Meet the Team: Jim Donnelly, Senior Utilities Trainer

   29 September 2023         Blogs

On this month’s Meet the Team blog, we’re introducing our Senior Utilities Training Officer, Jim Donnelly.

Jim’s career journey began straight after leaving school when he joined a local authority to work within the construction field. He later joined British Gas as a Distribution Trainee, where he climbed the career ladder to take on several different roles including Assistant Distribution Fitter and Distribution Fitter during his 20 years with the company.

A long career in the gas industry

During his two decades, Jim worked on a number of large-scale construction projects as well as a series of emergency works and schemes. By the end of his time there he was working as a Main Layer.

Looking for a new challenge, Jim joined Develop back in July 2005 as a Trainee Trainer and has recently celebrated his 18-year anniversary with the company.

After taking on a range of managerial roles within the business, Jim is now a Senior Training Officer who provides compliance training for professionals working in the gas industry. His main areas of expertise are gas distribution, service laying and main laying. However, he also teaches a range of health & safety courses, and IOSH training, including the IOSH Managing Safely (IOSHMS) and IOSH Working Safely (IOSHWS) courses.

Alongside teaching, he also offers support to other trainers in the business, as well as the Utilities Delivery Manager, and he is responsible for working with delegates to help them build their portfolios.

Whilst Jim is based primarily at Develop’s training centre in Derby, his work takes him on the road to visit locations throughout the UK and he has recently spent a lot of time working on projects in Northern Ireland.

Training Terrace

Jim was heavily involved in the development of Develop’s Joint Emergency Training Set (JETSET), Training Terrace, a fully to-scale artificial street designed to safely recreate emergency response scenarios. Training Terrace allows delegates to simulate the experience of what it’s like to respond to a gas leak in a realistic yet secure environment and is located at our York centre.

An integral part of the Training Terrace project alongside Darren Hill and Daryll Garavan, Jim was able to share his knowledge and expertise and met with architects and designers to provide insight on what the needs of the gas industry were and how Develop could meet them with the new training facility.  

Highlights at Develop

Jim believes that his extensive career background allows him to relate to delegates when sharing his own life experiences and he enjoys reflecting on some of his highlights at the company to date.

Jim expands upon the importance of his background, explaining, “In the training world, establishing a genuine connection with the delegates by drawing from one’s own real-life experiences is truly invaluable. When they realise that I’ve walked the same path and have hands-on experience ‘in the trenches,’ so to speak, it garners a deep respect for my expertise. This connection not only facilitates the training process but also encourages delegates to pose questions they might hesitate to ask someone who hasn’t undergone the same experiences on the job.”

During the first few years at Develop, Jim delivered training to young offender students who could benefit from a new start with a career in the industry. A few years later, Jim was attending a trade show when he was approached by a man that he did not immediately recognise, who shook Jim’s hand and introduced himself. The man turned out to be one of the students that Jim had trained all those years ago and inspired by Jim’s training, the man became greatly interested in the gas industry, and went on to start his own business.

Worldwide travel

Another highlight is one of Jim’s favourite projects that he worked on in 2014. He was asked to join a project team on a visit to Israel where he worked with Pazgas, an energy company that markets liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in the country.

The project allowed him to work closely with employees at the company to identify their training needs and on return to the UK he worked with an external trainer to devise a training plan and materials that could be delivered company wide. Certainly an interesting and unique experience to be remembered!

Further resources

Visit our Resource Centre for a range of materials to help you plan and manage your utility training needs.

Visit our Gas Distribution page to see our full range of gas training courses.

Professional accreditations