We make steel for packaging.
We caught up with Sean Kenny, Customer Support Officer (CSO), to find out about his role at the Tata Steel site in Trostre, UK.
What is your current job title and how would you describe your job to a group of children?
My current job title is a Customer Support Officer (CSO) which says it all really. I support my customers with any issues they have with the products supplied. I achieve this by working closely with the Trostre Technical and Manufacturing Departments. The customers predominately make tin can components from the Trostre products. I also support customers with new orders, developments, and any relevant information they need on the Trostre products.
How did you first learn about Tata Steel?
Unfortunately, I failed my A Levels which meant my university plans were scuppered! I went to the job centre and saw an advert for a Trainee Technician at Trostre which was then part of British Steel. That is where my 40-year career started!
How has Tata Steel helped you in your career development?
To start with I was able to continue my education on a day release basis which suited me much better than full time education. Over six years I studied and obtained a degree in Chemistry, and my final year was full time at Kingston Polytechnic. Living away from home for a year also helped with personal development. When I started work in Trostre I was very shy, so the friendly work environment in the Technical Department helped me come out of my shell! Over the years I have also attended several courses which I really benefitted from. A course on “self-presentation” enabled me to overcome my anxiety of presenting to an audience, for example.
Over my career with British Steel, Corus and Tata Steel I have always been given the opportunity and support to develop in all aspects of my roles at that time.
If you could swap your job with anyone else within Tata Steel, whose job would you want?
Over the years I have tried various roles in Technical, and Manufacturing which has enabled me to learn what I really like doing. In my current role I am front line Customer Support, the first point of contact for any quality/technical issues, and this is what I love to be involved in. So, no swapping for me, thanks!
What advice would you give a school leaver?
For any school leaver joining Tata Steel, I would advise to have an open mind and learn as you go. Take opportunities to try different roles and/or departments and learn from the experiences.
Being able to interact with people is extremely important. Fitting into the team is key, and through your interactions take the positives from people and use these to develop your own style of working.
What gets you out of bed in the morning and into work?
My work colleagues. The close colleagues are like friends and the “banter” is so important for me. For the people I have worked with over the years in all the other departments, I have so much respect for them in their speciality fields. I don’t think most people appreciate what a good and committed job they do, and they are all important cogs in the Trostre wheel. Everyone wants to help each other. Currently there are several new starters at Trostre and their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn gives me a great buzz also.
Has Tata Steel and the company ethos changed over your time at the company?
Yes, I think that over the years Trostre is driven by quality not quantity with a renewed focus on customer satisfaction year after year. We just get better, and this is seen in the excellent customer feedback performance.
What has been your favourite project at Tata Steel –what are you most proud of?
I was involved in rolling out a Lotus Notes complaint corrective action database at Trostre that was already being used at Port Talbot. The database guided people to thoroughly investigate customer complaints using the 8D principles helping to identify the root cause of the complaint. There were also sections for the corrective actions to be audited after three and six months. The database greatly helped solving complaint problems for good.
What would you like to achieve in your next 10 years?
I will be celebrating 40 years at Trostre in October, and I hope to retire next year. In my remaining time I would like to pass on my experiences and customer knowledge to as many people as possible. With all the new starters I am getting many opportunities to do this already, and it gives me a thrill to see how eager people are to learn.
Just for fun:
If you could do another job in another industry for just one day, what would it be?
A chemistry teacher or professional rugby player.
What’s your favourite activity or hobby outside work?
Long scenic walks with my wife. A recent “cracker” was seeing The Stacks and Welsh Green Bridge near Merrion in Pembrokeshire, followed by a swim in Barafungal Bay.
What is your favourite book?
Miracle in the Andes – it is about a plane that crashed in the Andes and was lost for weeks. Among the passengers was a group of rugby players going on tour. The surviving passengers showed incredible courage and resolve to organise themselves to survive for several weeks. In the end, three people were selected to leave the plane, navigate their way through the Andes and raise the alarm for the successful rescue. It is an inspirational read.
What’s a fun fact about you that people may not know?
I asked my wife to marry me by telling her that there was a sale on at the jewellers and did she “fancy coming to look for an engagement ring?” I said I was very shy! Despite this approach, my wife said ‘yes’, and we have been married for 34 years.
What skill do you think everyone should learn at school?
The ability to talk to and interact with people, and not to be shy.