Meet the engineer who went from leaving school at 16 with virtually no qualifications to now overseeing all of Allied Bakeries’ engineering projects.
Mark Baker works as Allied Bakeries’ Company Electrical and Controls Engineering Manager, and has been involved in the modernisation and upgrading of the company’s manufacturing capabilities. However, when he left school at 16 with only a handful of CSE’s and an O level in art, he had no idea where his future lay. Falling into a YTS scheme position at a local engineering firm, he quickly realised that the job had few career prospects and so applied for an apprenticeship with a local electrical contractor working at the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber company. From here things began looking up, and thanks to years of hard grit and determination, Mark worked his way up the engineering ranks into the management role he holds today.
Mark spent a decade gaining qualifications and experience in all elements of electrical distribution systems as well as control systems and automation, taking on new roles when it became time to push himself further. His first move took him to Sun Valley foods where he progressed from technician to senior plant engineer, before joining Allied Bakeries. During almost 20 years at Allied Bakeries, Mark has held several technical roles ranging from shift engineer to controls engineer, eventually moving back into an engineering management role. He was identified for the company’s future leaders programme, receiving functional and management career support and then moved into a central role that allows him to work across all sites: delivering projects, improvement and efficiency initiatives. “My drive has always been to be the best I can possibly be, give 100 percent and deliver the best project or equipment system design,” he says. “I have a huge fear of failure and that’s what drives me on and has got me to where I am today. “I now manage a small team of project managers, and I project manage various elements myself, as well as being the Company Electrical Duty Holder, responsible for the safety of 70 electrical engineers based across the sites.”
Professional development is clearly important to Mark, however, he originally thought he wasn’t qualified to apply for Chartered Engineer (CEng) status. “I was firmly of the opinion that if I didn’t have an engineering degree I stood no chance of being considered,” he says. Thanks to support from his then boss, Mark quickly realised that this wasn’t the case and thought he’d “give it a go”. “The process was very challenging, but only because I made it hard on myself,” he explains. “I felt that because of my lack of academic qualifications my application had to be extra special to ensure I didn’t fall at the first hurdle. But overall I found the process very rewarding, especially receiving recognition for what I’ve achieved. “Accreditation has been a massive personal goal and boost to my professional confidence,” he enthuses. “Clearly it’s very desirable in a lot of high profile engineering roles – I recently updated my LinkedIn account and the activity it generated really surprised me!"