From Apprentice to Project Engineer: Jennifer Willison

February 5, 2021
Jennifer Willison (or Jenni as many of you may know her) has been with D/Gauge since 2016 and have been key to expanding our engineering team, delivering high-quality consultancy and service to our customers and bringing our median employee age down. From apprentice to project engineer, here is Jenni’s own account of her mentoring experience at D/Gauge. 

I left 6th form after studying Photography, Geography and Product Design. At that time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I knew I enjoyed Product Design, which, whilst a tenuous link in some ways, led me to explore engineering opportunities. 

I was offered an apprenticeship with D/Gauge in September 2016 and my formal engineering training began almost immediately. I took a Foundation Degree in Integrated Engineering (Mechanical), NVQ and a PEO which I completed over 3 years. Having worked incredibly hard, I am so proud to say that I have now completed my formal educational journey with a 2:1 degree in Mechanical Engineering. I sadly haven’t been able to celebrate my achievement yet but my formal Graduation Ceremony is something to look forward to in 2021. 

I came into the business with little knowledge and no experience of engineering but, from the beginning, I was invited to key meetings to gain project knowledge and meet clients, as well as being empowered to manage major business projects. The development of our passenger stepping application (D/Gauge Flow) was one of the first projects that I managed and it was a huge undertaking but incredibly rewarding. These were amazing opportunities for me and I couldn’t have done it without the support and belief of the team. 

The best advice that my colleagues have given me to date is: ‘Take all the opportunities you can’. When I was asked to lead the T1196 research project it was well outside my comfort zone. I was terrified but, my colleagues mentored and supported me throughout and I DID IT and now there is a research paper with my name on it. I could have easily said no but I didn’t. I took the opportunity to develop myself and I’m so thrilled with what has been achieved. 

When I left school, I knew I didn’t want to get a ‘normal’ job. I chose an apprenticeship because I would be trained to do something and not just chucked in the deep end and left to drown. Don’t get me wrong, I have been thrown in the deep end a few times during my time at D/Gauge but have always known that I can go to any member of the team for advice, advice that I know will help me to swim with confidence. 

The team at D/Gauge are brilliant, they have mentored me, guided me and provided me with the opportunities to be at the helm of industry-leading projects right from the start of my career. I couldn’t have asked for a better company to begin my career journey with.”

We look forward to seeing more of Jenni’s successes in the rail industry and her continued career progression.

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