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From Apprentice to Assistant Branch Manager: Asa’s story

02 Nov

Asa Barnett has had an interesting journey into his Travis Perkins career, and is a prime example of how hard work, ambition and support can make all the difference in how successful you can be. After joining us in 2017 as a Management Trainee, Asa has gone on to undertake two different apprenticeship schemes and is now thriving as an Assistant Branch Manager. He spoke to us about his experiences so far:

“I went from grammar school to university to college, and I always knew I wanted to work within construction”

Like many students, Asa went from grammar school to university, starting an architecture degree to combine his love of building, designing and construction. After realising that university wasn’t right for him, Asa had to rethink his career plan. Determined to work within the trade in some way, he moved on to carpentry at South Devon College, where he also worked for a local company. After two years an opportunity at Travis Perkins came up – and the rest is history.

“I was ready for the next step in my life, and Travis Perkins was offering that”

The opportunity was a level three apprenticeship at Travis Perkins in Torquay, which would involve working in sales in-branch. Asa was at a stage in his life where he wanted to start a family and buy a house, and this career opportunity seemed like the perfect steppingstone to allow him to do this. He was also excited at the prospect of undertaking more education – as someone who has always loved learning, a study-and-work apprenticeship sounded like an ideal next step. Within weeks, Asa was travelling to and from Tiverton for training and began to get a taste for what Travis Perkins is like as a company.

“There’s so much investment in people and I’ve felt supported at every step”

Asa describes feeling part of an ‘enormous team’ where no barriers are in the way of development. As he went through his level three apprenticeship, he learnt that as well as being passionate about the construction industry, he loved building customer relationships and developing rapport with builders. He combines the information he gained at university and college to help provide the best possible customer service, and says he loves every day of his job. What’s more, he says the apprenticeship has helped him to grow as a person, developing more emotional intelligence and confidence, which has helped him in his life outside work.

“It’s not just about training you to be a business manager – it's training you to be a better person, colleague and manager,” says Asa.

“My Regional Director knew I was ambitious”

Near the end of his first apprenticeship, Asa was approached by his RD who suggested two different career paths. By this stage Asa had already expressed his desire to progress and take on more responsibility, and he says Travis Perkins has always given him the opportunity to do this. He finished his apprenticeship with a distinction mark, which, while Asa said was unexpected, demonstrated the hard work he’d put into his course work. He then moved to Exeter to take up the position of Assistant Branch Manager, and he’s currently covering the whole branch in this position. He’s keen to show the extent of his abilities and show that the branch can be successful when run by an Assistant Branch Manager.

“I want to be a Director in this company and I don’t think that’s unachievable”

With a qualification to back up his sales expertise, Asa says so many doors are open to him now – but he has his eye firmly on a Director position with Travis Perkins. To continue on this path, he’s embarked on a level five apprenticeship, something which is usually reserved for Branch Managers. He’s loving the exposure to different roles and people and says it’s amazing how the course facilitators listen to feedback from apprentices and proactively update the courses to suit the requirements of participants. While he knows competition will be tight the further up the corporate ladder he goes, he believes the only thing that would stop him from achieving his goals would be himself. 

“It’s amazing to have my hard work acknowledged”

Asa says his work ethic and drive is something he thinks everyone has, so was shocked to not only be put forward for the National Apprenticeship Awards, but to be approached by Exeter College to champion apprenticeships and work in partnership with the new EBSP scheme. Asa is such a believer in apprenticeships and advocate for getting more people into the construction industry that he was happy to help. As part of this, he recently attended a meeting to discuss apprenticeships, where he joined talks with the technical directors of Taylor Wimpey, Mi-Space and Corus – as well as the Prime Minister himself, Boris Johnson. This is an experience Asa would never have imagined for himself, and says it shows how taking opportunities, putting your hand up and being open to new things can create some incredible experiences.

“I go home every day thinking I’d be doing the job for free – but the joke’s on Travis as they pay me to do it”

Asa wants other people to know about the types of opportunities apprenticeships can provide. He says there are plenty of people like him who’d like to be in construction but for whatever reason can’t be on site, and Travis Perkins allows for the industry connection in a different setting. The options within the company are endless, he says, and the scope to progress is huge.

At Travis Perkins, we believe apprenticeships can be for everyone. That’s why our LEAP programme has no restriction on age, education and background, and has different levels to suit different career aspirations. 

Find out more about our LEAP apprenticeships here or read our other insights to find out more about life at Travis Perkins

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