Why did you join Leonardo?
I applied for both university and various apprenticeships, but in the end I decided an apprenticeship would suit me best. I could gain qualifications and four years of work experience at a leading engineering company, while getting paid without building up any student debt. I could see that I would be crazy not to choose an apprenticeship over university if I got the offer. I had also been recommended the apprenticeship scheme from two Leonardo employees who were ex pupils from my High School.
Why was an apprenticeship the right path for you?
During High School I wasn’t entirely sure about what I wanted to do in the future. The great thing about Leonardo apprenticeships in Edinburgh is that you rotate within different engineering functions every 3-6 months, allowing you to find what you are good at and the subject areas you enjoy – something which is very useful for someone who has just left high school.
The appealing thing about apprenticeships is the blended learning aspects. You get to use the theoretical knowledge you learn at college by applying it through practical hands-on tasks at work, which aids your learning and helps pick up the theory more quickly. Work-based learning also provided me with the opportunity to learn from some of the UK’s leading engineers, which allowed me to harness their skills and experience to shape my own development.
Tell us what you do in a typical day
I work within the Industrial Engineering Team and I work on new product introduction – taking a product through the whole cycle from design to qualification to full rate production. Industrial Engineering is often described as the bridge between design and manufacturing, and my role involves interfacing between design and manufacturing functions, to ensure that product development and production timelines are met.
Each day for me could be different from hands-on tasks such as optical bonding in a clean-room environment or office-based drawing review of new designs – this variety keeps me motivated and interested on the job in hand.
What do enjoy most about your job?
My favourite thing about my job is working on the technology of the future. My job focuses on new product introduction so I get to see a product come from a concept to real life demonstrators with the hope of securing orders for full rate production in the future. I get to see the advances in technology first-hand, acting as part of a problem-solving team which tests new designs.
I also really enjoy being able to develop relationships with our suppliers when working together to solve problems or carrying out capability reviews on the suppliers for future business.
What have been your biggest achievements at Leonardo so far?
Winning the Apprentice of the Year award 2019 for Leonardo’s Edinburgh site meant I was put forward for UK Leonardo Apprentice of the Year award. After an intensive judging process, it was announced that I had been successful, which was a massive achievement for me since it showed all my hard work over the four-year apprenticeship was being recognised as a success.
During my apprenticeship I have also had the opportunity to be a STEM ambassador for the business, regularly supporting school liaison STEM events, charity fundraising and community initiatives. I hope to continue supporting school career events at my High School, promoting apprenticeships as an option after school.
What are your career aspirations?
Since October 2019, I've been continuing my further education by starting a BSc (Honours) in Natural Sciences (Physics) through the Open University.
After my degree, I’d like to continue to progress down the technical route and become an optical specialist focusing on the technical specifications required for performance and looking into the impact that this has on manufacturing such as lead-time, touch-time, cost etc. I am also interesting in developing my skills further in the management aspects within the company.
Why should someone consider an apprenticeship at Leonardo?
Consider apprenticeships as a real alternative to university. I had always thought of apprenticeships as a route to getting a more practical job – being a mechanic or plumber – rather than a way to build knowledge, but I'm so glad I discovered it. Many employers will ask for specific skills and relevant work experience. Apprenticeships give you the best opportunity to learn while on the job, increasing real-life experience, learning from talented colleagues and becoming qualified.