A Working Day for Nick Cook

Technical and Operations Director

Nick reaches his 10 year anniversary within the automotive industry this year. His time in the business has seen him progress through a variety of engineering functions and positions to co-founder and director of USE*.

Nick began his career with an industrial placement year at PDD Ltd as a design engineer in 1997. This formed part of his Product Design Visualisation degree at Bournemouth University which he completed in 1999. From here he entered the automotive sector as a design engineer within Ford’s Diesel Engineering department specialising in CAD design. Moving on, he took up a number of consulting positions specialising in CAD, product data and lifecycle management working across a variety of automotive OEM clients and working in various European locations. In 2006 he founded USE* (from 2006 to 2009 called UK Service Evolution) with co-founder and fellow director, Jonathan Quaife.

My position is a little different to most within the company in that it’s split 60/40 between operational engagements and company business. I spend three days a week on-site at Nissan’s European R&D Centre in Cranfield, Milton Keynes managing our team there. My other two days are spent on USE* company based activities which cover a wide range of projects and tasks from management reviews and project meetings through to responding to client and site visits to see our operational teams.
My 40% company based activities are usually on Mondays and Fridays where I am often based from home unless visiting clients or any of our operational teams. Typically if working from home I will roll out of bed at about 7am and sit straight down at my laptop with a cup of tea and a slice of toast immersing myself in email and my task list to review what I need to achieve before the end of the day. There could be any number of activities I need to attend to which normally involve meetings based around our client projects, financial reviews and addressing any requests from the management team or wider USE* family. We run our meetings in virtual space and make very good use of online collaboration tools and IP telephony meaning that I can take part in a management review without leaving my study. This helps to bring to together our entire management team who are geographically spread across the UK.

Currently, I have been spending some time arranging company cars and working on our rebranding project which sees UK Service Evolution transform to USE*. This involves weekly dialogue and reviews between Last Exit (the digital strategy and media company that we are working with), our internal management team and the wider USE* team to review all elements of the branding from design layouts around logos to web content and case studies.

On Friday this week I am attending a client meeting with Jonathan at Ford’s Dunton Engineering Development Centre in Essex. This is to discuss some potential opportunities to grow our business within Ford. During the visit we will also take the opportunity to drop in on our current Ford team and Simon Eames who is running the project.

Today I am on site at Nissan which means I’m up at 5:30am and in the car for 6:00am in order to battle my way through the M25 traffic and roadworks which normally comes with an accident or two thrown in for good measure. I normally arrive at my desk at about 7:30am and spend my first half an hour catching up on email and any outstanding user support calls.

The rest of the team trickle in between 7:45 and 8:00 at which point I will grab a cup of tea and have a quick levelling meeting with Don Gardiner who is team leader for our on-site operations. Once he’s primed me with any new information pertaining to projects and team activities I have a 9am project meeting. This is normally an hour long and involves everyone representing their current project activities to Nissan management.

My time on-site usually involves a weekly meeting cadence with various Nissan Europe staff to discuss topics ranging from operational issues and project statuses through to supporting the implementation of new technologies.

Once the meeting is finished I spend some time to look at our resourcing in relation to up and coming project milestones and new project start dates to ensure that we will be able to manage the workload coming our way. In the hour before lunch I had a quick check on our reporting stats for GDS (Global Data Exchange) to ensure that we had been meeting our SLA targets for the month which looked very good. After a brief discussion with Jeetendra Shakya, one of our PDM consultants, I headed off for lunch and a bit of fresh air.

This afternoon I we have a team meeting which usually lasts for about an hour and gives the entire team a good opportunity to discuss all elements of our work for the week including project and operational tasks as well as discussing where and when we will hold out next team social event.

Today when I finish at Nissan I am travelling to London to meet with my business partner Jonathan for dinner. We often take time in the evening to discuss progressing projects which we currently have on the boil. The travel time on the train will give me about 30 minutes to catch up and respond to any company related emails and tasks. How did people survive before the smartphone?

I’m planning on catching the 9:45pm train back to Milton Keynes and on the way back I’ll spend some time contemplating certain tasks and projects that I am working on (there is always plenty of time for this when travelling).

I feel very fortunate to be in a position which offers me day to day interactions with what can only be described as an exceptional team of people who all work very hard. My job is extremely varied and can be very rewarding. I have a great feeling of pride for the team and environment that we have within the company and it’s very rewarding to watch the people within it growing.

Meet Our Team

Jonathan Quaife

Jonathan Quaife

USE* Managing Director
Nick Cook

Nick Cook

USE* Technical and Operations Director

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