Susan MacDonald
I think I can easily say that all my chemical background and knowledge comes from The Coatings Training Institute.
Modules undertaken
L2 201 General Overview of Coatings
L2 206 Surface Preparation
L2 209 Paint and Ink Application

Susan MacDonald

Assistant Category Manager PPG Architectural Coatings
PPG Architectural Coatings

When PPG’s Susan MacDonald and a colleague decided they needed more of a technical background for their work as category managers, not only did the management get involved in sourcing the right modules from The Coatings Training Institute, they also established a template for future employees’ training.

“One of our managers contacted The Coatings Training Institute and between them they came up with a three module course for us,” explains Susan. “Those three modules together now combine to make the Certificate in Coatings Technology for PPG – and the company uses it all the time now. That all started from us saying that we needed more. A full City & Guilds would have been too much for what we needed, but this was just perfect.”

Susan found that she immediately had a considerable amount of knowledge that she could apply to her daily work. “Because we had learnt, for example, how paints are made and how you should apply them, when a customer came forward with a problem – you know, that it has bubbled or the like – you can find out what the customer has done and work out where the issue is coming from.

“I think I can easily say that all my chemical background and knowledge comes from The Coatings Training Institute.”

For Susan, The Coatings Training Institute training modules opened up a whole world of understanding and paved the way for a few surprises – not least in terms of what she did next. When asked whether she would be studying any more with The Coatings Training Institute, she responded with a categorical ‘no’.

“I’ve moved over to the marketing department now and I am studying this at university, but if I’d stayed at the old job, I certainly would have done more. The guy who took my place as a category manager is now studying for the PPG Certificate I did and I can safely say that studying with The Coatings Training Institute helped me climb the ladder – just in a different direction than I thought.”

For her work on the modules she took (General Overview of Coatings, Surface Preparation, and Paint and Ink Application) Susan received straight distinctions in all three, which made her The Coatings Training Institute’s Student of the Year in 2011.

“I enjoy learning,” she said. “I have done it all my life, but these modules gave me a real confidence boost,” adding with a wry laugh: “Although I hope I haven’t set too high a benchmark for others.”

Glenn Scott
The training gives you a belief and a confidence when you are explaining things to others
Modules undertaken
L2 201 General Overview of Coatings
L2 202 Media and Solvents
L2 203 Pigments and their Properties
L2 204 Paint and Ink Manufacture - Rheology
L2 205 Evaluation
L2 206 Surface Preparation

Glenn Scott

Technical Assistant – R&D Dept AkzoNobel Marine and Protective Coatings
AkzoNobel Marine and Protective Coatings

Glenn Scott works as a technical assistant for International Paints in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, in the yacht division’s R&D department and, like so many of the people in the coatings industry, was told about the training modules of The Coatings Training Institute by his employer.

“International Paint told all of us who were new that a good way to get promotion was to do The Coatings Training Institute modules,” says Glenn. “I saw that the first six modules were all related to what I was doing, so I felt it was worthwhile to give it a go.”

As it turned out, Glenn was in for a bit of a surprise as he discovered how detailed some of the modules are.

“The first module on the Foundation level was particularly useful as an overview and the Surface Preparation and the Paint and Ink Manufacture were very relevant for me. We make paint from scratch here and then do our own quality control, so all of this was very useful, but when we got on to the Pigments and their Properties module, I was a bit bewildered by all of the chemistry involved. It was very in depth – much more for chemists.”

That said, Glenn ploughed on with the modules, determined to make the best of the opportunity. “It wasn’t the content of the modules I struggled with, you understand,” he points out, “it was its relevance to me.”

The upside, however, was to reveal itself soon after he had completed the level.

“When I started working here, it really was just another job, you know. But now I can talk about the things I do and I understand why I do them. The training gives you a belief and a confidence when you are explaining things to others.”

So, did he enjoy the experience? “Well, I wouldn’t call it fun, but, yes, I can say that I enjoyed a good 80 per cent of it – and, of course, I got my promotion after I had finished the level, it has certainly been beneficial to me.

“I’m not looking into doing any more at the moment, but I can see that the courses can be very useful if my job changes – or if I want to change my job. If I thought it would be advantageous to me, I’d be there, asking to do more. If the next six modules benefit me as much as the first six have, I’d be straight in there.”

Philip Gerken
Being able to fit the studying and the exams into my own schedule is perfect.
Modules undertaken
L2 201 General Overview of Coatings
L2 202 Media and Solvents
L2 203 Pigments and their Properties
L2 204 Paint and Ink Manufacture - Rheology
L2 205 Evaluation
L2 206 Surface Preparation
L3 301 Types and Manufacture of Pigments
L3 302 Properties of Pigments
L3 314 Manufacture – Paint
L3 315 Manufacture – Ink
L3 329 Application – Metallic Substrates
L3 330 Application – Non-Metallic Substrates
L3 333 Coatings – Safety, Health and Environmental Aspects

Philip Gerken

Quality Control Supervisor Teal & Mackrill
Teal & Mackrill

Once in a while, a company or organisation gets an employee or member who represents an archetype of everything it wants to be in terms of input and image. When it comes to The Coatings Training Institute’s training courses, this archetype is Phil Gerken, a quality control supervisor for Teal & Mackrill in Hull, Yorkshire.

He started working for the T&M in 1998 and the company suggested that he might benefit from taking some of The Coatings Training Institute training modules. He took on the Foundation level in 2002, once he felt comfortable in his role.

“There were a few stops and starts on that level,” he points out. “There were a lot of difficulties at that time, but I battled on and finally completed the course in 2004.

“I think it shows how much notice The Coatings Training Institute takes because they gave me an award for that, the Outstanding Achievement Award. They put on a ceremony for all the winners – it was a great day out. I appreciated that a lot.”

Phil has seen a lot of changes in The Coatings Training Institute courses since he started more than a decade ago, but all of them, he feels, for the better.

“I’m doing the Level 3 module, Application – Metallic Substrates, at the moment and the final exam will be with me next week. A few years ago, this would have meant an examiner coming out to me at a set time, but now I can do the exam when it suits me.

“As I said, I work for a small company and sometimes you can’t afford to take time out, so being able to fit the studying and the exams into my own schedule is perfect. There’s no pressure, so if you need to take a break, you can.”

Phil has worked his way up to his current position of supervisor from lab assistant, so have The Coatings Training Institute training modules helped? “Oh, yes. Without a doubt. When I started out, I can’t really say that I had any expectations, but these courses are really intensive and you think you aren’t going to remember anything, but then you find yourself explaining things to younger members of staff and you realize that it has all gone in. It has surprised me like that more than once.

“I’m moving up to Technical Service soon and a lot of the courses I have done will really help when I find myself having to talk to customers.”

It almost seems pointless to ask Phil whether he has enjoyed the experience, as the answer seems too obvious, but we ask it anyway. “Yes, I think I can say I have enjoyed it. There was one module on the last level, Evaluation of Colour, which was so interesting – well, I’m a colourist, so I guess it should be, but this is another great thing about the courses. You can cherry pick the relevant modules and the subjects you really want to do – and the ones you really need to do.

So what for the future? Phil says he is planning to complete Level 3 over the next couple of years and then take a break from studying for a while. “I’ll discuss future courses with my managers and we’ll see what’s best to do after that. As I said, this method of studying is perfect for my company. If they had to send me off to university, it would be a real strain – but yes, I’ll keep on studying.”

Cindy Xu
I immediately saw that The Coatings Training Institute training modules offered everything I needed – and at many different levels.
Modules undertaken
L5 501 Pigments Colour and Dispersion
L5 506 Formulation Requirements of Industrial Systems - Automotive and Can Coatings
L5 507 Liquid Coatings, Modifiers and Drying
L5 512 Water Borne Coatings
L5 514 Coating Powders – Manufacture
L5 599 Advanced Level Formulation Project

Cindy Xu

Quality & Regulatory Affairs Officer Manor Coating Systems
Manor Coating Systems

For many of us, the application and interviewing process for a new job is a battle that is won when we start our first day in our new role. Those with a more mature head on their shoulders, however, wisely see this as the beginning of the real work.

“I wanted to do this for my personal development in my profession,” she explained. “As The Coatings Training Institute is the professional organisation for this industry in the UK, this was the first place I looked and I immediately saw that The Coatings Training Institute training modules offered everything I needed – and at many different levels.”

Cindy ultimately worked up to Level 5 of The Coatings Training Institute’s training modules, studying a range of subjects from pigment colour and dispersion, through automotive and can coatings, to water borne coatings and coating powder manufacture – among others.

“I found that each of the modules was very relevant to me and the work I do – the pigment colour and dispersion module has proved to be very useful in my day-to-day work particularly. I’m using all of the information I learnt on a regular basis.

“I also found the courses very enjoyable. The content and materials provided were all very clear and made studying easy and the final module, a practical, formulation project, was a lot of fun. I found the whole experience a fulfilling one.”

It took Cindy a year to complete the five Level 5 modules she chose to study and then a further eight months to complete the formulation project, as it required every element of the processes of formulation work from the laboratory through to manufacturing.

“I was surprised at being given the award, but it is a nice thing to happen. Even without it, though, I’d still recommend The Coatings Training Institute modules to anyone in the coatings industry.”

John Ilia
This kind of training is essential for this profession.
Modules undertaken
L2 201 General Overview of Coatings
L2 203 Pigments and their Properties
L2 204 Paint and Ink Manufacture - Rheology
L2 205 Evaluation
L3 302 Properties of Pigments
L3 314 Manufacture – Paint
L3 333 Coatings – Safety, Health and Environmental Aspects
L3 313 The Testing of Pigments
L4 408 Acrylics and Aminos
L4 421 Ink Technology and Formulation
L4 417 Manufacture – Dispersion
L4 403 Solvents and Additives
L5 501 Pigments Colour and Dispersion
L5 502 Evaluation and Specifications
L5 503 Formulation – Determining Factors

John Ilia

Chemist Daler-Rowney
Daler-Rowney

We all know the (somewhat clichéd) marketeers’ rallying call that ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ and, as is the case with most clichés, there is a good degree of truth in the phrase. There is also a good case for getting one’s self several steps ahead before one even needs to think about the next goal. It’s called paying the tab before it comes in – and Daler Rowney’s chemist, Xhovan Ilia, is a perfect illustration of how this works.

Xhovan has completed about 13 modules on The Coatings Training Institute’s training programme, covering subjects across all four levels from Foundation to Advanced and is now looking to complete four more modules in order to graduate at the highest level possible to date.

Working for a company famed for its artist supplies, however, one might think that the amount of modules relevant to Xhovan’s work would be limited. Possibly so, but this is not the attitude that he takes.

“This kind of training is essential for this profession,” he says. “All of the courses are useful for those in the coatings industry. Okay, I work in artist paint, but I have picked up so much useful information – more than is necessary for my present job, but there’s no harm in having knowledge beyond what you need at the moment.”

Xhovan started out looking around for more information on techniques and technology and soon came across The Coatings Training Institute’s training programmes.

“They have a really good package of courses and I could see that this would be really beneficial. I’m glad to say that Daler Rowney agreed and approved my studies.”

Xhovan works in the fields of formulation and raw materials, so was very quickly able to accumulate information on how others were doing this elsewhere in the coatings trade.

“I found out a lot about various production and cost saving methods – and that is, after all, what we are all doing, isn’t it? Creating the best product possible for the lowest possible cost.”

What he didn’t know when he began his studies, of course, was that in 2015 the European Union would be bringing in strict material, production and labelling regulations – he couldn’t have done. But the fact that he began his studies over a decade ago now looks somewhat prescient.

“With the training and studying I have done with The Coatings Training Institute, I can see what needs to be done to update our previous systems and labelling. I have also learnt a lot of techniques for evaluating new products. We do a lot of comparison reports, you know, studying our competitors, and this has helped us in measuring the different shades of colours and saved us money at the same time. This has all come from The Coatings Training Institute modules.”

What next then? He was awarded Student of the Year in 2011 and when he finishes Level 5, it seems as though an important element of his professional life will end with it!

“Well, yes, that will be it for The Coatings Training Institute courses, but I’m going to keep my eye on what they are doing, to see if they are offering anything new in the future with new techniques or equipment. But yes, I really enjoy my studies – absolutely! I look forward to studying and discussing the subjects with my tutor and my colleagues. That’s the great thing about study: you discover new things – and new things are exciting.

“Last year I took on four projects and all of them have been successful. This was greatly helped by the information I got from The Coatings Training Institute modules. These days I look at everything The Coatings Training Institute does, seminars, whatever, because I know it will be useful at some point.”

Kenneth Whitson
It’s always nice to have something a little extra on your CV.
Modules undertaken
L2 201 General Overview of Coatings

Kenneth Whitson

Analytical Chemist Akzo Nobel
Akzo Nobel

Although called the British Coatings Federation, The Coatings Training Institute has considerable reach outside the shores of our little islands, due in part to the international standing of some of the company members.

When one of Akzo Nobel’s analytical chemists based in Louisville, Kentucky, approached his manager with the thought that some training in the paint and ink industry might be useful, the company plumped for The Coatings Training Institute's foundation module immediately.

Ken works in a laboratory as a chemist, examining and measuring the properties of coatings, so the immediate thought is that such a module might be a bit simplistic for him. Actually, not so…

“I thought it would be good to get an overall picture of the industry and its products, and while some of the material was familiar to me, there was a lot that was very useful,” he explains. “For example, I had never studied polymers before and until I did this course, I hadn’t realised that the coatings industry includes inks as well as paints. This was a surprise – and very much why I did the module: to find out what I didn’t know!”

Because of this, Ken feels that the course very much lived up to his expectations. Beyond that, he found enjoyment and a lot of interest in elements such as the practical lab work, and he is now looking at what other modules he could do in the future.

“Would I recommend The Coatings Training Institute training modules? Yes, I think I would. I suspect that most of my colleagues have covered the particular general module I took, but for someone like me – a chemist – it was very useful. I’m sure everyone can find useful modules there. “It’s hard to say if this has or will further my career particularly, but it’s always nice to have something a little extra on your CV.”

Which goes to show that career paths are made of much the same stuff on both sides of the Atlantic.

Paul Fisher
I can’t emphasize enough how much these courses have helped my career – and they can help anybody
Modules undertaken
L5 503 Formulation – Determining Factors
L4 407 Convertible Media - Alkyds and Polyesters
L4 404 Media - Introduction and Manufacture of Media
L4 403 Solvents and Additives
L3 330 Application – Non-Metallic Substrates
L3 329 Application – Metallic Substrates
L3 325 Paint Application – Non-Spraying
L3 302 Properties of Pigments
L3 301 Types and Manufacture of Pigments
L2 208 Powder Coating Application and Cure
L2 207 Powder Coatings – Overview
L2 202 Media and Solvents

Paul Fisher

Development Chemist Spencer Coatings
Spencer Coatings

The idea that education is a lifetime’s work is still a fairly new idea, but sometimes you can come across people for whom the idea has been as natural as, well, getting up and going to work in the morning.

Take Paul Fisher, a technical service official and development chemist for Spencer’s Coatings (formerly Stokes Paints). He left school at 16 with little more than a smile and, in his own words, “accidentally fell into the paint industry”. By the time he was in his 20s, he was thinking, as so many of us do, about furthering his career, so he turned to The Coatings Training Institute training modules.

“That was 11 years ago, before the online courses had started,” he explains. “So I switched to online when that happened and then when I came to Stokes’ I carried on.”

Looking back on his motivation at the time, Paul sees a keenly ambitious young man. “I did it because I wanted to learn more about what I was doing. I wanted the background information to the industry I was working in, and I wanted that to push me on. My old job was working for a distributor, so a knowledge of what paint was and how it worked wasn’t really an issue, but once I had found this out, I found it really beneficial.

“I think I had got about as far as I could at my old job and I decided I wanted more. By the time I came to Stoke’s, I had a good background in paints, but the work I was doing led me naturally to the lab. Once I was lab based, it only made sense to continue as there were a lot of areas of the work that were new to me.”

Over the past ten years, Paul has completed some 15 online modules with The Coatings Training Institute and is currently in the middle of the advanced module Formulation: Determining Factors.

“I just need to take the exam now,” he points out. “I have taken a bit of a break recently due to my workload and having a young family, but I’ll be finishing that off soon. This is the beauty of The Coatings Training Institute courses. You can do it completely in your time – at your own speed. As little or as much as you like. There are a lot of them, too. You can go as deep into subjects as you want and pick and choose the ones that are relevant to your work. It’s so convenient.”

From his own experience, Paul would recommend theThe Coatings Training Institute course to anyone in the industry – particularly to those just starting out in the industry. “I can’t emphasize enough how much these courses have helped my career – and they can help anybody. I’ve got 20 years behind me now, but I’m still seeing the benefits and I’m going to continue my studies.”

It was this attitude that won Paul The Coatings Training Institute’s Student of the Year Award in 2010 for the sheer amount of modules he had completed and the high quality of his work.

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