Katherine Ross

Graduate Engineer

"I was also really interested in working for a company that takes the product through the whole lifecycle from design to build to test and then customer support."

How did you hear about the Leonardo graduate programme?

I first heard about Leonardo when I attended the Scottish Graduate Fair held by Strathclyde University in Glasgow. At the time, I was studying an MSc in Advanced Mechanical Engineering with Aerospace at Strathclyde. I saw the stand, stopped and had a chat!

Why did you choose to join it?

I liked the idea of having a structured placement plan that you have control over and allows you to see around various departments in the business before choosing your final role. I was also really interested in working for a company that takes the product through the whole lifecycle from design to build to test and then customer support. Not many companies in the UK offer that and for me that made it really interesting.

What is your role on the programme?

I am currently on year two of the engineering graduate scheme doing a placement in Project Engineering, having previously undertaken a placement in the Rotors department doing stress analysis.

What are your main tasks / activities on the graduate scheme?

We do a mix of both tasks for our placement and work for the graduate scheme. Within Project Engineering, I’m working on the Crowsnest programme for the UK Ministry of Defence. So far I’ve got involved in many activities – from looking at the instrumentation requirements for first flight to writing testing documents for components. In every placement I’ve undertaken, my tasks and responsibilities have allowed me to contribute essential work to the department.

What support do you get from colleagues in developing yourself?

On the graduate scheme we are actively encouraged to develop ourselves. We receive training in the form of workshops where we spend a day or two learning and practising some techniques such as peer coaching and personal branding. We then gain opportunities to develop these skills by taking the lead on a STEM event or running a community project. There are several opportunities throughout the year, so everybody gets a chance to develop. On the scheme we set ourselves personal development goals which we review regularly with our manager. We also get the opportunity to tailor our placements to our development goals; if there is a particular area we want to develop, we can tie that into our placement work.

What do you enjoy most about on the graduate scheme?

My favourite thing about the scheme is the variety of things we can get involved in, both on the professional and personal development sides, including charity fundraising and STEM engagement initiatives.

Are you involved in any other activities outside your specific job role, such as charity of STEM-related initiatives?

During the first year of my scheme I was part of the Yeovil apprentice and graduate committee (AWASA) which raises money every years for a chosen charity. Joining the group has been one of the most fun and fulfilling things I’ve ever done; as a committee we raised over £44,000 for a local charity. I was also lucky enough to get involved in a trip out to Nepal to visit the school we were raising funds to build. Joining AWASA was also a great opportunity to meet new people and network around the business, whilst also working on some of my development goals. This year I will have the opportunity to get involved in a community project run by graduates.

There are several STEM events available for the graduates to get involved in. I was super lucky and spent three (long!) exciting days at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) inspiring and introducing kids to STEM. It was a great opportunity, as we hopefully managed to demonstrate what possibilities could be open to them by selecting STEM subjects. I know when I was at school I always thought maths was just boring – it’s suddenly not so boring when you apply it to a helicopter! I also volunteered to join the Cool Aeronautics committee where we ran an event for over 190 kids in collaboration with the Royal Aeronautical Society. On the day, we had participants doing engineering-based activities and getting tours of an AW101 and Wildcat Helicopter. All the STEM work has been a great experience as I think it is a really important thing to get involved. I’ve had fun and along the way have gained the chance to work on my personal development at the same time.

What are your plans when finish the scheme?

I hope to get a role within Project Engineering. I really like being involved in all aspects of a project, which Project Engineering offers, and I’ve found that within the department every week seems to hold something new for me which keeps me on my toes!

What are you hoping to accomplish in your future career?

I’m dreaming big and would love to be a Chief Project Engineer! I’d also like to continue doing STEM work and inspiring future engineers.