For many, joining a company as big as BAE Systems straight onto the Graduate Scheme is a big deal. Fresh out of university and having to embed in a new company, learning their processes, embedding in the work that we do and getting to grips with workload isn’t easy but for Procurement Graduate, Rhian, this was just one of many challenges she tackled in a year.

Following an internship with BAE Systems during her degree, Rhian knew that joining the Graduate Scheme was the right path for her which she did in September 2020. Whilst this would be a daunting task anyway, Rhian, and the rest of her cohort, joined during the height of the pandemic, meeting her team remotely and having to navigate her role via a computer screen and endless Skype calls – no mean feat.

Rhian had been an Army Reservist since her University days and knowing BAE Systems was a supportive employer, and part of the Armed Forces Covenant, was one of the reasons she applied for the Graduate scheme. Keen to progress in her Reservist career Rhian spent two months, with the company’s support, to undertake officer training and she proudly commissioned in July 2021 joining the Princess of Wales’s Royal regiment with her Company based in North London.
 
Rhian sat in front of war memorial soldier silhouettes and two poppies
Back at work Rhian moved through a number of roles across the Air Sector before an opportunity presented itself in early 2022 to be deployed as a Visits Officer as part of the Falklands 40th Anniversary.

After speaking to her line manager and informing them this would mean she would be away from work for nearly three months at very short notice she got the green light.
 
My line manager and team were brilliant. They understood what this opportunity would mean not only for my reservist role but also my development in terms of what I can bring back to the company too. They were fantastic working with HR to enable me to get the time off and have a smooth transition so I didn’t have to worry about anything while I was deployed overseas" Rhian, Procurement Graduate and Army Reservist
 

Her stint in The Falkland Islands consisted of managing the visits of One and Two Star Generals, Paratroopers and Royal Marines as they visited the islands to mark the 40th anniversary of the conflict. Rhian needed in-depth knowledge of the terrain and islands in order to conduct and plan these escorted visits and she very quickly learnt to think on her feet, be organised, flexible and self-sufficient. Working with limited resource and comms/signals she developed her communications skills and built relationships with those also on the ground to ensure the visits ran smoothly. Not only did she learn many other skills such as leadership, communication skills and soft skills, but she got to meet troops, attend the memorial service and parade and more importantly learn first-hand about the conflict. On top of that she made the most of the limited down-time available to her by exploring the islands and seeing the penguins – something the Falklands Islands are also famous for when not overshadowed by the conflict.
 
Returning to the workplace she is bestowed with a new set of transferable skills and a greater appreciation of the work we do for our customer after seeing our contribution from a new perspective.

Rhian continued by saying: “I am so pleased to have been given this opportunity and grateful to the company for being so supportive. As a member of VetNet I was given further support outside of my team and it was great to know I could call upon the expertise of ex-serving members to get help and advice from those that had been deployed before. My colleague Drew has been especially helpful. I learnt so much whilst in the Falkland Islands, and that, along with my commission at Sandhurst, has developed me massively.”
 
I am proud of what Rhian has achieved as a reservist and know how hard she has worked to juggle both of her careers. The whole Airframe team has supported her in her ambitions and will continue to champion our strong links with the armed forces." Julie, Rhian's Line Manager

As Army Reservist for the past five years, working at the rank of Second Lieutenant, Rhian can go on to working within the Joint Force Environment in different locations globally.

Rhian will soon be leaving the Air Sector to take up an exciting new role in our Digital Intelligence business, and we're delighted to have been able to support her this far with her career in BAE Systems and Army Reservists - Good luck Rhian!
 
 

Armed Forces Covenant

Image of Armed Forces Covenant Gold Award MoD Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award
 
In 2013, we were the first Defence Company to sign the UK Armed Forces Covenant. BAE Systems was also one of the first six winners of the MoD Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award, which recognises an organisation’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant. We are proud to have held this status continuously since the Scheme began in July 2014.
 

VETNET

Image showing the Vetnet logo
Our UK employee resource group
 
Set up and run by employees, the VetNet employee resource group offers camaraderie and support to BAE Systems employees who served in the armed forces as well as employees who are also reservists.