Navigating a career as an Operations Manager
Alex Rees-Pedlar is Operations Manager for the 2m planers at Jet Plant. He shares his insight on what makes road planing a career of choice.
As the Operations Manager at Jet Plant, overseeing a fleet of five 2-metre machines and managing projects on bigger roads and motorways, my daily routine is always varied but carries with it a great deal of responsibility.
For young people who prefer a hands-on career with strategic planning and team management at its core, road planing might just be the path to consider.
My journey with Jet Plant started five years ago, and it has been filled with challenges, growth, and the satisfaction of seeing tangible results. My role involves not just handling machines and projects, but also looking after the well-being of the dedicated teams operating each machine. Three skilled individuals form the backbone of every machine, and ensuring their contentment is a key aspect of my responsibilities.
One of the aspects I take great pride in is the strategic planning involved in my role. From booking lorries and sweepers to orchestrating the intricacies of each project, the importance of planning cannot be overstated.
While much of the planning is done from the comfort of the office, I make it a point to conduct site audits once a month, providing a first-hand look at the projects and an opportunity to connect with our valued customers.
2023 marked a pivotal moment for me as I transitioned into the role of Operations Manager. I quickly learned the ropes and embraced the challenges that come with being a manager, including the inevitable calls on weekends. It was a period of continuous learning, adapting, and growing into the responsibilities of the role.
My journey into road planing wasn’t a conventional one. Having left school with just two GCSEs, I initially explored various jobs, including working in pubs and bars. Eventually, I found my way to Jet Plant via a position in planing sales, selling actual road planings, and later serving as an operations assistant for two years. The switch was a natural fit for my practical mindset, and I found satisfaction in a career that offered a 9-5 schedule, minus the weekends.
Being on call Friday through Sunday might sound daunting, but it primarily involves managing jobs from the comfort of my home, addressing issues, breakdowns, and site concerns. Weekends can vary in intensity, but the strategic planning and organisation skills acquired over the years play a crucial role in handling unexpected challenges efficiently.
One of the reasons I see myself staying at Jet Plant until retirement is the camaraderie and mutual respect within the team. Working alongside individuals like the Managing Director, whose work ethic is inspiring, makes every challenge worthwhile. While every job has its hair-pulling moments, the satisfaction of achieving big targets, such as aiming for the busiest year in shifts in 2024, keeps us motivated.
Our work involves a mix of existing long-term projects and winning new customers. Building strong relationships with clients is crucial and meeting them in person adds a personal touch to our interactions. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, reinforcing our reputation for reliability and excellence.
Managing a team at the age of 30, and sometimes even overseeing individuals older than myself, presents its own set of challenges. However, the close-knit Jet Plant family, combined with the opportunity for personal and professional growth, makes it a rewarding experience. The non-stop nature of the job, from February to October, keeps the days flying by, and the diverse experiences of working on roads across the country contribute to the sense of accomplishment.
A career in road planing at Jet Plant offers more than just a job; it provides an opportunity to be part of a dedicated team, work on challenging projects, and witness the tangible impact of strategic planning and team management. I am really looking forward to helping the business achieve our goals in 2024 and beyond.