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Mentoring students brought great results for engineering boss

Award-winning Chesterfield company Thermotex has a new engineer onboard.

Thanks to its boss taking the time to mentor students. MD Chloe Watmore was asked by the University of Sheffield to set a real-time challenge for its Management School to tackle. She jumped at the chance to bring fresh new ideas into her business while helping students learn.

The project was an all-round success. Students on the international module of their MBA gained invaluable experience. And Chloe gained not only a new company strategy for developing overseas markets – but also a Texan mechanical engineer. MBA graduate Paige Niehues has joined the thermal solutions specialist as Commercial and Technical Executive. She has years of experience in the oil and gas sector, a core specialism for Thermotex.

The award-winning 24-year-old company custom-designs high-performance insulation jackets and heat tracing systems relied on for temperature control by companies around the globe – from oil and gas refineries in the Arctic Circle to international construction companies and UK chocolate factories.

Chloe said: “The Management School invited me to bring a live business issue to students. We have exported for many years, but we want to establish new overseas markets and asked four groups of students to research this and come up with strategies. I was really impressed and developed a company strategy which merged all four.

“Paige was in one of the groups. She reached out to me while working on her dissertation on the digitalisation of manufacturing, which Thermotex is heavily invested in.

“I worked with her and she so impressed me I offered her a job. She is now implementing the new overseas growth strategy she helped to create.”

Chloe joined the company her parents founded in 1995 as a 20-year-old Economics graduate. She revolutionised factory processes, grew international trade and led the company to record growth.

Chloe added: “Working with the University of Sheffield was extremely rewarding. We have pledged to continue this partnership and I would urge other businesses to get involved. It’s an opportunity to provide students with exciting, real-world case studies and to bring smart, creative new ideas into your business.”

Chloe has now asked this year’s students to assist Thermotex in expanding its manufacturing presence overseas.

New recruit Paige began her career in Houston as a product design engineer with a large oil and gas company. She moved to the UK after meeting her future husband at her employers’ manufacturing plant in Leeds and enrolled at the University of Sheffield to study for an MBA in 2017.

Paige commented: “When Chloe came to my university she really impressed me, I am thrilled to now be working for her. Thermotex is an exciting place to be. The company is constantly striving to embrace new tech, improve processes and grow exports and partnerships.

“I’m enjoying applying my past engineering experience with what I learned in my MBA. and helping the company to grow.”

Dr Vasilios Theoharakis, Director of MBA Programmes at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted with Paige’s success in securing a role at Thermotex, which came as a result of working on a company-based project while attending the Sheffield MBA.

“Such projects enhance student experience, and this one allowed Thermotex to recognise Paige’s talent, which resulted in her recruitment. With an average of around 10 years of work experience, Sheffield MBA students are equipped to add value to the businesses they work with.”

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