Mark Stewart was a finalist in the Outstanding Mentor Award in Northern Ireland’s Apprenticeship Awards, held at Belfast Harbour Commissioners Harbour Office. The Awards celebrate the positive impact apprentice’s make within the workplace by furthering business goals. Mark works within the formulation team at Norbrook and mentors students on Southern Regional College’s (SRC) Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) in Applied Industrial Science, a two year foundation degree programme.
With seventeen HLA routes on offer at SRC, hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way to grow talent, plus develop a motivated, skilled, and qualified workforce. Mark has mentored up to 15 students on the degree programme. We caught up with Mark who explained what it is like to be nominated for an award and why you should consider doing an apprenticeship.
Tell us about yourself and your role in Norbrook?
I have been working in Norbrook for just over 8 years now and am currently in the formulations laboratory team. Here, we develop new products to drive business forward for Norbrook.
I previously studied at Dundalk Institute of Technology and Queens University, before taking up my role in Norbrook. The formulations team is a great team to be a part of. We continue to evolve as we learn what the business needs and face challenges head on by learning collaboratively. It is an exciting and enjoyable journey to be on.
I’m also a dad with two children, an 18 month old and a newborn so it’s pretty busy at present.
What inspires you?
I like to see apprentices succeeding. I have been involved in the interview process and have seen first-hand candidates’ nerves when they come into the interview. Successful candidates are initially shellshocked being surrounded by all these people wearing lab coats and it is a big learning curve for them. I like to flatten that curve and make it more manageable. For me, it’s seeing people’s success and continuing growth.
How does it feel to be nominated for the Outstanding Mentor award?
It is a great feeling! It is a great vote of confidence that I am doing the right thing by my employer, and to be recognised at national level it is very pleasing.
What was the process like as a finalist?
I was delighted to receive the news that I was a finalist. As part of the finalist process, there was an interview with the judging panel. It was good being able to share my experience of Norbrook and how I work with apprentices to develop their confidence and skills. In addition, a film production crew came to the workplace and recorded me at work. This was a surreal experience, very different to what I am used to but a great experience nonetheless.
If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Do the apprenticeship – it is a fantastic opportunity as you learn and earn from day one, but also work hard and learn as much as you can from the people who have gone before you. Show an interest in what you are doing, be engaged, do the legwork and you will travel far!