Workstation power and connectivity is increasingly important for commercial interiors. With the need for agile working and hot desking, the proliferation of mobile devices that require USB charging, and the potential to integrate wireless charging with workstation furniture, innovation in workstation power requires a varied array of talents and job roles to bring concepts to market.
One company that is nurturing talent by providing opportunities for career development is CMD Ltd. The company is attracting a new generation of employees for disciplines as diverse as manufacturing and product design, and here we find out how two of them made it into their roles.
Designs On A Career In Office Interiors
As a product designer at CMD, Kerry Dry works collaboratively with the company’s technical and sales departments as part of an R&D team that combines market insight with customer feedback, commercial considerations, and aesthetics to create innovative new products.
“I’ve always had a creative eye and studied product design at the University of Northampton,” explains Kerry. “I worked for an interiors and furniture design company while I was a student and got a job working for an architectural aluminium system house after graduation, before moving north to join CMD Ltd three years ago. Since then, I have honed my talents with design, from initial concept, right through to a finished product.”
It’s clear that Kerry was always destined for a role in product design because she has such a flair for understanding materials and incorporating technical, practical and aesthetic considerations in her designs. But even with her clear talent, she has had to fight against stereotyping and misconceptions along the way.
“Growing up, I was given lots of so-called advice about how it was ‘impractical’ or ‘unrealistic’ to pursue a career in design,” she continues, “and I was often told I should focus on a finding a ‘real’ job. But, to me, there is no job more real than design. Everything around us has been designed by somebody. The chairs we sit on, the tools and devices we use. If anything, this discouragement just amplified my passion to be a designer.”
Currently, Kerry is taking the lead on several projects, ranging from on-desk power and connectivity solutions to floor products for power distribution installations.
“We have recently seen the successful launch of the Reach Plus Monitor Arm,” she says, “which I am proud to have worked on at CMD. We wanted to create a product that was functional but also discreet, so I tapped into my profile extrusion knowledge and created a design that would deliver that.”
From Office Job To Factory Floor
While it’s Kerry’s job to work on the team that determines the aesthetics and functionality of CMD’s products, her colleague Carly is one of the team that ensures CMD’s products are made correctly, with full quality assurance checks, aligned to the company’s ISO 9001 certification.
Like Kerry, Carly was initially dissuaded from her chosen career path, and actually began her working life as an HR supervisor, before changing direction when she joined CMD.
“At school I’d wanted to go into mechanical engineering,” Carly explains, “but was discouraged because I was a girl, and I ended up taking a very conventional route into an office job. I didn’t mind the role, but it was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to do something more hands-on, so applied for a job in the factory where my dad and my uncle worked.”
Carly’s first role at CMD was in the production department making floor boxes for electrical installations.
“People assume that if you work on a production line you’ll be doing boring, repetitive work,” Carly explains, “but, in my experience, that’s not the case at all. I learned new skills from day one, getting to grips with the technical aspects of production. One of the things I loved from the outset is that no two days are the same. CMD is an agile business that makes products to order, often tailoring the exact specification to meet the customer’s requirements, so my role was very varied from the beginning.”
When Carly caught COVID 19, she was forced to take several weeks off work and the experience made her more focused than ever on progressing her career.
“I spoke to my manager and asked her if I could learn more aspects of the manufacturing operation,” Carly explains. I was given opportunities to work on several other production lines and then promoted to work in the metal shop.”
One of the aspects of Carly’s role that works well from her is her shift patterns, which involve a 6am – 2pm schedule one week, followed by a 2pm – 10pm shift the next.
“The hours mean I have plenty of daytime free time to get things done at home,” she says, “and when I am on an early shift I can go away for the weekend mid-afternoon on a Friday and come back Monday lunchtime without taking any leave. I’m really keen on motorsports so my schedule allows me to travel round the country every fortnight to follow my hobby.”
As a business, CMD understands the importance of encouraging colleagues to work across departments to develop both the innovation and the quality that the office interiors market needs.
Stephen Roberts, head of sales at CMD adds: “Fundamentally, we know that a motivated team of people who love what they do will make us a customer-focused company that’s great at what we do.”
Contact CMD on the BCFA Product Finder
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