Dreams of becoming a marine biologist filled my school days but a visit to my father’s work changed my mind. I was 14 and hadn’t really been exposed to the world of technological innovation in manufacturing and engineering but after a day of challenging hands-on work and problem solving I just knew I wanted to have a career in the same field.
Ditching all ideas of university I went in search of an apprenticeship and, at 16, found a coveted role as an Advanced Technical Apprentice at BAE Systems near my home on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. It sounds really corny but I chose an apprenticeship because I wanted to earn while I learnt. Many of my friends went to university and sometimes I do feel I missed out on that experience, but what I missed out on at university, I’ve gained in the workplace.
On completion of a three-year apprenticeship, I continued on at BAE Systems in Rochester as a test technician on the Eurofighter Typhoon pilot helmet. After three months working as a test technician in this little production team I realised there was no leadership. We really needed a leader to prioritise our work load and organise the team and being quite gutsy, I took on the challenge and to my naivety I was the youngest Leading Hand in charge by at least 10 years. It’s very daunting to teach and tell people twice or even three times your age what to do. Gaining their respect, as a female as well, was a very big challenge, but one I loved. I’m the kind of person that goes for it: sink or swim.
I’m still working on the helmet for Eurofighter Typhoon pilots, now primarily focussed on fault analysis and diagnostics. On a daily basis I monitor the anomalies occurred during the manufacture of the Eurofighter Typhoon Pilot Helmet, these anomalies I collate could have a massive impact to production but by capturing them at an early stage means I can suggest the improvements required to eliminate and stop any reoccurrence.
I have big career dreams aspiring to work my way further up the career ladder. I really want to head up a project, to become a programme production leader. I aspire to be like my boss, an operations manager. I’m not sure exactly where, but my goal is to head to management.
Aside from my day job I love to volunteer in the community with Ambassador Work. I champion STEM work with local schools, from First Lego League Challenge with infants to GO4SET Engineering Challenge with Young Adults. I find it important to get involved with encouraging children to do well at school, showing the importance of a good education and if I can influence one it would make my whole efforts worthwhile.
Recently I was nominated for the IET Young Women Engineer of the Year Award and was awarded the WES Prize for my contribution to the community; receiving recognition by such a huge organisation makes all the work I have completed an accomplishment and it drives me further to succeed in the future.
Charlotte Tingley, MWES
BAE Systems, Electronic Systems