Vault Q&A: Engineering Leadership Graduate Trainee, Rolls Royce
Name of Employer: Rolls Royce
Name of Employee: Adam Newman, 24 years old
Title: Engineering Leadership Graduate Trainee (part of a five-year traineeship programme)
Department/Division: Controls. I'm training for a team leader or managerial role. In my current team there are four people and I'm the only graduate trainee. It's quite a small group. The standard team has about 30 or 40 people.
Number of years at firm: Two years
Number of years in current role: You rotate departments every three to six months. This is my sixth department. The first thing I worked on here was three military projects. Next, I worked on an industrial project, then energy and now marine. Projects could be anything from new product introduction to supporting current projects. It has been pretty varied.
Degree (s): Masters in Aerospace Engineering from Sheffield University, with hours.
How did you first decide to enter your industry? What first attracted you?
I've always had an interest in engineering and aircraft. I have family who've worked in similar professions. When I was at school I did work experience in an engine maintenance facility. When I got to university, my interest became more Rolls Royce specific as the company had open days on which I met several current employees. They come to the university and you can arrange to have a 20 minute session where you sit down and chat to people at Rolls Royce. Then, finally in my third year at university I did a summer placement at Rolls Royce, which is a 10-week project as a vacation trainee.
What are the typical education requirements? What skills and/or experience are important for success?
A master's degree in a related field is required. Obviously for engineering it's an engineering degree. It could be mechanical, aeronautical or control systems engineering -- any sort of related engineering field. Materials engineers obviously come from more of a materials background. For A-levels you need physics and maths and they have to be grade B or above. That is a standard requirement.
What is the typical career path in your industry?
I would say as a company we don't have a typical career path, and that's the good thing about Rolls Royce as you can move around and you don't have to be a specialist. You have specialists and you have general managers. Specialists are clearly more technical. One could start as a specialist and later move into a management role if they wanted to, if that's where they saw their career going and, in the same way, they could move back if they saw themselves being more of a specialist. There don't seem to be any barriers in the way. You can move around and do whatever you want to do. I see myself going into the management route while having this technical background to support me.
Certainly there is a large-scale international recruitment at the company. A lot of my friends are from all over the world and we get to travel extensively. There seems to be a big drive now for international business and international recruitment.
What is the best part of your job?
Definitely the travel. I've worked at different sites in the UK and around the world. There is a lot of variation in your day-to-day tasks and the big projects you get to work on. The work is very interesting and challenging and you actually get involved in the real work and you have responsibility.
What is your least favourite part of your job?
Writing documents. You do all this sort of design work and then you have to sit and write this big document. It's not always as fun as doing the real stuff.
How relevant is your education to what you are doing today?
Really relevant. It's really important that you can do the basic maths and physics because they're grounding for everything you do. If you start something new that you've never done before then you fall back on your basics to understand it.
Can you offer any advice to graduates seeking a career in your industry?
The internet career pages are really good to find out what opportunities there are and what the requirements are. When filling in applications make sure that you know about the company you're applying for, such as what they do and where they are in the world and try to demonstrate that. Make sure you have a broad range of interests and background. Don't just focus on fantastic exam results at the expense of everything else. If you turn up with a first in your degree and no other interests you might not be the first one chosen. Hobbies and team sports are great skills in addition to academic excellence. See if you can go on a summer placement program because it seems to be an ideal selection route.
What is something unusual that people might not know about your role?
Rolls Royce doesn't actually make prestige cars anymore. It makes power systems for air, land and sea.
What is your best perk?
International travel. There is a lot of opportunity to work abroad, whether it's on a project, to visit a site or to meetings etc. I've really enjoyed it so far. It's definitely the right decision I made coming out of university. In terms of training schemes, there is nothing better than here.