BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
The one industry I was definitely never going to work in was IT – or so I thought.
I did a Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Uni – I’ve always been a hands-on, practical kind of person and I like to know how everything works. By contrast, a degree in IT or one that involved essays and reviewing plays seemed much less tangible.
But when it came to looking at graduate jobs, a career as a Management Consultant offered surprising allure. To my surprise, it was all about figuring out how things worked (for a particular client), sussing out what wasn’t working and then coming up with plans and solutions to fix it. Plus it was better paid than engineering jobs – so I got sucked in.
I did my graduate years at Accenture working with a client called Lloyds Registrars (now Equiniti). I spent four days a week on site in Worthing, initially as a tester for the system Accenture had developed, and then as a Business Analyst. Two years later and I was the Subject Matter Expert on the system functionality for Dividends and had spent time in Bangalore as we tried to outsource system support. I have fond memories of trying to teach root cause analysis (specifically writing SQL queries) in Bangalore, which was amusing having failed my C++ exam at Uni.
A recruiter then approached me about BAE Systems Applied Intelligence – it was called Detica then – and I liked the company ethos, the work they did and the people I met. Having grown tired of Accenture, I was ready for a change so I joined the team and went straight to work on an HMRC project to implement a system underpinning tax fraud investigations. Since then I have worked at BAE for eight years (across two separate stints) with clients including the Foreign Office, Home Office and TfL.
The intervening period was again prompted by my desire to do something new and so in 2014 I went to work for a web start-up as their Data Manager and Tech Lead. It was a really rewarding few years, my role developed into COO and we launched a deal with Zoopla where they bought into the company. Overall it was a great learning curve in areas I had never experienced, but eventually I missed the BAE team – working with like-minded, conscientious and results-orientated people never gets old and so I came back.
I still love getting under the skin of a new problem – system, process or behavioural. My enduring objective is to learn how things work and I get to do this every week – whether that’s learning about the national critical infrastructure our police force relies on or what exactly a Catapan is and much else.
Your career is a long time. There’s plenty of scope to try things out, move forwards, move backwards and, ultimately, mould it into something which gives you purpose and satisfaction.