Graduates & Students

Insight into Engineering at Highland Spring

Craig and Douglas are 3 months in to their graduate placements at a leading Scottish company. We found out more about their roles...

Published: 14/09/2016

In July 2016, Highland Spring took on two graduates through ScotGrad to work at their HQ in Perthshire. Bottling an impressive 470 million litres a year, and with a £100m turnover, Highland Spring has grown year-on-year since its origins in the 1970s. Craig Nicholson and Douglas Ferguson were successful in being offered 12 month roles with this leading company, both starting barely days after graduation!

After achieving a 2:1 Beng (Hons) Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Edinburgh Napier University, Craig was excited to start his role as a Graduate Improvement Engineer.

“This role is directly relevant to the degree I studied at university, and I was looking forward to getting stuck in. I’ve been here for 3 months now and I’m really enjoying the experience. My placement means I get to work with a range of people in the Production and Maintenance teams. The key aim of this role is to drive improved line performance and deliver the targeted KPIs for the line. I also have the opportunity to carry out Commercial & Capability Analysis on business proposals which gives me real insight into how the sector is developing.”


 Craig and Douglas

 (L-R) Craig Nicholson and Douglas Ferguson at the ScotGrad Training Course


Douglas began his role at the same time as Craig, after graduating from The University of Dundee with a first class honours in Mechanical Engineering.

“I gained experience in a number of areas whilst studying, including travelling to San Francisco to undertake an incredible 12-week internship through The Saltire Foundation. During my time there I worked on a vast array of projects ranging from R&D to design for manufacture and supply chain management. My graduate position with Highland Spring is a great chance to build on my previous experience and learn more about the industry.”

The ScotGrad team met Craig and Douglas at our training course, where we had the chance to put them under the spotlight for 60 seconds. Here’s what we learnt…


What are the best bits about your placement?

Craig: “It’s a well-known UK company that sticks to their roots. There’s a great family culture. I also enjoy that there are several locations/sites to travel to.”

Douglas: “There is a huge scope with regards to potential improvements we can make. The business is very transparent, allowing knowledge to be picked up from all sectors. We work with very friendly colleagues too.”


What 3 top skills or qualities are important in your role?

Craig: “Innovation, analytical skills, and engineering experience.”

Douglas: “Able to present ideas, mechanical knowledge, and communication skills.”


What are you excited to learn on your placement?

Craig: “I’ve still got another 9 months on this placement, and I’m excited to learn more about engineering and manufacturing techniques (e.g. lean, six sigma). There’s also the opportunity to enhance my project management skills.”

Douglas: “I’m really interested in learning more about the general running of a successful business. This includes learning more about the business side to an engineer’s role. I’m also looking forward to gaining more experience with manufacturing processes.”


Do you have any advice for other graduates?

Craig: “Prepare as much as possible. Approach each opportunity with an open mind. I didn’t see myself working in this sector of engineering but I now enjoy it and would like to pursue a career here.”

Douglas: “Do as much preparation for applications and interviews as you can. It is important to be knowledgeable about the company you are applying to. However, be yourself, ask questions and most importantly enjoy the experience.”



Interested in kick starting your own career? Check out our latest paid placements here.