Black History Month Employee Spotlight: Simon Simpson

To celebrate Black History Month, we’re putting Simon Simpson, a CNC Machinist working at group company, Rotary Power, in the spotlight. Simon kindly offered to talk to us about his accomplishments, engineering career and what Black History Month means to him.

Tell us about yourself

I was born and grew up in Slough where I lived with my parents and three siblings. Both my parents were originally from Jamaica but moved over to the UK in the late 1950s and early 60s where they met at a wedding.

In 1990 at the age of seventeen, I started an engineering apprenticeship at a push-fit plumbing equipment manufacturer in West Drayton, before eventually moving to the North East to be with my son’s mother in the early 2000s. I’ve had a number of jobs within engineering since moving to the area, but eventually came to Rotary Power where I’ve worked for 16 years.

Why was it important for you to get involved in Black History Month 2022?

I was really keen to get involved in Black History Month and have the chance to tell my story because it’s important to highlight the contribution black people have made to all aspects of society.

I faced some challenges due to racism when I was younger, although never when working in the engineering industry, but I genuinely believe that society is changing for the better. Personally, I think it’s important to learn and grow from these difficult times as they make you realise what you can cope with and ultimately make you a stronger person. I think that’s an important lesson for anyone, no matter their background.

What made you choose a career in engineering?

My older brother did engineering so I think I was influenced by him. When I finished school, I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the career options and wasn’t sure which path to take. My brother said that engineering was a great industry to get into, I knew that he enjoyed it and so I decided to go for it with his encouragement.

Can you tell us a little about your current job role?

I currently work as a CNC Machine Setter and Operator. The products we manufacture initially arrive at the factory as a raw material before being cut down into the shape required. It’s my job to do the last operations on the product to finish them off, before they are sent for inspection.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the variety and the fact that there’s always a challenge. I also like seeing a tangible product at the end of the manufacturing process, it makes me feel a real sense of achievement.

What are your proudest achievements?

What I’m most proud of is my son Shaun who’s nineteen. He’s currently studying Forensic Science and plans to do a Digital Forensic Apprenticeship with the police. I’m really proud of him for choosing his own path and going for what he wants.

Outside of work I’m quite a sporty person. I played football to a semi-professional level for Maidenhead United FC and when I was 25, I competed on the British kickboxing team at the WUMA (World United Martial Arts) World Championships. I actually only started doing kickboxing when I was 22, but I used to do boxing when I was at school so it felt like a natural progression.

What advice do you have for young people looking to start their careers?

I would say that nothing should hold you back from achieving what you want to achieve. If you have a passion, you should go for it, no matter what.

Having a relatable role model to look up to is so important, someone that looks like you and gives you the belief that you can achieve the same success, like my brother was for me. In the future, I hope to see an even more diverse range of people working in the engineering industry so future generations from all backgrounds can see what a great career option it is.

 Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Simon. We look forward to catching up with you in the future!

At the British Engines Group, we believe that to best meet the challenges and opportunities of the future, we require a highly skilled, diverse and innovative workforce. We are proud to honour Black History Month and are committed to providing equal opportunities to people from all backgrounds, believing that a culture of inclusivity is vital when it comes to engineering a future.

Find out more about our commitment to equality and diversity.