Star apprentice makes mark at H+H

We spoke to Level 6 Engineering Apprentice, Alex Whinfrey-Gibson, about his apprenticeship at H+H Pollington and why he feels the role is ideal for him.

Undertaking a degree-apprenticeship with the University of Sheffield, 20-year-old Alex began working at H+H in September 2022. Now two years into his university course, Alex worked for a different manufacturer in his first year. Largely office based, that role did not offer him the opportunity to gain the knowledge and practical skills he needs to make him a well-rounded engineer - a goal he has been aiming for since he started learning science at secondary school.

“The blend of technical and onsite experience I get at H+H is rare from my experience,” said Alex. He explained: “Of the people on my course, almost no one has the same opportunities that I do. I have only worked at H+H for a few months but I feel like I have gained a lot of experience already.”

Alex’s role is dynamic, responding to issues that arise at our Pollington site. One of his key responsibilities is producing and presenting KPIs and feeding this information back to the site management team. This keeps manufacturing processes running smoothly and helps to identify any issues at the factory and determine solutions.

Since joining H+H, Alex has led his own projects and become an asset to the team at Pollington. Offering niche insights about sealing mechanisms, he was able to help engineer a solution that brought greater continuity to factory equipment, saving H+H time and money. And he is looking to do more of that. 

Driven by the opportunity to manage projects so early on in his career, Alex said: “One of the best things about my job is the feeling of contributing to the H+H team. Seeing my ideas realised is really motivating.”

Having learned about aircrete at university, Alex was attracted to working at H+H for its sustainable products and practices. He remarked: “As a young engineer interested in the environment, I was keen to work for a company that manufactures products that help build energy efficient buildings.

“H+H’s aircrete recipe reuses waste from old coal fired power stations, and during the manufacturing process, H+H recycles old block trimmings to make its manufacturing as materially efficient as possible. Also, manufacturing plants are really energy intensive, so it’s great H+H are using a wind turbine to generate some of its own power at Pollington.”

Looking to the future, Alex sees himself continuing a career in engineering: “In 10 years, I would like to have achieved internationally recognised chartered status within engineering and I see myself being in a managerial role.

“If you’d have asked me that a year ago, I don’t think I would have said that. But that’s what working at H+H has done – it’s unlocked my management potential.”

Working full days on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, along with completing over 20 hours of university work each week, Alex has to work hard, but he’s not complaining.

 “At first, I wondered what I had got myself into, but I’m getting good grades and performing well at work. Early in my career I’m able to prove to myself that I can do the hours, the higher-level work and create valuable output for the business. This is setting me up well for the future and, most importantly, I wouldn’t be doing it all if I didn’t enjoy it!”