10th March 2022

NCW2022 – Meet John Burden, Supervisor Driver

What is your role?

Supervisor Driver

Describe your job in three words?

Challenging, enjoyable, rewarding

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy being out on-site, helping the teams to deliver a successful project, I often go back to projects throughout, so it’s great to watch them develop.

No two days are the same, I’m sent to all different areas whilst on the job, sometimes completing a long drive, other days it’s more local deliveries. And when you’re in your own vehicle, you are your own boss (to a certain extent).

Nothing beats being able to do a job you dreamt of when pushing your toy trucks along the floor as a child!

What skills do you need to succeed in your role?

Excellent driving and road safety skills, communication and people skills, ability to work on your own and use your own initiative, as well as time management and good planning skills – common sense is also key!

What education or training do you need for your role?

Becoming an HGV driver is easy; however, you do need to undergo a few tests before you can get behind the wheel.

Firstly, you need to be over the age of 18 and have a full car licence (category B). Then you will need to complete an HGV medical and apply for a provisional lorry driver’s licence.

Once you’ve done this, you can start your HGV driving lessons, you are still required to pass a more in-depth driving theory and practical test and take a couple more tests to gain your driver certificate of professional competence qualification

Once that is all done you are ready to hit the road!

What does an average week look like for you?

A typical week usually consists of driving to the yard to pick up my lorry ready to start the week, my days can last anywhere up to 15 hours and will see me pick up and drop off loads such as heavy piling equipment to various sites across the country. Before returning to a base and then commuting back home.

Why did you choose a career in construction?

Driving has always been a passion for me so getting to drive behind a big vehicle is, of course, my dream role! AlthoughI didn’t necessarily choose construction, it was a family member who inspired me to take up HGV driving, and I fell into the industry. I wouldn’t want to work for any other industry now, there’s never a dull day in construction!

What is one thing you’ve learnt about the industry, which surprised you?

A lot of HGV drivers I know are in other sectors and tend to be queuing up for several hours some days waiting to be unloaded and can be sat for hours twiddling their thumbs. My role here at Van Elle is very hands-on and I get to be a lot more involved, interacting with various people on site, the work is also really varied, and I feel part of the team.

Tell us about your career journey so far?

I started lorry driving at the age of 18 and have worked for various haulage and construction companies before joining Van Elle in 2005.

What advice would you give to somebody looking to get into the industry?

I’d say work for a company that delivers their own gear, for its own purpose like Van Elle.

Starting a driving career in general haulage isn’t for the faint-hearted!

What are your career aspirations?

I really enjoy what I do but I’d like to go into Planning, I defiantly think with my knowledge and experience I could add a lot of value.

Do you feel like you’re making a difference in your job?

Yes, I play a key role in the delivery of jobs. The teams are always appreciative of what we do as it can sometimes be quite challenging.

What is the best bit of advice you have for someone looking to move into this role?

Be prepared to start from the bottom and work your way up, a good understanding of the heavy haulage industry and knowledge of equipment is good to have, but if you are happy to learn and take advice when you’re not sure from us who have the experience, you’ll do alright. Like any other job it can be challenging at times, but it’s very rewarding. Nothing beats hearing “you won’t get that down there” and proving them wrong.

Unfortunately attracting new HGV drivers into the industry is proving a tricky task, but if working 9-5 stuck behind a desk or factory isn’t for you and you’re looking for a change then becoming an HGV driver might be for you.

Often people think it’s a lonely job, but Van Elle is really supportive of its HGV drivers, and we do get the chance to meet and mingle with lots of new people all over the country thanks to the regular travel.

A career in driving gives you the freedom to get out and explore the country!

Visit our careers page for more information on Van Elle opportunities.