GROUNDBREAKING graduates are moving through the ranks at Komatsu.
Stuart Tomlinson, 27, and Maria Dimova, 28, both recently gained promotions to Senior Quality Engineer and Senior Production Engineer respectively, at the Birtley plant, having progressed rapidly since being recruited fresh from university.
Stuart, of Gosforth, who joined the firm directly from Newcastle University’s Mechanical Engineering Degree, puts his rapid progress down to the variety of roles within the business, as well as its focus on continuous improvement.
“Engineering is such an interesting profession,” said Stuart. “But at Komastu it’s so varied and interesting because no two days are the same. The graduate programme in place at Komatsu is fantastic as you get to sample every part of the business before deciding which area interests you the most or which area your skills are most suited.
“I regularly go to schools or back to university to talk about working life at Komatsu. At Komatsu you’re challenged, you have the opportunity to travel, you’re encouraged to move around the plant to sample other departments…it’s been an incredible experience up to this point.”
Maria, originally from Bulgaria but now living in Newcastle, graduated from Durham University’s Mechanical Engineering Degree in 2012 and has been with Komatsu since 2014.
“When I first applied for the job, I wasn’t really aware of what was produced at Birtley,” said Maria. “I was obviously aware of the global standing of Komatsu and what it did, but was genuinely surprised at the size and scale of our operation.
“It is a fantastic place to work because for the first two and a half years, I felt like the focus was on me as an individual. Komatsu provides the best training and experience for graduates because it knows it will pay off for them in the long term as the more they invest in employees, the more employees invest back into the company.”
Caption - Maria Dimova and Stuart Tomlinson
Komatsu’s two-year graduate programme provides new starters with five-months’ experience in each of the firm’s five main engineering departments: quality, planning, purchasing, design and production.
“The Komatsu graduate programme is an excellent introduction to the company and, while I was drawn to quality, it was invaluable to have that experience of how the other areas of the business work,” added Stuart.
“Komatsu UK takes workforce training and skills very seriously. It has excellent apprenticeship and graduate programmes, but there is an ethos of continuous improvement that runs through the company. To someone like me, that is a major benefit, as I get to challenge myself on a daily basis.”
Maria said: “You are exposed to so much at Komatsu and quickly feel empowered, as there are constant opportunities to receive training to help you to improve your performance and progress, and both Stuart and I have recently started the company’s in-house Institute of Leadership and Management Programme”.
Tracey Bowman, Director of Human Recourses & Corporate Affairs at Komatsu, said: “Stuart and Maria have worked incredibly hard since arriving at Komatsu, progressing quickly from the graduate programme to now take on senior engineering roles – fantastic achievements and a testimony to their drive and capability.
“We work closely with universities, colleges and schools to ensure that young people and students are aware of the many disciplines and opportunities provided in engineering. Whether an apprentice or graduate, there is a wealth of opportunity available in engineering for people with enthusiasm, talent and drive.”
Komatsu last year celebrated the 30th anniversary of the opening of its Birtley plant. In a landmark year, the company launched three new machines, all of which are industry leaders in high reach, hybrid and intelligent machine technology.
Komatsu UK employs almost 450 people and has recruited over 50 new employees in the last year, including apprentices, graduates, and production operators.
Komatsu UK is part of the Global Komatsu organisation, which is the world’s second largest manufacturer and supplier of construction and mining equipment.