Before joining BAE Systems I graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in Management. As part of this degree I undertook an internship within Procurement at GE Money (General Electric). It was this internship that opened my eyes to the world of procurement and how fascinating it actually is.
It was very clear that procurement is not only an important part of any business but is also a growing facet, as many businesses are realising the true value the work a procurement department undertakes.
After returning to university I focused my degree around the world of procurement. This only added to my interest of the subject and showed me the true scope of procurement. It was for this scope that I decided for a career in procurement. Coupling this with the size and breadth of BAE Systems, the range of roles you are able to undertake is almost endless.
Not only are you able to get involved in a multitude of tasks but in many cases you can have a direct impact on the success of the business.
At present I work at Military Air Solutions (MAS) within BAE Systems. Before joining the organisation I think it is fair to say that I did not hold a great interest with all things that fly and I held no initial desire to work within an engineering organisation. However, after becoming involved in some of the projects you truly realise how amazing and complex the industry and products are.
It is probably one of the most fascinating environments to work in. For this reason I am very happy with my career choice. For example how many people can say they work on an active airbase with state of the art multi-million pound aircraft flying past the office windows! It certainly keeps the job interesting.
From a personal point of view, I was very keen to undertake a scheme that offered the opportunity for me to develop and learn, which I feel is vital at this early stage of my career. BAE Systems offered this, allowing me to undertake four placements (six months each) across the business allowing me to better choose my potential career path.
They also offered a structured training programme both during the graduate scheme and beyond.
Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) project
Since joining BAE Systems, I have already undertaken a significant number of projects. The first of which was in a true buying role supporting the UAV projects. This was not only fascinating to gain an insight into what the future of air vehicles (both military and civil) looks like but it was a perfect role to understand the core elements of procurement. Within this role I was responsible for purchasing electrical items, cabling and fasteners. This may not seem the most interesting but try building something without them, they are crucial!
Due to the importance of these products, coupled with the fact that the design for the UAVs changed on a regular basis it was crucial to be flexible. Many of the requests for products had significant challenges baked within them. For example, some requests from engineers and designers took over a year for the supplier to manufacture yet the project team needed them in under a week. It was my job to resolve issues like this. It was certainly a challenge but a very rewarding role in a very fast paced environment.
Service provision strategy
The second placement I undertook was a complete contrast to the one above and proved difficult to initially come to terms with. I moved into a more strategic role and looked at service provision strategy. Within my first placement I had timescales ranging from a couple of weeks to a couple of hours. Within this placement it is all about the future and how is our supply chain going to be set up in the long term.
Once I got to grip with the cultural change I found this placement very rewarding as it provided a different view on procurement and I felt that I was helping shape the business for the future. Taking such a high level approach was at first a bit alien but it helped put into context its necessity in helping guide the business forward.
Within this placement I was also able to get involved in a supply base assurance project. Due to the volatility of economic conditions in recent times, many suppliers are facing difficulties and issues surrounding survivability. This obviously has a knock-on effect to BAE Systems as without a healthy supply base we ourselves are unable to perform. Within this project we assessed the capability of many of our suppliers and created a tool to assess and predict if any of our suppliers may face going out of business in the near future.
This tool really opened my eyes on how we should assess suppliers and how important procurement’s role is in ensuring the survivability of what as an organisation we do. This project did come with its difficulties as I was responsible for liaising with a significant amount of people to collate the data and this proved difficult due to the timescales involved. However, it became clear as the project went on, how important the work was to the business.
Throughout all of my placements I have had to deal with many people ranging from engineers, designers right through to supplier directors and business owners. The scope of work I have been part of within procurement has been incredibly varied and yet still only the tip of the iceberg!