Meet the team: James Long

Nov 2, 2022 | Latest News, News

James Long
In the latest edition of Meet the Team we speak to VAS Vacuum Service Manager James Long about his work with the company

How long have you been at VAS?
I joined the business in 2017 as a control engineer as I had a background in automation. In 2020 I was promoted to control systems manager and at the start of 2022 I became vacuum service manager.

What are the main responsibilities in your role?
I am responsible for managing our team of engineers on site together with co-ordinating all breakdown work, service calls and ongoing projects on the shop floor. I work closely with the engineering and operations teams to ensure the business runs smoothly.

A typical day starts with overseeing jobs on the shop floor, discussing project work with the team, allocating resource for the day, and answering any phone calls or emails regarding breakdowns or issues from the previous day. My role is predominantly office based so I will also spend time checking in with the team on site and speaking to customers.

What jobs did you have before you joined VAS?
I completed an electrical apprenticeship at Timet in Birmingham. I spent seven years there before moving to Mechatronic Solutions in Kings Norton where I learnt how to design control systems and write software for robots and control systems for companies such as Dyson, 3M and Ricoh.

What qualifications or training do you draw upon in the role?
I have achieved an NVQ level 3 advanced modern apprenticeship, a BTEC in electronics and electrical engineering, a foundation degree in electrical engineering and a BSc hons degree in electrical engineering from Aston University.

My qualifications have given me a great foundation on top of management skills and experience which I have developed on the job during my career.

What do you enjoy about working for VAS?
I enjoy the fault-finding aspect of the role. I like the pressure of trying to resolve a problem. I also enjoy the management side of the job and getting involved in the intricacies of the running of a business.

Which parts of the job have changed the most since you joined the company?
As a business we have become a lot more organised. There has been a big change. I put this down to getting the right people in the right roles. We are also seeing younger people join VAS through our apprenticeship programme who are bringing new perspectives and modernising the business.

What energises you in your role at VAS?
Problem solving. I enjoy the projects and management side of the business.

What is the work-related accomplishment in your career to date that you are most proud of?
I think it would be coming into the business and learning the ropes from my dad, Mike Long, and pushing myself to be the person the company needs. I have had a fantastic start to my career but I still believe I have plenty to achieve.

What is the best bit of advice you would give somebody starting at VAS?
Be prepared to work hard and you will be rewarded. VAS is a fantastic place to work. We have a laugh, work well as a team and hard work is always noticed and rewarded.

What can be the most challenging parts of the job? How do you address these challenges?
It’s a fast-paced business and things can change with a moments notice. My role is to ensure that all departments communicate with each other to mitigate any issues.

Communication and organisation is key to keep the business flowing. We sometimes have to deliver bad news to a customer and you have to be able to communicate effectively and be honest.

From a team perspective, we use WhatsApp to communicate with the team, it ensures that everyone is in the loop quickly.

What are your interests outside of work?
My partner and I are expecting to have our first child any day now, a little girl, so the last nine months has been spent decorating and preparing for her arrival.

I also enjoy watching football, tennis, the F1, going out for food and recharging my batteries ready for Monday morning.

Tell us something nobody would know about you?
I’m a big fan of Elvis.

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