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Five minutes with: Brad Makinson – our newly promoted academy manager


As part of our new ‘five minutes with’’ blog series, we talk to our academy manager, Brad Makinson, on how he worked his way up through the Sim Trava business – from a team member, to becoming an integral part of Sim Trava’s Academy team. 

I began working with Sim Trava in September 2010 at the Prestwich store, where I stayed for nine months. I was very eager to learn throughout my time there and get working on the coffee machine.

I quickly progressed to barista level and passed my training and induction period. This gave me the determination and drive to want to find out what the next step on my journey would be and how to get there. My manager told me that I would be able to attend the barista maestro training programme in Leeds, which I completed in January 2011 and led to my promotion to barista maestro level.

Some months later, I applied for an assistant manager position at the Prestwich store but was unfortunately unsuccessful on this occasion. The senior managers told me that I needed more experience before a promotion. With that in mind, they transferred me to the Bury Rock store in June 2011.

The Rock store was a whole other world; fast-paced, busy, loud and exciting – I was in my element. After six months there, I applied for an assistant manager position, and this time I got the job! In this role, I was able to learn more about the admin side of the business and had the opportunity to develop my managerial skills. I learnt how to communicate with, train and coach different characters according to each of their own individual learning styles.

I held the position as assistant manager for over a year before taking part in Costa’s Barista of the Year Competition 2011, reaching the UK final. A year later, I was named Costa’s assistant manager of the year for individual franchise, for my efforts in the BOY competition and the positive impact I had had on the Rock store.

Disappointed I had been beaten in the 2011 barista of the year competition, I re-entered in 2012 but this time I had another full years’ experience behind me! This experience paid off as I progressed past the stage I had reached the previous year, making it all the way to the global final – The Champion of Champions. Unfortunately, I was pipped to the post, but I was still incredibly proud to have represented The Rock, my managers, Sim Trava and the whole of the individual franchise community at the world final.

After my success in the competition I was asked to help coach and train new starters within the business. This was the initial development of our “Welcome to Sim Trava Day” programme, during which new team members are taught about our customer service standards and shown how to make the perfect coffee. This was the beginning point of Sim Trava’s development of the “Academy Team”, although it wasn’t branded as such until two years’ later. At the same time, I also helped mentor our company champion for the next two barista of the year competitions.

In January 2013, the manager of the Rock store left so I applied for the store manager position – and was successful! This was a position I held for over three years and in this role I was able to build on my skill set including time management and interpersonal skills.

During my time as manager, I officially joined the Sim Trava Academy team and completed a qualification called “Train the Trainer”. At the same time, I also studied to become a qualified NVQ Assessor.

In May 2016, I was appointed academy manager for Sim Trava. Training has always been my passion and Sim Trava has given me the tools and opportunities I needed to realise and fulfil my full potential. The future looks bright for the Sim Trava Academy and I can’t wait to get stuck in to my new role – developing the Academy into the centre of excellence I know it can be.

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