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  • Role: Project Management Trainee
  • Location: London
  • University: LSE
  • Degree: Management

Annie Wong

Facing the decision of what to do for a career is an aspect of life most people deal with at one point or another. For my A levels, I studied Business Studies and Psychology and in combination they gave me an interest into what is now termed ‘behavioural economics’. Accordingly, I chose to study Management at The London School of Economics and Political Science, which provided the range and combination of topics I was looking for.

A career in management may not be seen as a ‘specialist’ profession such as medicine, law or accounting and a majority of my peers at university did go on to pursue careers in banking and finance. Yet these options did not seem right for me. Upon graduating I did a few internships in the NGO sector and ended up at a small research and management consultancy with international affiliate offices around the world.

Here I worked within the operations team which provided me the opportunity to work with clients directly, compile analytical reports and eventually manage the surveying requirements of some of our major accounts, which ranged from large blue chip companies to well-known charities.

During a team development workshop where we all completed a series of tests and exercises, it was identified that I would be most suited to working in the areas of planning and management. It was this that led me down the path to applying for the a Graduate programme at Rolls-Royce. I have now been on the scheme for approximately 16 months and have had the opportunity to work across three of our business sectors and two international locations.

During the gradate scheme

A graduate scheme is the ideal time to obtain experience and acquire knowledge about the entire organisation. At Rolls-Royce I have worked on projects in the competitive bidding process, the pre-production stages, a cost reduction effort and within Aftermarket Services. Each project also had its own unique business context including working as a partner in a joint subsidiary, as part of a sub-alliance, across multiple global sites and with numerous international customers.

As such I haven’t really got a typical ‘day in the life of…’ account of my daily activities. My responsibilities have ranged from creating integrated master schedules that involves interacting with all the relevant functions, maintaining a Contract Change database, risk assessment, locating a spare part and working with the Operations Centre to resolve specific customer issues.

I was also given the advice to speak with as many people as possible from the different functions with whom I wouldn’t necessarily work with on a daily basis. As such I now have an appreciation for what some of the other functions do including finance, commercial, systems engineering, procurement, operations and the supply chain units.

Opportunities abroad

Invariably any management position will have exposure to managing or working with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I am currently on an international assignment based at one of our US sites, which has given me a deeper appreciation of the different working styles and culture as compared to the UK. Whilst over here, I’ve also realised that although Rolls-Royce is one global organisation, processes and job roles can be different due mainly to company acquisitions as a method of expansion.

This international experience has highlighted to me the importance of keeping a flexible attitude, of open communication and the need to demonstrate the correct behaviours.

Focussing on cost reduction

One of the skills I’ve had to develop out here has been stakeholder management. Although I only officially report to one manager, I am also assisting two other workstream owners as part of a cost reduction initiative. My daily activities can be anything from attending cost reviews, liaising with sub-system managers for information for our next financial forecast, editing reports, assisting with presentations to phoning suppliers and chasing up quotes.

This week, it’s been my priority to assist the manufacturing workstream with compiling data and information to present to a wider internal audience across various functions; the aim is to obtain approval to use an improved inspection technique that has significant cost reduction potential.

As such, we’ve had a meeting with the supplier of the new technology to further understand the benefits of using the equipment, the initial capital investment required and their capacity to meet our requirements. We need to evaluate how ready the current supply chain is to implement this new technique so I’ve been speaking with our suppliers to understand their current capability.

I’ve also been going through various departments to figure out the average inspection time for the relevant components in order to assess on which components there would be the most significant cost reduction benefits. Other considerations will be the transition time required in terms of installation and calibration of the new equipment, the cost and time commitment required to train the relevant personnel in using the new equipment, identifying which applicable sites will be the first to pilot the equipment and thus developing a phased plan for full scale implementation.

What I enjoy most about my job

The variety of daily interactions that comes with the job is the most enjoyable aspect. In any large company it’s easy to greet colleagues without knowing what they do on a daily basis. Needing information from experts or getting status updates from each function or workgroup with input to the project enables me to understand a bit more about what they do.

Challenges I have encountered

Starting work in a large global organisation can be a daunting prospect. There are so many processes to understand, people to remember and procedures to follow. Needing to navigate through numerous departments to find the right answer can sometimes seem arduous but ultimately means I speak with colleagues that I wouldn’t have necessarily had the opportunity to meet.

Lessons learnt

The advice I have isn’t anything new and anyone reading this article will have heard it before and it is to network! I was never keen on the idea of only speaking to people with a self-motivated interest but have come to understand that this was a rather naïve perspective. Networking is more about expanding the circle of people you know across your organisation and/or industry with the benefit that you become more knowledgeable and in turn hopefully more effective at your job.

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