How the ‘appeal of Peel’ led me to apply to the apprentice scheme

Lewis Wooding-Smith, Stores Co-Ordinator

Stores coordinator Lewis Wooding-Smith (25) works within the procurement and supply chain team at the Port of Liverpool, helping ensure the smooth running of behind-the-scenes operations and ultimately keeping everything at the port in order.

A Liverpool native, Lewis joined Peel Ports in 2015 as part of the apprentice scheme. Since then, he’s been developing his skills by experiencing different elements of the supply chain.

A typical day for him might involve analysing stock management systems which involves looking at over 2000 unique stock lines. This kind of task requires a varied knowledge base, including electronic, automation, hydraulics and mechanical components, as well as knowledge of the supply chains for each.

Naturally analytical, Lewis enjoys the technical elements of the role, interpreting data, discovering trends and ensuring parts and components are always in stock. He also thrives on a challenge, such as having to source parts and find them within short time frames.

As part of his apprenticeship, Peel Ports supported Lewis to complete his Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) Level 4 – which was available through the Apprenticeship Levy framework. This qualification allowed Lewis to gain more understanding of procurement – which is where he can see his career heading.

Part of the qualification required Lewis to spend 20% of his working week doing additional learning or experience that will benefit his qualification, so he spends one day a week in procurement. Here, he’s learned the importance of category management in delivering the best possible value to the wider business from a procurement function and the understanding of aggregation of supply, which in turn delivers stronger financial, social and environmental benefits to the business.

He’s also learned end to end procurement processes and is confident in preparing, issuing and assessing Tenders. He feels that the support given to him in contract variations and negotiation during the latter stages of contracting with a supplier has been invaluable as this has allowed him to gain some of the broad and thorough knowledge base of the Procurement team rather than rely on CIPS theory alone.

On the back of gaining his CIPS Level 4, Lewis is now motivated to complete his CIPS Level 5 to build on his existing negotiating, planning, risk management and data analysis expertise. Following the completion of this, Lewis will be able to progress onto buyer and senior buyer specialisms.

As well as formal qualifications, Lewis has also received training in Microsoft Visio and  Excel as well as mentoring and support from his line manager who encouraged him to always continue learning.

An apprenticeship wasn’t the original plan for Lewis, but it ended up being the right one for him. Beginning a university degree in automotive engineering, Lewis decided this route wasn’t right, feeling that he jumped too soon before taking time to assess his personal interests and goals.

In the longer term, Lewis would like to move into procurement manager roles, with his 15-year ambition being to become procurement director. As Peel continues to embrace new technologies, Lewis will continue to welcome new capabilities in carrying out his tasks – including the new centralised SAP system. 

For Lewis, joining the team at Peel was an obvious choice: “It was the appeal of Peel that led me to apply to the apprentice scheme. I was at the stage in my life where I was searching for a career rather than just a job, and I knew that with Peel Ports’ reputation in the industry, I couldn’t go wrong.”

And the best part of working at Peel Ports? The people. Lewis commented: “The majority understand that we are all aiming for the same thing – success for both the business as well as personal. We are singing from the same hymn sheet, and it keeps you positive.”

To view current vacancies at Peel Ports, click HERE.

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