Ex BT Engineer

What could drive a dedicated, keen BT employee to actually end a ‘Job for Life’ with BT ? Read all about this Ex BT Engineer Geoff Grove and realise that ‘there is a life after BT’.


My past as a British Telecom Engineer – The company I was so proud to work for back between 1987 to 2011

BT Engineer

The good old days when I used to work for BT

I still remember my BT Job interview, and the day I joined British Telecom and started to train to be a BT Engineer. A terrific ‘Champagne’ moment. 27 years ago I was so proud to have been accepted and be part of something so exciting. No other job would be like it, it was the dawn of a fantastic journey!

My first day as a BT Engineer

On my first day of work, I was taken to a Telephone Exchange in Rayleigh Essex – my hometown. The sheer amount of relays and ‘a spaghetti’ of wiring on a proportion I’ve never seen, left me standing in awe. I was to be trained to work  and understand what my mind at that moment struggled to comprehend. Given that I had always been so interested in electronics, my eyes were ‘like saucers’! Colleagues at BT treated each other with respect and there was a ‘happy family’ feeling to the whole thing. You all knew your role, you were all team players.

I loved my BT Job – making our customers happy

Every time I fixed someone’s telephone line, or installed an extra socket and saw the job through from start to finish, I got a huge sense of satisfaction. There, at the end of a visit by a BT Engineer, was a satisfied happy customer. I helped elderly and hard of hearing people understand their BT telephone and get more out of it. Just programming the numbers in and demonstrating an amplifying handset, simply having the time to spend an extra 15 minutes to go that extra mile was very rewarding all round. I didn’t always have the time – but I made it. I was highly self-motivated, conscientious and driven. I got to work in very interesting and diverse places, meeting interesting people from all walks of life.

I won an award for outstanding service

For my achievements as a Customer Service Engineer I was presented with an award for Customer Care by a senior manager named John Pardon. I was thrilled and so proud to receive this recognition at the age of just 23.

Our BT jobs – The gradual demise of the British Telecom I once knew.

It started with our stores depot. BT sold off the large yard I’d cleared of snow, year after year, and our great team of storeman, various other departments closed down. All those characters, hard working BT people, disappearing in the unstoppable name of progress. I remember walking through the silent building at Stock Road, into the toilets. There were 10 or 15 urinals in a row, and I would look on, saddened that the whole place was now like a ghost town. I could only imagine how many people used to work in that building.

The new style of BT Engineer Job – Tracked, monitored, measured, scrutinised, Time and Motion

Laptops were handed out to engineers, once again I felt very lucky. I was at the cutting edge of technology, able to demonstrate skills to customers to help them, and enhance their experience of a BT Engineer visiting them. Not many of my friends were issued with an expensive laptop as a perk of their job. As time went on though, the laptops would become more and more crucial to monitor and scrutinise our performance to extreme and oppressive levels. They sadly closed our vehicle workshop at Stock Road, no one local now to look after our fleet of vans, our once bustling yard was now desolate and bare.

Trackers installed in BT vehicles

It’s a sign of the times for many people in the service sector. ‘Big Brother’ mentality by the heavy handed impervious upper management focusing heavily on how many jobs they can get us to do, though I felt that they just paid ‘lip service’ to the quality aspect, it really wasn’t something that weighed heavily on our appraisements. Action plans were handed out for anyone who’s productivity was below a certain level. My line manager glossed over the fact that I hadn’t had a job come back in 3 months, it was all about speed from now on. He was just as powerless as I was so stop the unstoppable. Then came the installation of Trackers, and in powerful unison with the laptops, would log our every movement.

How could it be time to leave my job as a BT Engineer

A paradox – leaving a career I loved so much. Walking away from the vast knowledge I had built up over 23 years, for I knew the layout of every underground cable in every street in a 10 mile radius. I’d climbed every pole, worked down so many holes, through the seasons come snow, rain, ice, wind or warm sunshine. That kept everyone going, kept the spirits up on those bitter grey days. You worked in the elements with that vision of summer to keep your spirits high…

Redundancy

I couldn’t second guess if and when there would be another round of voluntary redundancy. The settlements being offered were also declining so I had no choice. I couldn’t work in this way with the trackers and nit picking ‘Action Plans’ any more…

I had to jump… and here I am! Now an Ex BT Engineer !

Time for a new start & hopefully if I am successful I will inspire many others who feel stuck in a similar helpless situation. I hope that I can demonstrate to others that the future outside of a BT career can be very rewarding, challenging and enjoyable too.


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