October 18th 2023
“I work to bring the South West region together – everything we do needs to be a collaborative, team effort” says James Christie, Regional Operations Manager.
James began his career at Selwood 16 years ago on the Management Training Programme, where he gained a Business Management degree alongside working four days a week in the Chandlers Ford HQ.
He then spent the following years as a Hire Controller and Hire Manager before becoming Branch Manager at Chandlers Ford. In October 2022, he was promoted to Regional Operations Manager.
“I tried a bit of everything on the management programme! With experience across departments such as the hire desk, finance and operations, I found working with pumps the most interesting and knew I wanted to learn more about that side of the business. Dealing with customers and solving problems motivated me and gave me the most satisfaction!”
Bringing the region together
As Regional Operations Manager in the Southwest, James oversees day to day running of the Bridgend, Bristol, Bracknell, Chandlers Ford, Weymouth and Saltash depots.
“I’m based at Chandlers Ford but visit the other depots once or twice a month. I ensure all the depots have enough staff and the right people in the right roles and make sure they've got everything they need to do the job, including pumps, hoses, vehicles, and anything that we need to operate as the leading pump rental company.
“Health and safety is a big part of what I do – that’s remaining compliant as a business and ensuring every member of staff goes home safe at the end of the day. I’m currently involved in a project that’s investigating how we can improve the safety of our drivers when they’re delivering and collecting equipment around the country. I try to involve myself in any projects I think I can add value to when it comes to Health and Safety.
“It’s also my job to ensure each branch is aware of any new product launches and try to improve how the depots operate. That involves training - upskilling all staff members to increase their knowledge of the products so they can provide a quality service to customers.”
At the end of the month, James reports directly to the Southern Operations Director where he discusses his ideas for improvements for the depots, including if there is a need for new equipment. He also has quarterly meetings with all Regional Operations Managers and Directors in the UK and regular catchups with the Regional Operations Manager for the Southeast.
“As well as learning about what one another is doing, we try and move equipment fairly within the company, to make sure that every depot can fulfil the work they need to.”
A day in the life
“No day in this role is the same. Although I may have a few depot visits booked in the diary, it changes all the time because the industry we work in is very reactive.”
James went on to talk about how he often has a plan set up for the week, but when an emergency comes in, he must prioritise – even going to site to help organise the job with the solutions team if needed.
“As a former branch manager and dealing with water companies, where you can get two or three emergencies in the space of a couple of hours, you have to be quite fluid. And that's the way I work.”
Training and development
“I’m currently involved in developing a two-day training course for Selwood managers to increase their knowledge on pumps, ancillaries, and the different applications that we can use our equipment on, and most importantly, why! When it’s ready, I’ll do a test run to get feedback from my team before we roll it out to the wider business.”
James also delivers more hands-on training, and recently took all the managers in the region to a site to talk them through how the sewage treatment process works, showing them different pump applications and jobs and what they're doing, how they're working, why it's important and where it fits in in the water treatment process.
“I learnt what I know by being thrown in at the deep end! Also learning some valuable lessons from others both in day-to-day conversations and their past experiences, as well as going to site and seeing how things work first hand.
“I am now hoping to pass on the knowledge I have developed to others. As everyone learns in different ways it can be a challenge to incorporate various methods to ensure everyone gets the best out of it. It’s important to me to get that right.”
Development is an important part of James’ role as a manager, and he carries out regular reviews with his team to ensure they’re happy and performing at their best.
“I want to know how they are and if I can help them with anything. But I’m also constructive and give them areas to work on. In these conversations, I like to ask them if they feel there is anything that could be done differently – it’s about that two-way feedback as I want them to understand what they need to do to grow and develop in the business.”