From graduate trainee and apprentice programmes to internships and placements, technology leaders like McLaren and Toro Rosso are opening their doors to students and experienced engineers with the right skills and attitudes. We asked our experienced alumni to share their career paths and advice with all those who aspire to work in these exciting, technologically advanced industries.
From the top of McLaren Racing:
Chief Operating Officer
McLaren Technology Group
“To work for McLaren you need to understand what it takes to win and accept the peer challenge which comes from being surrounded by brilliant and competitive people.
"We don’t want the ‘universal soldier’ who is good from end to end because that's asking more than is humanly possible.
"We just ask people to bring their talent and curiosity to the table and be bloody good at it.
"Collaboration is also important. No-one works in isolation and team work is paramount for high performance organisations.
“I wouldn’t worry too much if you don’t know what path is right for you when you’re young. The only game plan I had was to build solid foundations and keep my options open.
"Remember that employability is not just about a technical or professional skill, but also about how you relate to other people and the environment around you.
"Always look at the world through curious, rather than sharp, eyes".
"After University, I joined the defence industry with Philips. I started off doing calculations to detect missiles– by hand! After that I did five years in electronic naval warfare technology for surface ships and submarines. After a period of about 5 years I left Philips and joined the commercial aircraft division of British Aerospace in Manchester.
"Initially I worked with a team developing stall warning systems on aircraft and gained experience on the workshops in production management. I was lucky enough to work at a number of sites including Jetstream Aircraft in Scotland. Eventually I became a Site Director at Brough in Yorkshire and Project Director for the Hawk, a military training aircraft programme for UK and export markets. I learned so much during this time.
“I initially sent the head-hunters from McLaren away when they called but I also knew that I risked becoming typecast within the aerospace and defence sector if I stayed too long. So I explored the motorsport sector and found a lot of crossover technologies – both involve a lot of science and engineering ranging from materials technology, electronics, systems, software and engines- not forgetting a man in the cockpit!
"What attracted me was the speed and agility of motorsport development – defence projects sometimes move much more slowly and with huge complexity.
“I joined McLaren Racing as operations director in 2001 to oversee the race team’s operations and engineering processes and became managing director in 2004, before chief operating officer and acting CEO in 2014. In 2015 I became Chief Operating Officer for the McLaren Technology Group. I didn’t imagine for a minute that I would be here for 17 years but McLaren becomes part of who you are."
From the top of McLaren Applied Technologies:
From the top of McLaren's finance team:
Andy Myers Production Engineering, 1986Group Chief Financial Officer and Group Board Director
McLaren Technology Group
“Firstly, find a way to align your passions with your work. For me, it has always been cars.
"When I was at Rolls Royce PLC, I was offered a fantastic job as their investor relations director. But when I had a call from a head hunter working for McLaren, I told my boss at Rolls Royce I was leaving right then.
“Secondly, if you get the opportunity to go abroad and work – just do it. Don't think about friends; boyfriend; girlfriend; whatever. What you’ll get out of working abroad will stay with you for life and you’ll return home bigger, better and stronger because of it.”
"I graduated from Nottingham University in 1986 with a BEng in Production Engineering and Production Management. I then spent the next 7 years with KPMG qualifying as a Chartered Accountant working on Corporate Recovery projects as well as in Audit.
"After this, I joined Rover Group and moved to Bulgaria, working as Finance Director in a new joint venture, returning to the UK to focus on improving productivity at the Rover Oxford Plant. I moved to Rolls Royce Plc as Finance Director in 2000, and was promoted to CFO of the Energy Sector, based in Washington DC.
"I then joined McLaren Technology Group Ltd as Chief Financial Officer in 2004 and am responsible for Finance, IT and Strategic Procurement. I’ve been here 12 years – McLaren is a fast growing company that never stands still. Once you get on this rollercoaster, you don’t want to get off!”
The McLaren Applied Technologies data scientist:
From the world of McLaren Automotive:
“We all have a dream somewhere deep inside us. If your dream is to make the fastest, most amazing cars in the world then work out what steps you need to take to make that dream real. Stand out by getting as much work experience and knowledge as you can in the industry or related sectors.
“People rarely get what they want first time, so be persistent and resilient. If the doors don’t open, find other doors and new routes. Sometimes an unexpected opportunity will tap you on the shoulder – saying yes is usually a very good thing!
“I remember a colleague describing all the different jobs they did while building their career. Eventually they got the job they really wanted but only because of all the expertise and skills they had gathered through all their previous roles. It’s also true for me – the way that I’m able to work now is thanks to everything that I learnt as part of the race team and before.
“Finally, don’t be afraid to seek support. In a company like McLaren, as you move through roles you make connections for life. Be open to learning from the best and don’t be intimidated – it will push you to grow and develop.”
Mechanical Engineering, 1996
McLaren Automotive Ltd
"After working for Ricardo automotive as a NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) engineer, I joined McLaren in 1998 as a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer. From the first moment I arrived I was impressed with the facilities and investment McLaren put into development.”
“I had always wanted to be a race engineer so was delighted to take up a technical role within the test team. I worked as part of the Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton eras, and was thrilled to help Lewis secure the world F1 title.”
“I then moved to work for McLaren Automotive, working my up to Chief Engineer of the new Vehicle Programme. Helping build McLaren Automotive up to the status it has today has been a massive but exceptionally rewarding challenge. We started as new entrants to the market in 2010 and had to develop our dealer network at the same time as a whole new car. I believe we build the best supercars in the world.“
The Technical Director at Scuderia Toro Rosso:
The Head of Structures at Sahara Force India:
“University taught me that if you have the right knowledge, anything is possible.
"I always enjoyed the technical aspect of engineering but what thrills me about motorsport is the number and pace of projects.
"You have to enjoy the pressures that come with the results of your labour being seen so immediately and visibly on TV.
“Formula Student (FS) provides an excellent introduction to future engineers interested in the industry. It’s a student engineering competition held annually in the UK, where student teams from around the world design, build, test, and race a small-scale formula style racing car.
“To be successful, you need a positive mindset and goal-orientated attitude. When the pressure is on, it how you respond that matters.
"Keep a balance in life – time away will help you stay focused and help you thrive when it matters.
Mechanical Engineering, 1993
Head of Structures
Sahara Force India
"I have always enjoyed the technical aspect of engineering and Formula 1 has a frenetic pace, which makes for an exciting environment. After completing my PhD in Mechanical Engineering, I got my fist position within Formula 1 as a design analyst for Jordan F1, and now work as head of structural engineering at Force India (formally Jordan F1).”
“My motivation comes from putting the car out on the grid. We are always looking for the edge and I enjoy the challenge created by continuous technological development and regulation change within the industry. In Formula 1, you never stand still.”
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