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Throughout my school years the only thing I wanted to do was to become a maths teacher. My older sister was pursuing that career herself, but when she obtained her teaching certificate and started looking for a job, there were none. Her struggle to find a job made me seriously re-think my aspirations. I could become an accountant or a software engineer/computer programmer. This was in the late 70s, when computers were few and far between and there was no such thing as a PC; computers were mainframes with punch cards, magnetic and paper tape! That made my decisions very easy; a software engineer.
I applied for a number of roles in Kent to be a software trainee, at one interview I was told as a woman I would have to wear skirts to work so I ruled them out! And after a while I managed to get offered a job working for Marconi Avionics as a trainee software engineer.
At the end of 2 years they offered me the opportunity to do an Advanced Avionics Computing Certificate course, which ran for a further year, so I decided to stay on, and at the end of that I loved everything about the role. I was also heading up a team of 12 engineers, most of whom were graduates!
My career rode the crest of the software wave that hit the industry as software had become an increasingly important element of electronic systems and there were very few people in the business that knew how to manage it. My career as a software trouble shooter started. I spent the next 20 years working on problem projects.I went from running large software organisations to running engineering organisations. I did some project management and ran a very large bid before falling pregnant with triplets! I worked part time and moved into a consultancy role working for the Avionics Technical Director.
In 2005 two thirds of Avionics was sold to Finnmecanica, to form Selex Senor Systems, I was still part of Avionics Head Office so remained in the part that moved out of BAE Systems. It was as a result of this move that I started taking an interest in professional accreditation for the Company. The Italians wanted to understand the engineering capability we had in the UK, which they measured in terms of the number of professional ‘accredited engineers’. As a result I led a campaign, on behalf of the Engineering Director, to get all our senior engineers Chartered and Fellows of the IET (or BCS if they preferred). As part of that process I decided I should lead by example and applied to become both a Fellow and Chartered Engineer.
In 2006 I had returned to BAE Systems as Engineering Director for BAE Systems, Platform Solutions at Rochester and in mid-2009, moved to BAE Systems Performance Excellence and took over as chair of the EPWG (Engineering Process Working Group), where I was heavily involved in the development and release of the new BAE Systems Engineering and Product Safety Policies.
In 2009 I became a Fellow Royal Academy Engineering, and in 2010 I was elected onto the IET Board of Trustees. I have found the experience very interesting and rewarding. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with a wide variety of senior engineers from a vast range of businesses. I have also had the opportunity to help the IET promote engineering as a career for women, a subject which is near and dear to me.
In 2011 I was appointed Engineering Director for Defence Information (DI), BAE Systems. I am still heading up engineering in DI and enjoying every minute of it. My triplets are now 21 years old and I am at last able to engage in my hobbies a bit more I would encourage everyone to seriously consider joining an Institution like the IET and pushing to gain Chartered or Incorporated status.
Jayne K. Bryant FREng CEng FIET