Your background? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool carere?
I have always been extremely passionate about and obsessed with cars. I think my first word as a toddler was actually “car”! When I was 15 years old, I won a car design competition set by Jaguar Cars to design their “Car of the Future”. This gave me the confidence and belief that I could enter the world of car design. Coming from a medical family put me in a career dilemma however and I very nearly chose to study medicine at university.
What did you study?
For my A-Levels I studied Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, which kept my options open. It was after doing work experience in Jaguar Land Rover’s Design Studio and visiting Loughborough’s Automotive Engineering Department, I realised my true passion was cars and Automotive Engineering would be the perfect career path for me! I knew Loughborough University had the best Automotive Engineering course in the UK. With fantastic contacts in industry and really exciting and interesting courses. It was the only place I wanted to go!
Where are you now?
I’m working as a Graduate in Research & Development on the Global Graduate Programme at Volvo Car Corporation in Göteborg, Sweden. I am currently in Complete Vehicle Engineering and will rotate around the company over 2 years to get a broader knowledge of the organisation. Being in the Weight and Materials Management department, I have responsibilities for calculating and monitoring weight distributions of complete future vehicle designs and also managing and analysing the weights of systems throughout the development process. The role also involves benchmarking our cars against competitor cars and contributing to designing the future strategy of next generation car designs. In a few months I will be moving to the Active Safety department with the responsibility of developing and innovating Collision Avoidance systems. My final rotation will be in the Design Studio as a Studio Engineer working on new concepts and car designs, whilst being a key link between the Car Designers and Engineers in Research & Development.
How did you get there?
Before coming to Loughborough, I had work experience as a Studio Engineer at the Jaguar Land Rover Design Studio, which really developed my passion for car design. After my third year of study at university, I completed a year-long industrial DIS placement at Cummins Engine Company. The recruitment process for this role was similar to that of my graduate job, with an online application, psychometric tests, assessment centre and interview. At Cummins, I was in the Worldwide Engineering
Support and Cost Reduction Department and worked as a Design Engineer for future engine designs and current product cost reductions. I was also responsible for problem solving and supporting the company’s joint venture in China for any design issues with their products, plant or manufacturing processes. This experience gave me an in-depth understanding of managing cross-functional design and engineering within a global corporate framework, whilst developing healthy working relationships with engineers and suppliers from varying cultures worldwide. On my return back to university for my final year, I only wanted to work for a car company as a graduate and so I only applied to major UK and European car companies with Graduate Programmes. I received
several job opportunities but the best opportunity came from Volvo Cars in Sweden. I really believe in the company’s ambitious vision and industry leadership with Safety and Innovation, which in turn is producing fantastic cars. It is an extremely exciting place to work and the Graduate Programme is offering me all of the opportunities I need to develop to achieve my career dreams.
Where are you going?
Within a couple of years I expect to become a Chartered Engineer with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and hope to study for an MBA in the future. My ambition is to become a Vehicle Line Director (fully responsible for a new car programme) and further ahead, a future leader of the automotive industry.
What if anything would you have done differently during your time at Loughborough University to help you prepare better for your career/life upon graduation?
Nothing. I really feel I made the most of all opportunities (of which there are many at Loughborough!) and my university experience has thoroughly prepared me for my graduate career and some fantastic prospects ahead.
What advice would you give to a student studying your subject at university now?
Believe in yourself and follow your passion. The engineering industry is competitive but with self-belief, hard work and passion you can achieve whatever you want to. Research the industry thoroughly, be sure to network lots and ask plenty of questions. People are always willing to help young and keen future potentials and good communication skills will help you a great deal. Industrial experience is extremely important and will set you apart from the tough competition for graduate jobs. On top of my work experiences at large global companies, I also did voluntary experience as a Mechanic and developed my
practical knowledge of cars. Be sure to ask for unpaid experience too, it will be a real eye-opener and shows your passion for your career. As well as related engineering experience be sure to develop extra-curricular activities and interests. These will give you many ‘soft skills,’ which are very important to most recruiters and will make you
different to other candidates. Being the Breakdance Society Chairman for two years, a jazz saxophonist and being actively involved in national STEM work (inspiring kids to study science and engineering), supported my First Class Honours degree to get my dream graduate job. I really believe my personal interests and diverse skill-set were just as important as my grades. Make the most of any opportunities that come your way – you never know where they may take you!