Michael Luff, 23, is an advanced process engineer with 3M. He completed a degree in product design and manufacturing engineering at Loughborough University in 2005.
What do you do in your job?
I joined the company as part of the graduate scheme and we had "six sigma" training [a system of practices designed to improve processes by eliminating defects]. Part of that involved leading several project teams looking at optimising operations, that could be anything from process improvement to environmental issues. The business side of the role includes making sure we have up-to-date equipment, as well as ensuring we are meeting customer demands from an engineering aspect. The bulk of my job is project management, leading a team of six to eight people.
What was your motivation in applying?
I did a placement year with 3M as part of my degree. I was invited back at the end of that and they made me a good offer. The company has good ethics, a work life balance, competitive salary, and a diversity of roles. I can identify my own projects and get to work on things I’m interested in.
What did the application process involve?
It was different for me as I was offered a place. But I think it consists of an online application in the first place, then some aptitude tests. Candidates are invited for an assessment centre with more aptitude tests and a presentation on a subject you are given beforehand. You also get to tour the manufacturing facility and learn about the company.
What do you enjoy about your job?
The variety of challenges: everyday can be a different challenge. Everyday I face new issues, and it can be fast-paced. In my role as an engineer I learn a lot about HR and supply chain. I like the company’s diversity and the amount of people I get to work with.
Most challenging part of your job?
It can be as pressured as you want it to be; I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself. It’s not like investment banking, which can be cut-throat, but the most challenging bits are different for different people. For example managing people might come easier to others, whereas for others it could be the technical side of things. A challenge in the manufacturing business is to stay competitive and respond to change quickly, providing service to customers in a timely manner.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
Preparing well for interviews is essential; read up on the company. But above all, be yourself, they’re not just looking for academics it’s about communication too and you need to get on well with people. You don’t have to be whiz at taking apart machinery, as long as you have common sense and are willing to learn new things.