R&D profile: Andy Trowsdale

Andy Trowsdale joined our Research and Development (R&D) team in 1995. Since then, he's worked in a range of business areas and has now taken up the post of Head of R&D. Discover more about Andy's journey, why he thinks the steel industry is awesome and his hopes for the future...

What's your current role at British Steel?

Our R&D team is here to support British Steel and our customers with their current and future needs. My role is to help provide the team with direction, allowing us to learn quickly, determine where we can add value and to ensure the fundamental facilities are in place to exploit the knowledge in the organisation. 

When did you join British Steel and what have you've done since?

I joined British Steel's R&D department back in 1995 after 10 years at university and now find myself back in the R&D fold. Among my first roles in R&D was developing models and understanding of product metallurgy. In the years before 'coming home', I’ve worked in the Wire Rod, Plates, Rail and Sections businesses as well as with the Steelmaking department throughout. What I learnt in those first few years and the people I worked with have always been a supporting foundation for the different roles and challenges faced since.

What skills and experience do you bring to your role?

A willingness to challenge perceived wisdom, to delve into the details and a desire to address barriers that have prevented progress. There are improvements that can be made in the way we do things and this provides me with new challenges every day. There is nothing that can’t be done with the right inspiration and support of those around us!

Why do you enjoy working at British Steel?

I think we tend to forget the industry in which we work is phenomenal. Lack of some historic profitability means it is not seen as glamorous or a current technology fashion for the general public, yet it's a core foundation of every aspect of modern life.

Just imagine the reaction to someone suggesting developing a new industry where:

  • you will be required to move around 300-tonne buckets of liquid metal at temperatures that would vaporise most of the things we deal with in our daily life
  • these 300-tonne batches will require chemistries controlled to parts per million
  • you will need to heat material up to volcano lava temperatures and move it around in pieces that are the weight of a bus while shaping it to engineering tolerances
  • you will also need to send your produces out to customers in straight pieces over 200m long!

And sometimes, we take this all for granted!

What is your proudest achievement?

There are so many things in my British Steel career that make me proud. Seeing things that have been built with our material always fills me with joy. Rail is fantastic for this - there is a wonderfully embossed brand on every rail (I helped improve the processes for British Steel's rail branding) that shows the grade together with where and when it was made. I stand on the side of a platform or at a level crossing and can say 'I helped make that!'

When I started at the Scunthorpe Rail & Section Mill, Technical Manager AJ Wilson told me rail would get under my skin - apparently, he was correct.

What do you hope the future holds at British Steel?

There is a huge amount of talent in our organisation. I hope that with Jingye’s support and commitment, we can make a real success of this business where that talent is allowed to prosper and flourish for this and the following generations. 

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a 'little bit' pedantic when it comes to technical terminology. The details really matter!

What advice would you give to other people considering a career at British Steel?

Go for it! The business and processes are truly awe inspiring; the opportunities are limitless. You will make friends for life, be challenged and have fun on the way!