Christian Thomas, 24, is on AgustaWestland's graduate programme and is working towards his IET Chartership. After some amazing experiences working for them during a year-long placement, he knew he'd fight hard to get a place on the graduate scheme.
What’s your name?
Who do you work for?
What’s your job title?
I’m on the graduate development programme, currently based in the manufacturing engineering sector of the Operations Directorate.
How did you get there?
I have a Masters first class honours degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from The University of Bath. During university I applied for a year placement with the company with the promise of working with a leading innovation and design rotorcraft company. I was not disappointed: I started my year in research and development working on experimental rotor blade technology, moving swiftly to advanced avionics integration and finishing with a problem-solving placement within the Integrated Merlin Operational Support team.
Can you describe your typical day?
It consists of replying to important suppliers and contractors working on various projects around site. Face-to-face meetings to discuss any issues that arise from project work and forming a suitable solution to them. I generally work on two projects simultaneously during the day to provide a varied working day. During the afternoon, project work continues as normal and I finish the day at 5pm.
The two-year programme I’m on is structured to provide three six-month placements in engineering/manufacturing with one six-month business placement. This provides a wide range of experience throughout the programme. I see my career path moving from a purely engineering-based graduate towards an engineering and business executive and progressing towards a management role later in life or even managing director.
What are the people you work with like?
There is a huge variety of different personalities in the work place. Everyone is friendly and helpful when you need assistance on project work. There are, of course, some characters but you learn and adapt to their style to achieve your goal. In all, AgustaWestland employees are friendly and knowledgeable and it is a good place to work and gain invaluable experience.
What’s the best thing about the job?
There are two reasons why I enjoy my job: it provides a variety of tasks and a challenging environment. There is always something different every day, be it a new request, meeting with suppliers/contractors to secure quotes or urgent tasks. New projects and ambitious targets provide a steep learning curve and ensure that you are always working towards Chartership goals and that there is career progression.
I also like that the six-month placements that make up the programme can sometimes be sub divided into two three-month placements to gain additional experience in a niche area. This gives control to us the graduates to tailor the scheme to our own needs as well as benefiting the company.
Is there much travel involved?
Opportunities to travel are available; the graduate scheme allows you to travel to Italy to see factories that are based over there with our Italian counterparts. This is a learning exercise and a chance to try out your Italian language skills. There are other chances for travel linked to the departments you have chosen. I have been to expos regarding sustainability and recently a business trip to Scotland to meet with one of our suppliers.
What will your next likely role be at the company?
The next placement will be in the Electrical Manufacturing Centre, which will provide me with valuable experience and a chance to flex my degree yet further. At the end of the graduate scheme my intention is to work in an area with job progression and management responsibilities.
What are the top three things you like doing when not being an engineer?
Relaxing; going on holiday and travelling; and meeting new people. I also enjoy sport: I am a regular at the local gym and particularly like cycling and badminton.