Let's Meet: Ben Thompson
Ben Thompson joined Vattenfall Heat UK as an Engineering Manager this April. We caught up with him over Teams from his native town of Sheffield to discuss what's driven him to become an engineer, his hobbies and more.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
In my younger days, I wanted to be an Apache Attack helicopter pilot, from playing Team Apache when I was a kid! Then, later on, I wanted to be a policeman, like my Dad.
What's your career path been like that's led you here?
I was on a 4-year apprenticeship with my previous employer, with energy recovery and district heating. Over 4 years I had time to see how things worked on a practical level, and it tailored the way I wanted to go in the future.
I saw district heating as this great thing that serves a city and delivers low carbon heat - I thought it was fantastic, so that's the avenue that I took. It really interested me - I thought it was a great concept, so that's what steered me. When I saw the opportunity to work on a new network with Vattenfall Heat UK, I went for it.
Were you always into engineering?
The reason engineering appealed to me is my grandad had a garage where he did a lot of work and repaired his car and things. So I would always go into his garage and we'd make something, or we'd take something apart. I think that's where the interest stemmed from. So I've always wanted to do something around engineering and 'how things work'.
How do you explain what you do?
My job is to manage the technical aspects for the low carbon solutions. With projects in Scotland for example, it's reaching out to suppliers, to designers, managing the in-house team - working with project development engineers to find solutions that are viable and the best that we can do.
How does your partner explain what you do?
She says I look at pipes in the ground!
What do you like to do in your downtime?
I've always enjoyed walking - we've got the Peak District nearby here in Sheffield, which is nice. And since lockdown has eased, I've been mountain biking at the weekends. We're also keen on travelling.
Where are some memorable places you've been travelling?
Walking in New Zealand was amazing. It's one of those places where you come over a hill and you go 'Oh wow, look at this view', and then you turn a corner and you're like 'Ah look at this!'. Japan was also really great. The scenery is brilliant and the people were so welcoming and friendly. They wouldn't hesitate to come over and help if they could see we were lost.
Lastly, what's something not a lot of people know about you?
I'm partial to a fried spam, egg, cheese and tomato ketchup sandwich.