What are your main areas of expertise?
I control the day-to-day management of production at Covesion, overseeing the process from the initial order until the product is ready for shipping. My role tends to be on our standard product lines ensuring that we have. The manufacturing process involves a number of steps including the initial processing of the materials, poling, etching, dicing and polishing, QC and coating. The number of steps involved in the production of the crystals and the precision required during the manufacturing and quality control processes means that I am constantly multi-tasking, thinking about where each crystal or waveguide is in the production chain and where it needs to go next.
I have a great team working with me. When I started working at Covesion 14 years ago, it was just me working in manufacturing which was OK at the time, but the company is growing at such a pace now that we are expanding our production output, hence we have had to recruit more people.
What are your credentials / past work experience that make you suited to your role in the company?
When I left school, I went to work at Marconi (now BAE Systems) as an apprentice electronic engineer. I enjoyed it and obviously some of the skills I learnt there are very relevant to my role here at Covesion. Unfortunately, Marconi made a number of cuts before the end of my apprenticeship and I had to look into different career paths.
I moved into the banking sector, working for a well-known, high street bank, in their processing centre. The centre processed all the information taken from customers in branch, or via the internet with regards to setting up direct debits, opening new accounts etc. The role taught me how to be good with administrative tasks, which every job has elements of, but also how to organise myself on the practical side. While at the bank I had targets, deadlines and detailed procedures which had to be adhered to. The same is true for my role here at Covesion, both for the administration and manufacturing elements of my job. Although it was a completely different industry, the skills I gained in the banking sector were highly transferrable.
I joined Stratophase 14 years ago, initially on a temporary contract and I have been here ever since! When Stratophase and Covesion became two different companies, I went to work in manufacturing for Covesion, so I have really been hands-on from the start. I think that’s always the best way to learn. The company and my role have grown and grown but because of my background I am completely familiar with all of the production processes and I always know where everything is in the cycle.
What is your favourite part of your job?
It’s hard to pick what the favourite part of my job is. I think it’s the whole job, the variety of it, the fact that every day is different. I’m not sitting at my desk all the time, I am still very much hands-on; I come down to the clean room, use a dicing machine, I’ll get involved with the polishing, whatever needs to be done.
For quite a while, when Covesion was in its infancy, it was just me doing everything. I would have three or four different things going at the same time and got very good at thinking: ‘Right, that’s running; I can get this done at the same time as that’s going.’
I think I just like to have busy brain!
What has been your career highlight so far?
I like meeting deadlines, getting product shipped to customers. Sometimes the deadlines can be quite tight, especially if a customer wants a specific product turning round quickly. I enjoy the challenge and the certain amount of pressure that comes with a tight deadline. I think you always have to see something from the customer perspective; our products are part of a bigger picture therefore it’s important for our customers that the right product turns up at the right time. I get a sense of satisfaction from achieving that.
We have a fantastic team here at Covesion; much smaller than the companies I have worked for in the past. I haven’t got a staff number anymore; I am Karl in production. That’s something I like. We all have a similar drive and outlook, and everyone contributes to the success and growth of the company.
Personal background / hobbies
I was born and raised in Portsmouth, I’ve got a little boy who has just turned one and I am stepdad to my partner’s two children who are aged 9 and 6. It’s fair to say that life is pretty full outside of work with that lot! Exercise wise, life just involves running around after a toddler– it’s exhausting!
Other than that, I’ve been a season ticket holder at Portsmouth F.C. for the last 23 or so years. There used to be four of us that went but now it’s just myself and my dad. I enjoy it, the time to get away, have a couple of beers. The highs and lows of the game, it’s great!