Blog23 February 2023

What’s it like to be an engineer at Andrews Sykes? We asked Jason Watson…

Marketing Assistant Jahdia Spencer gets a taste of life as an engineer!

In light of it being National Engineers Week, it feels appropriate to highlight one of our engineers and delve into precisely what the job itself entails. That means I’m back with another Day in the Life segment, and this month I shadowed one of our talented Senior Service Engineers – Jason Watson.

As I’m generally office-based, I was excited to observe how the backbone of our business operates, and learn more about how the practical side of things work. As soon as I saw Jason arriving at the Charlton depot car park, I set about capturing potential social media content and documenting our day by taking notes on how a typical morning might unfold.

Jason’s day begins with a workout at the gym, which he considers ideal preparation for the physical exertion that goes hand in hand with the day job. Porridge and coffee follow, and are consumed while responding to emails relating to previous jobs. Even from this initial encounter, I quickly form the impression that his role is very reactive and that a call-out could be imminent. The only certainty is uncertainty, perhaps!

I start with the obvious: “Jason… what exactly is your role?”

Jason summarised: “My official job title is a Senior Service Engineer, and my role is to respond to any emergency HVAC jobs when called upon. I also am a specialist engineer for chillers and boilers. This mainly includes going to ad hoc jobs in London or the South, although with that said, it hasn’t been unheard of for me to go further afield into Europe to provide assistance at short notice.”

Before I could utter my second question, Jason’s manager came into the depot with a paper detailing our first job – a leak in a data centre in North London. And just like that, within a few minutes of our first interaction, we were off to install a PAC 22 air conditioning unit.

During our hour-and-a-bit journey, I probed: “What made you choose to become an engineer?”

Jason explained that he was drawn to fixing things and solving problems as a child. Sixteen years ago, he saw a job advertisement for a summer temporary position at Andrews Sykes, and from that experience, he knew that both the role and the company fitted the bill!

Jason certainly exudes a level of confidence when going about his work, and his knowledge was plain for all to see when he correctly predicted the reasons behind the customer’s issue. Communicating largely in layman’s terms, Jason explained that pipework was coming loose and that a sense of urgency was important as data centres and water are not the best combination.

As we arrived on site, it seemed like second nature as Jason worked quickly on the faulty unit plus the other four present. Jason’s diligence was further highlighted when he took the time to assert that all heat exchangers were also functioning properly, meaning all equipment had been thoroughly checked. The process was completed once Jason and the site manager had signed the relevant paperwork, signifying a unanimous acceptance that the problem was rectified.

Our return to the van coincided with another instruction from the operations team back at the depot. Despite the bitter weather, I was surprised to learn that our next mission also involved air conditioning – and we made our way to the office in central London.

After the briefest of insights into the life on an engineer, I enquired: “What are the challenges you face in a day-to-day role?”

As I had suspected, Jason explained that his broad skillset – although extremely fulfilling – fuelled an inevitability that many of the more demanding projects landed at his doorstep. He said: “Because I am a specialist, there aren’t many people that can do what I do. Because of this, a lot of jobs and requests come my way and sometimes I feel as if I am being pulled from left to right.”

However, Jason made it quite clear he enjoyed being busy and on his feet, with the travelling not seen as the huge inconvenience that others might regard it.

“Fair enough,” I responded, before we continued to listen to a music playlist that Jason went out of his way to insist was not his own creation!

Heading to our next location, Jason briefed me (as I was now unofficially an apprentice for the day) that the customer had undertaken the installation incorrectly.

Immediately – thanks to his earlier explanations and demonstration – I pointed out to Jason that we were faced with the same high-pressure issue encountered at the previous job. Although I was sure he’d ascertained this before me, Jason duly gave me my accolades, a pat on the back, and worked quickly to get the unit back up and running.

Upon arrival, the customer appeared stressed and relieved in equal measure. We weren’t aware that the customer had only called the depot two hours earlier, but the fact we weren’t surprised highlights the responsiveness of our service.

Our swift appearance was greatly welcomed, and also meant the client no longer needed to contend with installing a PAC 22 themselves.

Jason’s great customer service skills came into play as he instantly put the contact’s mind at ease. Rapport was established by offering some light-hearted congratulations about their efforts being more fruitful than the majority of people who attempt the same!

Once again, all heat exchangers were checked before our departure, with a couple of the exterior units repositioned to permit better airflow.

Despite my time with Jason being fairly lowkey in terms of what might have happened, it gave me an appreciation for just how far-reaching his objectives could be at any given time.

I rounded off my light interrogation with: “What key advice you would give to a budding engineer?”

As Jason began his journey with Andrews Sykes as an apprentice, he understands the journey and would advise anyone new to the industry to:

  1. Always be willing to learn.
  2. Take all the advice from experienced engineers.
  3. If you are offered a course or qualification… take it!

With some final wisdom for future apprentices, Jason summarised: “In the beginning, it was a huge learning curve for me but over time and with experience, the job gets better and easier. Try not to get flustered, or see an initial lack of understanding as a bad thing. It will help in the long run!”

As we arrived back at the depot, Jason checked in with management to return the day’s administrative forms, cleaned his workstation, and locked his toolbox. On this occasion, it remained locked for the day. But what about a hot summer’s evening?

“When it’s 30 degrees and you’re on call, it’s fair to say the pace is a lot more hectic than what you saw today,” Jason joked.

With that in mind, it was probably best for all parties that I conducted this interview in February – or else I might not have had the chance!