Howdens Apprenticeship- Keir Straiton

Let’s hear from Keir Straiton, a Telesales Business Developer at Howdens Broughton Astley. He secured this role in June 2022, having started as an apprentice Kitchen Sales Designer in September 2021.

How did you get into working in a Howdens Depot?              

After a year at college, I realised that I wanted to get straight into work, which lead me to look about for jobs, work opportunities, apprenticeships, or something that to start a career in and work towards. After looking about for some time, I came across an apprentice warehouse role on the apprenticeship.GOV.UK website at the Howdens Leicester City depot which really caught my eye. I jumped on the opportunity and career path they were offering, sent over my CV, and managed to get an interview! At the time they were also looking for an apprentice Kitchen Designer as well.  I didn’t think much about it until going for my interview where the manager and I chatted away and she spoke to me about potentially fulfilling the designer role instead. This was massive me for and really boosted my confidence - the fact she wanted to get me in her team and thought so highly of me to give me that position. The rest is history.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

I chose to do an apprenticeship because I wanted to get straight into work. It was such a great opportunity for me, where I could learn, earn, and work towards a very rewarding fun career and kick start my working life. I always thought this would be the best decision for me in life and I right! I could work, keep learning more and more about the company and the opportunities all whilst earning money! Doing an apprenticeship is such a great option to get a working career path started. 

What do you get up to on an average day in your role?

An average day for me would firstly be getting in every morning, making tea and coffee for everybody to kick start our day! I would then follow on with designing - my favourite part of the day - in which I would get all the kitchens neatly designed and sent over to the customer to see what they think. If there were any kitchen surveys for the day, I would make sure they all got done – this would include going out to site or the customers kitchen, measuring them up, asking them what they would like to include in their kitchen design and then taking all that back to the depot ready for it to be designed and quoted. Other times the customer would come in with measurements and designing it there and then with them in the depot. Training is also a big aspect of my day, this would either be on the online sessions with everybody, learning about certain aspects of the company /roles or individually doing courses on my own. Not only would I do these training courses, I would also observe and watch the full-time members of staff to see how they do certain things and the techniques they use.  Lastly, I would make sure everything was neatly organised ready for the next day!

What do you enjoy about your job?

There are three main things I really enjoy about my job. Firstly, the people that I work with. They are great! The teamwork and togetherness of the depot and the company is great, everybody wants to work hard to get the job done. We work as a team to make sure everything goes smoothly and is done to the best standard possible. Working alongside such good people always makes the working environment so much better. Secondly, I love the responsibility, trust and tasks that are given to me. There is so much trust within this company and my depot. They trust me to go away and get on with certain jobs, treating me like a full-time member of staff. It really boosted my confidence that they give me that level of responsibility and respect to do such important jobs.  Lastly, I really enjoy making money and the progression involved in the company.

What are the specific skills you have learnt that are unique to this industry?

Firstly, customer service, a key skill I have learned during my time here: making sure that every customer is satisfied and happy with the product and service given to them. Also, teamwork: working as a team to hit targets and have an enjoyable time at work. Then there’s kitchen designing, my favourite skill I have learned. Being able to use software such as CAD and K8 to do my job is so rewarding.  I’ve also learned about organisation and deadlines: making sure that everything is organised and gets done by specific dates.   It’s also taught me about balancing work and social life, making sure that I am ready for work on a Monday but also enjoying my life and doing the things I love on the weekend.  Another skill is sociability, being able to speak to builders, fitters, tradesmen, customers but also other people working for the company is an important skill that I have learned and it has really helped me to meet new people and socialise.

Why should people consider a career at a Howdens Depot?

You should consider a career being a kitchen designer because of the different aspects of the role: meeting new people every day, speaking to them and satisfying them with what they need. Seeing them happy with a new kitchen or a new product they’ve brought from you really makes their day and that’s what I love about it. It’s also rewarding to be working for such a great company, everybody being so welcoming and warming towards you. It’s a great way of gaining all the training and experience that comes with the job to help you in life.

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