Connor Tebb, Project Engineer from Atmos International sitting in green chair

How would you describe your job in a minute?

I manage a project from cradle to grave. I take them from their initial conception, analyze the information from the client, configure the system according to their requirements, test it and upload the system to the client’s site. From there on it is a case of logging the data, tuning the system and finally commissioning the system before colleagues in maintenance assume responsibility for it. I really enjoy the process of seeing a project through. I’ll also provide some support to other projects where additional knowledge may be required. I love the challenge when we include a number of pieces of our software and hardware together. I’m on the phone with clients, internal colleagues and meeting with product champions to deliver the project within the agreed timescales.

What do you feel your biggest achievement to date is personal or professional?

I’d have to say the Three Peaks challenge that I did with colleagues from Atmos. It wasn’t only physically challenging but mentally too. While the time limit is there (all three peaks have to be submitted and descended within 24 hours), it’s the changing weather, the travel and facing something you’ve never seen before. Ben Nevis was reasonably okay but the descent was long. However, Snowdon was something I’d never faced. From sunshine at the foot of the mountain to low clouds, rain and the cold at the summit. It completely throws you. I was so grateful to have someone to climb down with afterward – it was pretty much gravity doing the work for me though.

Professionally it was my second project managing the commission of a system in France. That really was fresh from the cradle! I saw it all the way and handed it on to maintenance. I had a lot of pride in that project as it was my first solo one. I learned a huge amount from it too as well as having great support from my colleagues along the way.

You’re known for being an early bird and in the office very early. What’s a typical day for you?

The flexibility working at Atmos is great – along with the trust and responsibility that goes with it. To the extent of coming in early, it means I feel like I can have more of my evening to follow my interests. I do spend a regular amount of time in the gym and during the winter it’s great to see a little bit of daylight after finishing work. My view is to work hard during the day and make the most of your evenings. It works for me definitely.

A typical day is usually checking my emails but then I tend to shut Outlook down and then focus on the project tasks I need to do for that day. At the moment I’m doing regular tuning of systems. The Atmos software is pretty advanced and intuitive but we’re working on optimizing it as much as possible before it goes to the site. While I did a mechanical engineering degree, I did do thermo fluids so that has helped. I really enjoy the engagement with the clients too, the relationship building is so important.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

This is really tough because my role is quite diverse and I’m not one for a few words when a dozen will do – ask my colleagues!

  • Partnership – I think it’s so important to have this approach both internally and externally. I guess you could say it’s like one of our values – Being brilliant together!
  • It’s hard to pick the next one because there’s not just one word for it. Thinking out of the box sounds a little corny but it’s taking a different look at a problem, not just using the same old methods. Fresh thinking!
  • The last one is really about getting faster and better at what we do. I’m going to call that one maximizing our potential.

You’ll notice I’ve deftly used all the company values but I’m not sure if I could ever get it down to just three words!

If you could swap jobs with somebody who would it be?

Now, this is an obscure one, but someone who I’ve admired for such a long time is Valentino Balboni, the former chief test driver for Lamborghini. I love my cars a lot. I’d love to have his job, although he’s retired now and be able to test drive some of the most iconic supercars in the world.

As a kid, I spent loads of time with my Dad working on his car in the garage – A Triumph Spitfire. He loves his cars just as much as I do, especially the raging bulls from Italy. His love of Lamborghinis has been passed on to me and is in my veins. I even got a job as a supercar instructor whilst I was at university. I got to drive a plethora of exotic cars that happened to include David Beckham’s Ferrari 360. Colleagues will know that I am super competitive so it was no surprise that I took no prisoners on the last Atmos employee event which was at an outdoor karting venue. For me it’s not just about the speed, because that can be addictive, it’s also how to best handle the car on the road to really enjoy the drive.  

Looking ahead what's on your wish list for the next five years?

Personally, I want a house and a nice car. Aside from the materialistic things, I want to focus on my career. I would like to be a senior engineer and to get more exposure to different parts of the company and industry. I knew nothing about leak detection before applying to Atmos, but I really find it fascinating and it’s given me some great skills.

You talk about the varied role you've got, but what professional challenges do you come across? 

No pipeline is the same. We’re pushing the boundaries all the time and working with live conditions that aren’t always textbook. I think that keeps you on your toes. The timeframes are often tight so you have to be disciplined and focused. As I take on new projects, I am also starting to work with products I’ve not had much exposure too, but that’s an opportunity, not a challenge.

Who would you pick as a mentor?

It’s quite a difficult one as lots of people have helped in different ways. Of course, my parents have been amazing as have my grandparents, but particularly my grandfather. He is the epitome of someone who’s self-made and such an inspiration.

I’d like to highlight one of my best friends. He’s helped me look at the bright side of life and the reason I think I’m the positive person I am now. I tell him all the time how he’s helped me. I wasn’t always this positive and he sat me down and told me that I needed to start acting more positively and it will change my outlook. He said that by doing that you’ll attract like for like and he was right. While he’s the same age as me, he’s incredibly mature and levels headed.

I think it’s incredibly important for men to talk and be honest about their feelings too. We’re often too scared of the consequences.

I suppose now would be a good time to mention my sister as well. She’s younger than me, but the first person I talk to about anything. Growing up with her has been the best mentorship, and I’ve learned so much from her.

If you could go back and speak to your 16-year old self, what would you say?

Study! Despite having worked hard and got a first for my degree, I almost dropped out of my A-Levels. I’d also say it’s okay to mistakes. I’ve made plenty of them and I don’t like to think I’ve got regrets but I’ve got lots of learning curves! Corny I know, but it’s made me who I am now for sure. I’d probably advise to stretch myself and take risks too.

 As Atmos continues to grow, what's your advice to recent new recruits?

Your discipline won’t define you. It may make certain roles easier to get into, but you should still apply for a job role that is not necessarily targeted at your area of expertise. You might be pleasantly surprised what could come out of it.

What’s your motto or mantra?

Most of mine are borrowed from films and TV, to be honest. I really like one from Rocky when he’s talking to his son saying “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows”. That one really speaks to me. You have to come through the bad and find the good. There’s even good in the bad, that comes from the whole positivity thing.

Do you have a blog, a newspaper or a media title you go to?

Not really. I read and watch anything about cars! I’ve tried to write my own blog and once had a YouTube channel, but it never took off. I’ll always try something though. I do like YouTube shows where they take wrecked cars and restore them.

As a regular globe trotter, what’s your favorite country?

This is quite hard to narrow down to just one. One place which did take my breath away was Antigua. It’s got some stunning views and the most amazing food and drink. Another is Andorra, which is my go-to location for skiing. It’s a lot smaller than most resorts but has some fantastic slopes and bars.

 Last words?

Have you tried my banana bread? I’m a budding baker and have plans to develop my recipes. Watch this space.

By: Will Stone
Date: 03 March 2020