Clive Higgins

London   04 March 2020
Director of Government Affairs and Director of Human Resources Organisation

Meet Clive. He joined the company’s Yeovil apprentice programme in 1994 and has since moved up through the ranks to now be a member of Leonardo’s UK leadership team, holding the roles of Director of Government Affairs and Director of Human Resources Organisation.

When did you join Leonardo?

I joined GKN Westland Helicopters (before it was renamed Leonardo) in the autumn of 1994 as an Advanced Modern Apprentice in Mechanical Engineering. The apprenticeship was a four-year programme with year 1 based full-time at Yeovil College. For the first year, we were full-time students and I recall that we had to pass year 1, which included both vocational and academic elements, in order to progress to the next years and work in the facility at Yeovil.

At school, I studied Maths, English, Science, Craft Design & Technology, French, History, Geography, Craft Design Realisation and Craft Design Communication, subjects with a strong technical underpinning and which supported me in applying for and undertaking an apprenticeship of the type offered by the Company.

Why was an apprenticeship the right path for your career development?

At the time, I recall not being fully assured of the path I wished to take. I did not feel higher education was the correct route for me, even though initially my tutors at school suggested this would be the best direction. I wanted the opportunity to work and of course earn some money, but also develop vocational and academic skills in an environment outside of the classroom. I felt joining an organisation such as Leonardo would provide those opportunities.

What did your apprenticeship involve?

In Year 1 of the apprenticeship we were taught the basic skills to support our future activities as apprentices in the organisation and skilled employees. The academic element focused on further maths, mechanical engineering, manufacturing and project work, which was delivered on day release basis and included night school.

The vocational element covered a broad range of activities in the workshop including machining, electronics and fabrication to name a few.

I recall as full-time students we didn’t receive any payment, which was different from today, so there was an extra incentive to pass the various elements of the training.

What did you enjoy most about the apprenticeship?

The friends and colleagues. Leaving school is quite a daunting time; you leave the reality and existence you have been used to for a number years and start afresh with new people and in new environments. However, you quickly make new friendships and relationships that endure for a number of years and potentially the rest of one’s working career and life.

What is your current role at Leonardo?

I am currently overseeing two roles in the organisation – Director of Government Affairs and Director of Human Resources Organisation. Both roles involve driving business strategy and supporting the development of the organisation. I work with extremely skilled, talented and experienced people across many functions within Leonardo in a number of geographies including Italy and the US. Externally, I’m heavily involved in activities that help move the organisation forward and in cross-sector initiatives with the UK Government.

What do enjoy most about your job?

Interacting with many different types of people across multiple disciplines and witnessing the development of some of the world’s leading-edge technology and innovation.

What have been your biggest achievements at Leonardo so far?

Following completion of my apprenticeship, I had many career aspirations, all of which I’ve been able to achieve through hard work, dedication and commitment. I was invited to become a director of the company. Looking ahead, I’m extremely keen to help others grow in their roles and continue to drive and promote the next-generation technologies and platforms we develop at Leonardo.

Why should someone consider an apprenticeship at Leonardo?

For the fantastic opportunities that Leonardo offers, being part of a team and the ground-breaking technologies of the future.

What piece of advice would you offer an apprentice today?

Work hard and demonstrate commitment and enthusiasm. Accept opportunities; it’s easy to say ‘no’ to things, however the more you say ‘no’, the less chances arise in the future. Try saying ‘yes’!

Apprenticeships at Leonardo

Apprenticeships at Leonardo

Our highly-regarded apprenticeship programmes – covering hardware and software engineering, business and cyber security – offer intensive training programme lasting 2-4 years, which results in apprentices graduating with a substantial depth of skills in their specialist area.