Meet the members - Derek Farman

Successfully educating himself part-time for almost ten years, this initiative-grabbing engineer will soon achieve his final goals, having made himself highly employable and able to choose from a number of industries with high-income opportunities.

IET member, Derek Farman

Derek Farman has been exposed to the engineering industry ever since leaving school. Originally taking a job with a small one-man organisation in his then home South Africa, his employer was unable to support his request to study part-time.

Farman’s motivation led to self-enrolment on a short six-week training course on air conditioning (AC) installation and refrigeration theory, but after a year working for the company and seeing no room for personal development, he decided it would be best to come to the UK, and apply for an apprenticeship.

Farman arranged an interview with a UK refrigeration company, however arrived a few months prior and took on a job as an electrical assistant at a building service contractor while he waited. Finding he enjoyed this job, and being offered an apprenticeship there, he chose to stay.

Sadly the apprenticeship wasn’t a viable option, so Farman found a new way to improve his opportunities.

Part-time study begins

“The company did propose putting me onto a formal apprenticeship, however this would have involved a pay decrease which I could not afford as I was living on my own at 20 years old,” Farman says. “But I made a decision to stay with them as I was enjoying what I was doing electrically.

“I enrolled myself onto a night school course to become an electrician and paid for it myself. After two years of being with the company I left to work for Southern Electrical Contracting (SEC) as they said they would give me full support in becoming an electrician, with formal training and pay for my night school course.

“Upon completion of becoming an approved electrician I found that I excelled in all of these qualifications, so I decided that I would like to continue part-time study,” he explains.

Since then Farman has continued his professional development. As he has progressed, earning an NC (BTEC) and then HNC in Electrical Building Service Engineering, and now working towards a degree in Building Services Engineering, he has moved onto new jobs at companies such as NG Bailey and his current employer Hoare LEA. He is now on the “final stretch” of his education.

Educational ambitions

“I am presently completing my second year on a part-time degree, one day a week at Glamorgan University,” he says. “This is my ninth year of part-time study. I would have completed ten years by the time I gain the degree.

“I am doing really well with my target grade still being a first. I also have ambition to complete a Masters, however will probably look to do this via correspondence or by four block weeks a year to complete in two years. The reason for this is that as my responsibilities are increasing in work. It is becoming ever more disruptive to my projects when I am out of the office, and it can also have the effect of limiting opportunity to attend meetings,” he continues.

“I am also registered on the Hoare Lea IET initial professional development (IPD) training programme and the Hoare Lea graduate training programme,” he adds.

Over the nine years, Farman has had to educate himself both with and without employer support. Some organisations have refused to back his development either with financial support or by offering the time off, but still he has continued.

Overcoming problems

“One employer would not pay me to have the one day off a week which was required to attend college. I therefore had to take a day unpaid and then do overtime on weekends to make up the lost money. At one stage I was refused support because the company said it thought I’d leave once I was qualified,” he says.

There’s been lots of sacrifices and he’s clear to state that its not an easy route to take, however it’s one that worked for him.

“I have had to be extremely strong willed and very cutthroat about it,” Farman explains. “When it comes to studying, everyone and everything must give way. If I didn’t have this attitude I don’t think I would have made nine years of continuous part-time study.

“It’s difficult, especially in terms of promotion. Because you’re going for more qualifications you’re still deemed a student,” he continues. “There are also pros though. I flew through my courses because they directly tied in to what I was doing day-to-day at work. Earning while you learn is also good, and I’ve really enjoyed learning new things, and being exposed to new processes and technologies.

“This route also allowed me to get a mortgage at 21, so was a much better option for me financially,” he adds, “and because I did things this way I haven’t had to pay off student loans.  

“You go through ups and downs and you spend a lot of time thinking about how to motivate yourself. The key is to be continuously positive and constantly set high standards and goals: today’s dreamers are tomorrow’s achievers I tell myself.”

The ultimate goal

Farman has found that the IET’s guidance and support has helped him stick to his development, even when times were tough. The final goal is to achieve chartered status, which is not far off. He’s proud of his achievements and knows that this route has opened up many doors to him including management positions and high-income opportunities. He can’t wait to see where the future will take him.

“The IET has really helped to give some guidance and structure to what I needed to achieve because otherwise I would have stopped a long time ago. Given that it set the benchmark, I know I have to keep going to become chartered which is my ultimate goal in terms of my studies,” Farman says.

“I have gained a tremendous sense of achievement from what I have done and I value every ounce of sweat I have put into it. I know I’m now highly employable and have so many transferable skills. My world is now opening up to all sorts of opportunities,” he concludes.