Embracing Challenges: Meet BAE Systems’ Gina

For National Apprenticeship Week, ADS is featuring several apprentices from across our sectors to demonstrate why apprenticeships are important and the talent in our sectors.

Gina, Project Management Degree Apprentice, BAE Systems

Can you give a brief description of your role and what it involves?

I am a Project Management Degree Apprentice in my final year. The Degree apprenticeship consists of working on year-long placements in Project Management, Project Controls and other related roles, while doing one day a week day-release for university.

Academically I am currently working on my dissertation, and I am on placement with the Queen Elizabeth Class Carrier as part of the Business and Performance Management team. I work closely with various functions to be able to create a picture of all the work that is taking place on both the carriers, and some of my tasks involves integrating our processes over to a new system for business winning, and creating monthly reports on performance.

Have you worked on any other interesting projects/programmes and can you provide details of the work?

I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of placements in different areas across Maritime Services including the T45 Class, Transformation and Fleet Time Engineering in both Project Controls and Project Management roles, gaining exposure to a wide range of programmes.

One of my favourite placements was in Naval Base Services where I had the chance to support the installation of a new water-based hockey pitch at one of the Naval Sports Centres. Here I was able to learn about construction projects, stakeholder management on a wide scale and the fast paced nature of a time-sensitive project such as a hockey pitch which had to be installed in the off-season. The knowledge gained from this has been invaluable and I will take the learning forwards on future projects.

Another project I was able to be involved in alongside my placement as part of my development was the BAE Systems Global Planning, Monitoring and Control Conference in 2018, where I was part of the planning team and even presented at the conference. I was able to work with senior leaders and learn about events management which I previously hadn’t had exposure to.

What do you find most exciting and /or rewarding about your role?

I find being able to see what I am delivering rewarding. Be it in the form of a conference, finished hockey pitch, finalised report or the appreciation from the team when we’ve been able to deliver our objectives, it all adds to the satisfaction of the role.

What’s important to you about the people and teams you work with at BAE Systems?

As an apprentice you have the opportunity to test yourself, prove your capability and make an impact on those you are working with so it’s important to feel included and a part of the team. Moving placements and having exposure to various areas of the business means apprentices are able to work with some of the most knowledgeable personnel in all areas, and often these people are really willing to support the next generation by passing on their knowledge and include you in their work day. I think that’s a really important aspect of the environment that the company has created for apprentices and graduates.

What do you think are the key skills required to make the best of the apprenticeship scheme?

As a Project Manager it’s integral to be able to communicate with stakeholders, and a key part of this is understanding others, therefore being adaptable is important to ensure everyone understands the plan to complete tasks.

One of the things I was taught early on was “to learn, you have to make mistakes”. To me this means embracing challenges and chances to develop because the worst you can do is make a mistake – it’s not a failure if you learn from it.

The second thing is; don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are so many different people to learn off, and everyone understands the position you are in, so have the confidence to approach people and ask questions that widen your understanding and help you to see the bigger picture of how different teams integrate. One of the benefits of the apprenticeship is that there will always be people to help you if you are struggling, and you can gain so much from the people your around if you have the confidence to approach them.

Why do you enjoy working at BAE Systems?

I enjoy working as part of an apprenticeship with BAE Systems because I am able to learn the theory of a degree while applying it practically on placement, to appreciate how the two intertwine. In addition to this, I am able to move around on different placements to be able to experience a diverse range of projects, gaining both soft and hard skills that will serve me throughout my career.

Read our other blogs on National Apprenticeship Week 2020.