Alex Dickens, the first graduate employee of TRB, discusses how his background in chemical engineering has set him up for his new role as Technical Sales Manager Trainee, and what led him to TRB.
After graduating with a Master’s in chemical engineering from the University of Birmingham, I spent some time travelling and, on my return, started an exciting new Technical Sales Manager Trainee role at TRB in March of 2019. TRB was looking for someone with a technical background and, luckily for me, my experiences from university projects and the skills I had developed fitted the profile of what they were after. At the same time, the company’s ecological ethos and aspirations really matched what I was hoping for as I start my career.
Chemical engineering gave me a real grounding in how to look at production processes, from raw materials all the way through development, manufacture and packaging to the store shelf, and covering a huge range of industries, including renewable energy, food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. My main research project at university was in confectionery, studying the properties of chocolate, fondants and caramels, and exploring how the depositing process could be made more efficient for these ingredients.
Not surprisingly, apart from the brief foray into chocolate, much of my course was based on oil-derived products and the development of sustainable alternatives, so I crucially gained a real appreciation for improving environmental practices. I particularly enjoyed studying the influence of transport and different types of fuel, including renewable sources, on manufacturing practice. This has real resonance with my role in the industrial sector at TRB, which includes the electric and hybrid car market. There is a global initiative to make production processes greener and more environmentally friendly, and this technology is at the forefront of that in the vehicle industry.
This is a really interesting area for me and I can’t wait to get stuck into my role at TRB, however, my first steps are to get to know the company, and how it fits into the various industries. TRB is renowned as a knowledgeable and supportive company in its sector, and it is extremely important that I fully understand the technology and processes before I can advise and discuss with our customers how we can best suit their needs. I am currently on a nine-month training programme developed especially for me, moving around all of the different departments, from marketing to engineering, to really immerse myself in everything TRB. It’s a really exciting time; I’m looking forward to meeting clients and following the way the market is changing, so that we can move towards more lightweight and environmentally friendly products for all the industries we serve.