
I’m just happy that I’ve gone further than some expected me to. I’m happy that starting out on a Youth Training Scheme (you couldn’t really get much lower and a lot of the country was forced into it) I’ve ended up where I am today.
How has AKW helped you in your career development?
The training and support I’ve been given has helped me get to places I never thought I would. From FLT and Class 1 HGV, H&S, HR and accounting, to management skills, team leading, a director’s course and becoming a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor. On top of that, I’ve had superiors who’ve pushed me into situations and projects to gain experience.
With an eye-opening 30 years’ experience, what tips would you give a prospective employee?
Hard work, teamwork and honesty will get you everywhere within AKW. I think anyone who’s willing to grasp opportunity and work hard would go far. That’s all you need to do. Be positive, helpful, respectful, careful, get involved and work hard.
What advice can you offer other AKW employees about achieving long service?
Hard work and dedication in anything you do, work, play and love. It’s a cliché but tell me it’s not spot on and I’ll argue with you all day! Everything is a two-way street and picking a company that respects you and makes you feel your worth is the most important decision.
Is AKW a fun place to be?
Yes – rightly or wrongly, I don’t know! It’s a great team. It’s quite a relaxed manner and as long as you do what you’re supposed to and follow procedures, no one is on top of you. There’s a time and place for fun but we get the job done and encourage that! What kind of place would it be in a 24-hour business if we can’t have a bit of fun?
Is there anything that would make you leave?
As sad as it sounds, ill health or a lot of money. You don’t get rid of me that easily!
Have you any hidden talents or things you’ve managed to keep secret for 30 years?
Dj’ing was a talent back in the day! DJJ! A group of close friends and I made records and we actually got them pressed and printed and into the Indie charts! The start of my career at AKW was probably what funded this to be honest. We also attend church each weekend as practising Catholics, maybe that will surprise some?
Lastly, what three words would you use to describe your time at AKW?
Challenging, fun and hard work!
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