From Apprentice to Managing Director

Nathan Sanders is the Managing Director of Utilities in SSE’s Enterprise division but he started his career as an apprentice prior to the privatisation of the energy industry. As part of Apprenticeship Week we asked him to take us through his career from apprentice to MD.

I have been a Managing Director of Utilities in SSE’s Enterprise division for nearly seven years. I might be a few years, experiences and miles away from where I started my career, but there are still many similarities between my role as MD and my first job as an electrical apprentice.

I started my career with Southern Electric, before the privatisation of the energy industry and subsequent merger with Scottish Hydro Electric. My apprenticeship covered all aspects of electrical installation works but when I completed the programme in 1992 I continued my development and became a Southern Electric Contracting (SEC) Technical Trainee. This role helped me develop knowledge of the newly privatised industry and build skills in system design, project control, human resource management, contract law, computer literacy and in-house procedures and operations.

After two years within the training role I became a Contracting Engineer for the business before taking up a managerial position in 1996 as the District Contracts Manager.

As I grew in the organisation I began to take on more and more responsibility, with the skills I had gained throughout my apprenticeship and traineeship standing me in good stead. By 2003 I was an Area Manager responsible for around 45 office employees and a further 200 installation engineers in the field.

My final role before becoming MD was as the Regional Director/Networks Manager of a new SEC division, supporting SSE on the construction and development of embedded gas, electricity and water. It’s always better to know what you’re talking about and thanks to my background I have a solid knowledge of construction, so I could, with the help of my team, make the best decision for the business.

Throughout all my roles I have continued to learn, develop and seek new challenges. Something I got a taste for during my apprenticeship. It may have been a few years ago, but you don’t forget the skills you learn at the start, and they definitely still come in handy today.