In our latest Inspiring Leaders piece, we spoke to Andrew Cadman, a Service Engineer at Chubb Fire & Security. 

Andrew started his career in the RAF before becoming an engineer. He climbed the ranks at a company acquired by Chubb and is passionate about training and teamwork. 

The early years 

I was born in the Black Country, in West Bromwich. I was brought up with my mum, dad and sister. It was uneventful until I was eight years old, which was when my dad passed away. My sister left home when she was 18, so it was just me and mum for many years until my mum remarried. 

I didn’t do too badly at school, but after leaving education, I didn’t know which direction to take. Because of my step-father’s influence (he was an ex-Marine), he encouraged me to join the Forces. I joined the Royal Air Force. However, due to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, I gave it up and went into electronics with a company that installed intercom units in West Bromwich and Stoke. 

I wanted to go into a field that was more interesting 

I was highly trained in the Air Force – the training was right down to component level, and it stood me in good stead. Upon leaving the Air Force, I joined a firm that did satellite TV – that was the buzzword at the time, so I got myself trained on satellite systems. Following that, I decided to get into something that was more interesting, so I opted to work for a security company in my hometown. 

Eight years after joining, in about 1998, the company was taken over by Chubb – so I’ve been with Chubb for about 25 years now.  

Every day is completely different 

I’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry over the years. It’s good to have the initial input of shaping the future – I’m really passionate about that. The challenge today is about getting and retaining the best engineering talent, who can hit the ground running and come on a journey with us. 

No day is the same – I could be doing routine maintenance, fault-fixing or learning new systems. That’s the real positive – I’m not doing the same today as I did the day before or last week, so it’s never monotonous. As engineers, we work with a myriad of panels so we have to become experts quickly. Chubb engineers are highly regarded because we are multi-disciplined. 

It’s a very interesting industry and highly technological. I support meeting the needs of the customers first. Then it’s also important to keep up with the latest information and guidance, so I do a lot of manual reading outside of work hours. 

Nurturing customers is a delight 

I’ve been looking after a customer on my patch for 25 years. I’ve become more and more involved with the contract, and I really enjoy being the person they come to for support. I’m open and honest with the customer and ensure that we, as a business, support their needs. We’ve just completed a rather large upgrade of their access system, and I’ve been able to nurture relationships that will allow me to continue to help the customer grow until my retirement. 

Camaraderie is essential in engineering 

We have a very strong bond as engineers within our teams. If somebody is struggling with something, they put it in a WhatsApp group – someone will always pick it up and respond. 

As engineers, we support each other very robustly. We have great support from the wider teams in the business. The camaraderie is paramount, and building that team is important. It’s about teamwork. 

The one thing I will say about the engineering population is that it doesn’t matter what time of the day or night; you can always find someone to help you out. 

We do make sure we check on our colleagues to make sure they’re ok.  

Engineering is a way of life 

You need to make sure your partner is aware that your job – it isn’t a 9-5 job; it is a way of life. My wife knows that. The way to make it work is the old saying: ‘Happy wife, happy life’. 

I’ve got two daughters: one works weekends, and my other daughter does shift work, so it’s super important that we can make time together. 

We’ve got a great social life and a good group of friends. But it is a tightrope that you have to walk unless you have good teammates around you at work who can step in to help. Whatever time I can spend with my family is of paramount importance. In my spare time, I like to go out walking – and spend weekends away and holidays with my family. 

Quick-fire questions: 

Where do you like to go on holiday? 

When I was 50, I went to Japan, which is my most memorable holiday. One of my daughters was studying out there for a year, so we scooped up the other daughter, flew out, and spent eight days on a whirlwind tour of the country. My wife and I are planning a holiday somewhere very tropical in the Caribbean. We went on a cruise for our 25th anniversary, and that was fantastic, so we’ve looked into going on another one. However, I might save it until I’m 60! 

Do you have any unusual talents? 

I have a tendency to come up with some very colloquial, local terms that people find amusing if they haven’t heard them before. 

Which football team do you support? 

I support Walsall. My dad actually had a tryout for West Bromwich Albion back in the day. He used to take me down to the local park on a Sunday to watch football, but I wasn’t really bothered then; my interest came after that. I’m also a huge England supporter. 

What music do you enjoy listening to? 

I have a very broad taste in music. I used to like dance music and still love to listen to it, but I don’t bust any moves these days. I used to rip the dancefloor up in my heyday! 

Do you enjoy reading books? 

I very rarely read books these days, just technical manuals. I do listen to audiobooks on holiday. I did have a favourite author, Patricia Cornwell, and the family bought me all of her novels, but some are still sitting there untouched. When I’ve had free time over the years, I’ve spent it playing with the kids, or just having downtime, not thinking about anything.