Harrogate Bus Company ex-apprentice turned manager reveals secrets of his success

A Harrogate Bus Company manager has revealed the secrets of his success for National Apprenticeship Week in a story which shows just how far you can travel from youthful beginnings.

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 11th February 2022, 4:28 pm
Updated Friday, 11th February 2022, 4:32 pm
From small acorns...Harrogate Bus Company's Engineering Manager Sam Cockburn.
From small acorns...Harrogate Bus Company's Engineering Manager Sam Cockburn.

Sam Cockburn started his career journey in Harrogate as a humble engineering apprentice 21 years ago – and now he is taking the lead as Engineering Manager at The Harrogate Bus Company.

Sam, 38, first walked through the gates of the bus firm’s Starbeck depot in July 2001 as one of its first two apprentices and never looked back.

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And now the apprentice turned leader is telling his story during National Apprenticeship Week, taking place across the UK until Sunday, February 13 to encourage others to choose a career on the buses – as The Harrogate Bus Company drives ahead with its 2022 recruitment campaign with the key message “I did it, so can you”.

Sam says: “I would say to anyone that my experience shows how it’s possible to build a great career with us – I started as an apprentice and now I’m Engineering Manager, responsible for providing safe and reliable buses for the community in my home town.

“I’d contacted 27 potential employers without success when my mum, who was an accountant with the bus company at that time, suggested to them that they could offer apprenticeships.

"Thankfully they liked the idea, and in July 2001 I became one of their first two apprentice engineers.”

Sam spent his early years learning every aspect of the job, while studying away from home in four-week blocks at Tile Hill College in Coventry.

Completing his course as the highest performing student, he qualified for the BTEC National Certificate in Engineering – preparing him for the next step up the career ladder back in Harrogate.

Sam says: “Back in Harrogate I worked my way up to become a Shift Fitter, then MoT Inspector, responsible for preparing buses for safety tests.

“In October 2019 I moved to a coach operator near York to widen my experience and see the world of engineering from a different perspective.

"But when the pandemic hit the coaching industry in 2020, I came back to The Harrogate Bus Company as Acting Supervisor, while still working as a Fitter to support the team.”

Last month, Sam completed his Transport Manager CPC qualification, adding to his extensive experience and skills and making him the ideal candidate to lead the Harrogate engineering team.

Parent firm Transdev’s Operations Director Vitto Pizzuti says: “Throughout his career so far with us, Sam has shown the dedication and commitment to become a skilled leader. His eye for detail and focus on safety has taken him from apprentice to manager, and he has a bright future to look forward to in the years ahead.

“As Sam’s story shows, we offer an amazing career to people who share Sam’s determination to succeed. As we now say to everyone thinking of joining us – Sam did it, so can you”.

This week marks the 15th annual National Apprenticeship Week, a celebration of apprenticeships which brings together businesses and apprenticeships across the country to spotlight the positive impact apprenticeships make on individuals, businesses and the wider UK economy.

Details of all career opportunities with The Harrogate Bus Company and Transdev’s nine other bus operators across the North of England, including Step Up, the company’s ground-breaking fast-track people development programme, are online at transdevbus.co.uk/make-your-mark.