Engineering profile: Usman Khan

Usman Khan started life with us after graduating from the University of Sheffield with a BEng in Mechanical Engineering. Now he’s completed our graduate scheme and is working in his first substantive post on our site in Scunthorpe. Find out more...

What appealed to you about British Steel?
The graduate scheme at British Steel really stood out to me because of the well-structured placements it offered. The opportunity to rotate around different departments within the business allowed me to better grasp the supply chain of such a complex manufacturing operation. It provided comprehensive training that gave me a solid grounding of the integration of cross-functional departments that needs to come together for a large business to operate and achieve targets.

What duties does your new role include?
Starting out as a graduate engineer, I was promoted to the role of a junior engineer before being appointed in my first substantive role as Maintenance Engineer at the Ore Blending Plant.

As a maintenance engineer, I’m responsible for managing day-to-day Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) operations across plant, co-ordinating maintenance work on down days and shutdown periods, as well as dealing with any emerging reactive maintenance work to enhance operational reliability, ensuring minimal operational downtime. I manage and lead a team of 4 area team leaders while also being responsible for training and development of any apprentices coming into the department. I handle availability of plant-critical spares stock, including refurbishment of spares. I communicate with contractors and company business / engineering functions as part of the role for work progression. I also initiate and lead continuous improvement projects to optimise plant performance, including contribution to development of capital expenditure projects.

How did your degree prepare you for your new position?
My degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Sheffield provided me with an unparalleled experience to build my engineering knowledge and hone my interpersonal skills to allow me to flourish in my role at British Steel. Whether it was identifying and initiating improvements within the business or presenting my placement projects to senior engineers within the business, the skills I learned at university really helped me excel as an engineer. The opportunity to see theoretical engineering being applied to industrial applications made me understand things in a whole new perspective.

My dissertation provided me with a chance to work towards a structured objective, conducting experiments and working towards tight deadlines to ensure a timely completion. Presenting my work towards a panel of assessors instilled a sense of confidence towards my work, which has all helped me become a more organised and confident individual.

It’s important to note that none of the work given to you here is simply thrown at you – there are prior training and courses to attend to help aid your understanding and your colleagues will be more than happy to help you out as long as you’re willing to learn and grow.

What are your new colleagues like?
I’ve worked with various people during different rotations in the business on my graduate scheme and all my colleagues have been eager to help out and were willing to assist with any questions I had. There is much to learn for graduates coming fresh out of university, especially in terms of the hands-on experience and the plant knowledge your colleagues here have attained over the years. The chance to learn this from them really helped me go a long way to grasp the basics of engineering and use it to my benefit.

Do you have any advice for people applying for British Steel?
Apply early to beat the competition and really focus on your application, providing evidence of skills you can bring to the company that can set you apart from the rest of the candidates. These skills may come from either your academics or from your extra-curricular activities, whatever they may be. Remember to structure your answers well and really hone it to the core competencies required for the role, while also aligning your answer to the core values of the company.