An engineering apprenticeship set Dan Mengham up for a lifetime of learning
QHSE Manager Dan Mengham is a great example of how an apprenticeship can open the door to a lifetime of learning and fulfilling career opportunities. Joining Serco’s Defence business almost 23 years ago as an apprentice engineer, Dan has spent the last two decades developing his career within Serco. While hard work and dedication have been key to Dan’s success, he would not have been able to succeed without the support of great colleagues and understanding managers along the way.
Dan’s Serco journey started in 1998 when he landed an apprentice engineer role with Serco’s Havant site, working on the Mk24 Torpedo contract and WOTAN, a comms system used by the Army. While his motivation for taking on an apprenticeship was more about not wanting to go into full time education than an active pursuit of an engineering dream, Dan’s decision has paid off in the long run. Eventually moving to Serco’s Waterlooville site, Dan accepted a management position as the Engineering Services Lead.
After 20 years in the engineering field, Dan was after a change of pace. “I’d come to a point where I was not enjoying my role as much,” Dan said. “I’d been doing elements of health and safety as part of my management role and decided I wanted to make a career out of it. I explored a few roles externally when a secondment opportunity came up on the Skynet contract. The QHSE manager needed someone to support him and knew I was looking to move into that space, so the timing worked out well. I jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back.”
“I’d been working with many of the same people for 20 years, so changing professions was a bit daunting. It was a lot of learning, but I felt almost instantly at home with my new team. Health and safety can come across as a dry subject, but the QHSE team are great. The QHSE Manager role can be stressful, especially during a global pandemic but I have a good team and very supportive contracts around me.”
An advocate of apprenticeships and the on the job training they can offer; Dan has focused on continuing his professional development through formal qualifications. “I believe a good training programme is essential, especially when you’re 16 and don’t always know what you want to do. An apprenticeship should give you a good grounding and show you possible opportunities.
“When the health and safety component came up as part of my engineering management role in Waterlooville, I wasn’t afraid to put my hand up and give it a go. I took lots of courses and learned as much as I could.
“Throughout my time at Serco I’ve done a massive amount of qualifications, starting with an NVQ in engineering, and moving on to an ONC and HNC in electronic engineering. In Health and Safety, I’ve done IOSH courses, many internal Serco courses, NEBOSH General and Fire certificates and last year I completed my National Compliance and Risk (NCRQ) Level 6 Diploma in Applied Health and Safety and became a qualified First Aid Instructor.”
Dan recognises the importance of ongoing development even in his personal life. “Football has always been a massive passion of mine and I was a youth football coach for 10 years. You’ve got to continue to develop to learn, or you don’t get any better.”
Dan’s advice to anyone thinking about an apprenticeship (or any training opportunity) is to go for it. “Everyone will have a concern about starting something new, I certainly did. Don’t be afraid of learning new skills and see where it will take you. After 20 years I took on something new and it’s been the happiest time in my career. Long may it continue.”