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Kerry Bowyer, BPIF Training Co-ordinatorKerry Bowyer, BPIF Training Co-ordinator

November 2018

It was 1989 and the security of my school days were coming to an end, it was time to start making some serious decisions about what future I wanted.

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Ceri Priddle
Ceri Priddle
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Ian Wilton, Oxuniprint Managing Director

Ian Wilton, Oxuniprint Managing Director

I was born at 9:25pm on 13th March 1971. I had a pretty uneventful childhood - it was a time when you could play down the park in the dark, as all you had at home was three channels on the TV to watch or board games to play.

I went to primary school at Glory Farm in Bicester (yes, the clothes Village, which didn't exist back then). I liked school and loved sports. This carried on into secondary school and because I liked it I did well. It was O Levels back then and I was so good at Maths that I took the exam a year early. I then did a further 8 O levels the following year.

Although I liked school, it was during the time of my exams that I realised I did not want to stay on at school - but I had no idea what I wanted to do. Luckily, we had a school careers advisor and she spoke to me about people in the local area that wanted apprentices. I had no idea what this was and she explained that most of them were for City & Guilds qualifications that you worked for over a 2 to 3 year period, whilst working at your employer and getting paid. It sounded great!

Three job interviews came up:

1. Goodhead Press (a web offset printer)

2. REME (Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers with the British Army)

3. Reynard Racing

The first interview I had was with REME and it was awful. I had no interview experience and they gave me a test at the end. Straight away, I knew I had flunked. The second interview I had was with Reynard Racing. I thought this interview went much better, but I never heard back from them. My third interview was with Goodhead Press and was great. By this time, I thought I was seasoned pro! I was interviewed by the Operations Manager, Ken Webb, who I still have fond memories of today. Two more interviews with Goodhead followed and then I got the job.

My apprenticeship was tough - one day a week at Reading College on day release, then the rest of the week at work learning on the job. It was a scary time - you got all the jobs that no-one else wanted and working with big web machines running out 20-30,000 copies an hour. We were paid weekly and when I got my first wage packet of £84.10, I was over the moon, even if all the notes had staple holes in them!

College was great - learning completely different things to my day job and running small Heidelberg GTO and Heidelberg Platten printing machines to do all my coursework on. Happy days!

After three years, I passed my City & Guilds qualification with 2 credits in printing and computer studies. I was put on an Albert machine (a 32pp combination heatset and webset press) as a No.2 when I had finished  my time as an apprentice. I soon became a No.1, which was a position I held for about 5 years before a shift supervisor retired and I was asked if I would like the position - which I accepted. 

I did this job for the next ten years and saw a lot of change within the web industry. We started doing more magazines, rather than newspapers, and pre-press became more computerised with CTP.

After nineteen years with the business, a lot of change in the web market, and quite a lot of redundancy, I took voluntary redundancy. This was a tough decision for me and my family, but I felt the time was right to change my career path.

After 6 weeks at home with my daughter through the summer holidays, I decided I had better get a new job! An old colleague of mine said his employer, Oxuniprint, was looking for a print production manager and suggested I apply. I had two interviews and got the job.

Oxuniprint is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oxford University Press, which, in turn, is a department of the University of Oxford. At last, a print company with the same work ethos and values as me - training, good health & safety, succession planning, investments - everything a good business needs. 

There were 29 engaged staff in the basement of OUP's head office in Great Clarendon Street and in 2007 we moved to a purpose-built factory in Kidlington and designed our own workflow through the factory. In 2009, the Operations Director resigned and it seemed a natural progression. There followed more training, a higher profile, and more responsibility - I loved it!

Then, in 2012, the Managing Director left and I applied for the position, which I got. Who would have thought 30 years' ago when I started my print apprenticeship that I would be here now, MD of a company with 23 employees, turning over £3million and part of one of the most well-known and recognisable institutes in the world, Oxford University?

Print has served me well and has given me a very good career and life. I am now looking to serve print well and love the industry I am in. Who knows where life will take you? Gain knowledge, train hard, work harder, and follow your instinct and your dreams, and who knows what you might achieve? 

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