Connie’s career with BAE Systems actually started in 1998 in Christchurch, Dorset, as a Software Engineer and Human Computer Interface Team Leader on the BOWMAN project - a command and control communication management system which allowed frontline soldiers to maintain tactical radio communication with other Forces. She then moved into a Project Management role for Sampson Radar, a state-of-the-art, multi-function radar for the Type 45 Ship, in 2001.
During this early part of her career, Connie decided to undertake a Doctorate with Bournemouth University and also secured a Chartered Engineer qualification. As part of the Doctorate, Connie looked into ways to resolve knowledge-management issues within BAE Systems using leading-edge technology. Forming a link with Microsoft USA, who visited the site and assisted in the application of the technology, the research was shared across the business to assist in future developments.
Connie made the decision to leave BAE Systems in 2002 to spend time with her family and raise her two daughters. She had always intended to return to a career in STEM soon after having children, however this career break extended to 16 years after her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Connie therefore spent much of this time helping her father to care for her mother, before she sadly passed away in 2016.
After a period of bereavement, Connie started to re-visit the possibility of returning to the world of STEM, and after applying for a number of jobs with no response or feedback, she decided to contact the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for support and was put in touch with Dawn Bonfield MBE, the former Chief Executive at the Women’s Engineering Society (WES).
Dawn informed Connie about the various companies that were operating a scheme called ‘Returners to STEM’ and helped distribute her CV to them. This in turn re-connected Connie with BAE Systems, who offered her the role of Senior Systems Engineer on the design and build of Type 26 in January 2018.
Since returning, Connie has become an active STEM Ambassador again, mentoring BAE Systems graduates and apprentices upon joining the business, as well as encouraging and inspiring girls to consider STEM careers.
Connie said: “I would recommend contacting IET and WES for anyone who has had a career break, no matter how long they have been out of their previous STEM role. The Returners to STEM programme and support from IET and WES, thankfully allowed me to apply for my current role with BAE Systems. The personnel involved boosted my confidence, gave me hope and supported me through a difficult time when I could so easily have given up.
“After a significant number of years away from the business, it was great to know that my previous experience was still of value and felt fantastic to be welcomed back to BAE Systems with open arms. BAE Systems’ sponsorship of the STEM Returners programme encouraged me that I didn’t actually need to secure another academic qualification, as there were many alternatives I could consider.”