Working at Tarmac is a steep yet rewarding learning curve for chemical engineering graduate Amy Sherwin, who helps keep the company moving in her role as transport manager.
Amy joined the graduate programme in September 2019 straight from university. Graduates like Amy move around the business on a series of placements where they gain experience working with colleagues on a wide range of issues and tasks. The graduate scheme is very hands-on and has given her the scope to make a real difference.
Working in the business’ building products division, her role typically involves dealing with all driver-related issues such as safety and customer queries. She runs inductions with drivers, checks they have the relevant licences and cards, and makes sure they keep up to date with their competencies.
She also collects and analyses data about costs, mileage and other transport-related information to find trends and discrepancies, and makes action plans for dealing with them.
“It’s a steep learning curve because I had little knowledge of logistics before I started this role,” Amy says. “Sometimes it’s challenging to keep multiple projects going at the same time, but my colleagues are very supportive.”
And this perfectly illustrates why Tarmac’s graduate programme appeals to so many people like Amy. In two short years she has progressed through her placements to the role she is currently in, and already has career highlights that she talks about with enthusiasm.
“Implementing an efficiency system at Swains Park [in the East Midlands] that measures downtime, maintenance and quality, and running training sessions for over 50 operators in the cement, lime and packed business were really rewarding.
“Also being the supervisor at Tarmac’s Meriden dry silo mortar plant, near Solihull, was quite a learning curve. Having that responsibility, earning the respect of the drivers and the other operators and being able to manage the plant when the manager wasn’t here.”
As a young woman, Amy works hard to gain the respect of all colleagues who have more experience and knowledge of the business. “Everyone I work with is supportive. All my line managers have been men and they’ve been very supportive and not made me feel any different from anyone else.”
She describes being on site as, “daunting at first, and many drivers were surprised to be dealing with a woman. But once they got over the shock and realised I’m as capable as anyone else on site, they always treat me with respect.”
The tide is turning for the better in an industry that has been dominated by men since time immemorial. “The culture is definitely changing,” Amy said, “especially among frontline staff and how they behave. Tarmac’s inclusion and diversity strategy is helping to drive the direction of the business in a more positive way for women.”
Employees are actively encouraged to get involved with inclusion and diversity via virtual communities on the Tarmac intranet. Amy is a member of the Female Voice network, which promotes, celebrates and empowers women in the company.
Speaking of her future, she says: “Tarmac is flexible and allows you to try new things. There are lots of opportunities and if you want to do something, they will encourage you. My current role isn’t something I imagined I’d be doing but I have the skillset and I really enjoy it.”
That flexibility also gives her a good work-life balance, allowing her to fulfil family commitments, such as collecting her stepdaughter from school when she needs to.
Lastly, Amy has some solid career advice that people at all levels of the company could benefit from. “Don’t hold back. Your ideas are valid. Even if you’re new and have no experience, you could have a fresh idea that no one else has thought of. If you’re passionate and genuine that will always come through.”