I am sometimes asked, how did I get here? And I always reply, I didn’t do it by myself; throughout my career I have benefited from some great role models and supporters, helping me with belief in myself and of course, there was a lot of hard work and dedication!
Part of being a leader is about taking responsibility to nurture and develop talent, as well as inspiring the next generation.
Having positive role models within the STEM industry is crucial; simply because for young people, it is easier to be what you can see. We need to work together to break down stereotypes. I remember being at school and starting to think about my career; I had two fantastic and inspiring role models – my physics and maths teachers. They helped to show how we use these subjects in the real world, within our daily lives, to improve people’s quality of life and it made me want to be involved! Career advice in the late 80s was fairly restricted and stereotypical but these teachers broke the mould and made a huge difference to me.
Likewise, my father also played a huge part in my career choice; he worked in the shipyard in Clydebank and put himself through nautical college at night. He went onto become a marine engineer and he always told my siblings and I that there were no limits!
In 1991 I started on a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) with British Rail; effectively an apprenticeship in Civil Engineering and went to night school to attain Civil Engineering qualifications. I was able to progress my technical knowledge and awareness through site work on the tools, in the drawing office and through different project experiences. After that and in my own time, I went on to study for a Master’s Degree in Project Management from Aberdeen University; studying at nights and during weekends.
...my father also played a huge part in my career choice; he worked in the shipyard in Clydebank and put himself through nautical college at night. He went onto become a marine engineer and he always told my siblings and I that there were no limits!
Nadia Savage, Type 26 Programme Director
I’ve been fortunate to work on a number of large scale complex engineering programmes such as the Manchester Metro and High Speed 2 Rail programmes before taking on the Type 26 Programme Director role. There are many similarities between defence and construction, especially when it comes to diversity statistics. However I am very encouraged by the volume of good work going on within BAE Systems to improve the gender balance and diversity generally. I was pleasantly surprised when I looked into our gender balance statistics – across the company it is around 12% females but when you look to the graduate and apprentice intakes it’s up at 25%. This is a good indicator of the pipeline coming through, especially when we employ 95% of the apprentices who complete our training scheme. The balance isn’t there yet, but it’s a long term strategy and we’re making good improvements; and it is important to remember that an inclusive culture benefits everyone in the work place. We need to continue to role model, inspire and educate our young people – show them the value in choosing STEM subjects and the breadth of career choices available to them.
So what would my advice be to young adults choosing companies to apply for? Look for companies who want to invest in your development and offer sustained development opportunity that lead to a secure employment proposition. Remember, it’s not just about academic elements and qualifications but also about support to develop essential skills such as communication, adaptability and problem solving. Look about you for inspiration, in my experience role models make a difference.
Finally, to quote my father remember; “there are no limits”.