James McColgan, 29, from Crayford, is a local resident and long-serving engineer at Coca-Cola Enterprises’ Sidcup factory, where some of Coca-Cola Great Britain’s most popular drinks are made. He’s also the star of Coca-Cola Enterprises’ new ‘Made in GB’ campaign, which celebrates the bottler’s local heritage with a set of regional adverts. 

James, whose official title is Asset Care Coordinator, joins two young apprentices from Coca-Cola Enterprises’ Kilbride factory, and a team leader from its Business Support Centre in Peterborough, as the company’s ‘local heroes'. These are the guys who make up the 4,000 and some workforce for the factories based in Great Britain, for one of the world’s most recognised global brands.

The advert puts James in the spotlight, and offers first-hand insights from the 13-year-long employee about his experience working for the company in Sidcup. The series will continue over the course of 2016, and feature more ‘local heroes’ from across Coca-Cola Enterprises’ manufacturing sites in England, Scotland and Wales.  

“We are extremely proud to be a truly local business in Sidcup and have close ties with the community,” said Steve Adams, Group Operations Director at Coca-Cola Enterprises. “I’m delighted that James has had the opportunity to be involved in a campaign that celebrates this as well as his important and long-standing role at the site.”

Taking a break from the photoshoot, James sat down to answer a few questions about his career at Coca-Cola Enterprises, and what he loves about working at the Sidcup factory.

How near to the factory did you grow up? Do you still live close by?
I grew up round the corner in Greenwich although moved to Crayford in Kent around four years ago, but I’m still a local lad at heart.

What attracted to you to working in engineering?
I knew from a pretty young age that I wanted to work in manufacturing, and in particular, at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) as both my aunt and uncle have worked at the factory for a combined 60 years! It meant growing up I heard a lot about CCE and its presence within Sidcup so I’ve always heard about how it’s a great place to work.

Did you always want to work in engineering, or did you pursue it later on?
Engineering has always been an industry that’s attracted me because of my family connection. Thinking back though, at 16 I don’t think I was fully aware what I was entering into and it wasn’t until I first walked through the doors and saw the scale of the operations here that it really hit me – it did have a bit of a wow factor.

When did you join?
I started working with CCE here at Sidcup 13 years ago when I was 16 and I’ve been here ever since. I joined the site straight from an Advanced Modern Mechanical apprenticeship and have moved through lots of different roles to where I am today as an Asset Care Coordinator. I spent my first five years in apprenticeships, really getting to grips with engineering and the different skills it requires before moving to a role as a mechanical engineer. I then became a Team Leader before moving into my current role which I’ve been in for the past three years.

Tell us a bit about your role and what it involves?
In terms of what I do day to day, it’s all focused around looking after and maintaining our seven production lines. I usually cover two or three and assist the line operators in ensuring they’re running smoothly or, if there is a fault, helping to get it fixed and back up and running as soon as possible. You start to develop a sixth sense for how things should sound or feel when you walk along the line!

How well known is Coca-Cola Enterprises in the local area?
The site’s incredibly well known within the local community. When you’re out and about and I say I work at CCE, people know the factory. Everyone in some shape or form has a link with it. You just have to look out the windows to see how closely rooted it is within the local area.

Do you feel there’s a growing awareness around the opportunities for younger people with the engineering and manufacturing sector?
I have a few friends with younger siblings and I think there’s a mix of knowledge about the opportunities on offer. I think awareness about manufacturing as an exciting sector to work in is definitely increasing, but there’s still a way to go in helping younger people understand all the different directions you can take when joining a business like CCE.

What are your aspirations for your career at CCE?
I’m currently working towards moving from a coordinator to a system supervisor. This would mean taking on more responsibility as you’re in charge of the maintenance of the lines by becoming more of a machine specialist. It also gives you more contact with contractors outside of CCE, again giving you more responsibility in bringing in improvements or new machinery.

What made you interested in taking part in the advertising?
I’m one of the engagement champions on site for Sidcup so I’m really passionate about getting people involved in helping to make the site a better place. I guess it comes from spending half my life here! I’m therefore really proud to be involved in something that’ll show others what my aunt and uncle showed me; that fantastic opportunities are sitting on your doorstep.

Did you enjoy the photo-shoot?
It’s been really fun, although I’m sure the guys will tease me for posing on the lines when I’m back in tomorrow. It’s hard to say what it’ll be like seeing the final adverts in the paper – all I know is I’ll be able to judge how it’s gone down by the texts from my friends!