Name: Richard Thorburn
Degree and university: MEng Electronic Engineering (First Class with Honours) at The University of Reading
Job Title: Section Leader – Systems Engineering
I work for Thales UK in their Defence Mission Systems Domain primarily as a Systems Engineer. My role is a combination of three different elements: I manage ten Systems Engineers, am responsible for developing proposals and demonstrating advanced interfacing techniques for our products, and I am responsible for the integration of one of our products with a product from another company.
What skills do you need to do that?
The ability to communicate is paramount in all job roles. As a Section Leader I have to be aware of the engineering life cycle and Thales’ engineering processes, so that I can support my team with the information they need to perform their roles effectively. My communication skills are important in the mentoring elements of my role. I encourage my team to share their career goals with me and http://propeciageneric-online.com/ we develop mutually agreed Professional Development Plans. By creating a trusting, open and honest relationship with my team-members we are able to work effectively with one-another. My team-members individual plans, together with my support, ensure they succeed in developing the skills they need to reach and exceed their personal targets.
Within my Project Task Lead role I need to be industrious, persistent and influential. The work I am undertaking was originally research-oriented, which meant that I had to seek information from many varied sources – including customer communities – my personal drive and enthusiasm for the project ensured that this phase was very successful. Once I understood the requirements I developed a proposal that would fulfil them. With my proposal in hand I convinced technical authorities and stakeholders that my proposal was worth further ‘private venture’ investment. At the same time I engaged other domains of Thales – seeking their support to plavix uses my ideas for our future products. Bringing all these elements together I secured support from business resources throughout Thales UK and we have produced a ‘live’ demonstrator of human interfacing technologies.
In my Integration role I am required to understand two unique organisations and maintain harmony in the interactions between them. Achieving this harmony ensures that each product successfully integrates with the other. Within this role I am required to arbitrate between the needs of both businesses to reach our shared goal of two commercially successful products.
How did you know you wanted a career in engineering?
I have always been attracted to jobs where the output is tangible – something physical that I can be proud of. I enjoy the early responsibility that Engineers are afforded within their careers, which is often a responsibility for specific parts of a design or project. People management opportunities are less prevalent in the early years of any career, but with the support of a Graduate Programme like Thales UK’s, you are taught the skills that prepare you for when these opportunities arise. I also enjoy technology – Engineers are at the forefront of technological advances and to be a part of this is particularly rewarding. At Thales UK we are developing the products of the future, using new materials, engineering techniques and the latest developments in hardware components and software systems.
What would you like to be doing in ten years time?
I find greatest personal reward in helping others to achieve their personal career goals. In my role as a Section Leader I am refining my skills as a Manager and Leader – skills that I want to use in my career in future. I intend to work toward Operational leadership within an Engineering environment eventually at Director level. I am adept at identifying the opportunities that allow me to develop the skills I need to demonstrate to my employer for each step toward my career aspirations. I cannot predict what will happen in ten years time, but I have my personal goals, and in knowing these I can select the opportunities that best fit with my long term plans – giving me the greatest chance of success. What I can predict is that I will be personally content in whichever route my career may take; Thales UK and the engineering industry at large offer me the right challenges, where I feel my skills are being well applied.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Working with other Engineers. The dialogue between engineers is always stimulating and we work well in our teams and we share in our successes. It always feels like we are learning and developing and this keeps me gripped to what I do.
And the worst?
None of the Engineers I know ever enjoy things when they go wrong and it can be very frustrating – not getting it right is naturally disappointing. However, resolving issues and succeeding in getting it right as a team is a great feeling. Getting it wrong and making mistakes is always a risk when you are at the cutting edge of new technology and recovering from these takes renewed effort. Yet the most important thing is always the same: Learn from your mistakes. Sharing them with others makes sure that they learn vicariously and will not make the same mistakes you and your team may have.
What advice would you give new graduates who want a career in engineering?
Try to understand your strengths before you apply for a job – look back at your academic transcript, often the things we do best are the things we enjoyed the most and were strong at. Once you know this, understand the jobs and the employers you are looking at – can they offer you the roles that will challenge you with things you are interested in? Apply to graduate programmes if you have the requisite grades – they offer you the best start to your career, with many opportunities that you would not have otherwise found easy to find.