From Aircraft Apprentice to IT Engineer: a path of opportunities

Martin Smith, Service Desk Team Lead

The recent launch of The 5% Club – a QinetiQ-led initiative to encourage UK businesses to take an active role in addressing high levels of youth unemployment and chronic skills shortages – got me thinking about my own career path at QinetiQ.

In 1990, I began a four-year Aircraft Engines and Airframes apprenticeship at Boscombe Down, but in 1994 took a role as a Logistics Coordinator for Stores, which I thoroughly enjoyed for three years. During that time, I often found myself helping people with their IT issues – although self-taught, I had a lot of interest in this field – so when the Conferencing Team at Boscombe needed some additional help with technical support, I saw it as a great opportunity to build upon these skills and interests. When the Conference Manager left I was promoted to the role; I continued to build a good reputation, and when an IT Desktop Engineer role arose, I was invited to apply.

Martin Smith

Martin Smith at ETPS

The role enabled me to build up my knowledge of networks, servers, and get a much broader understanding of IT, so much so that a year later I became responsible for managing the IT requirements of the Empire Test Pilots’ School. I felt incredibly privileged to be involved in that area and loved being part of the Aircraft Test and Evaluation aspect of QinetiQ’s work.

I then began to spend more time at our Farnborough site as part of a ‘Red Team’ task force put together to address peaks of work. My skill set improved even further and sharpened my ability to troubleshoot broader issues.

About four years ago I was asked to be the engineer looking after the senior management team in Farnborough, which I readily accepted, and last year I was appointed Team Leader of Farnborough Desktop Support, based on my other experience with QinetiQ.

QinetiQ gives its apprentices the opportunity to do so much, and my case proves that what you start off doing doesn’t necessarily set your future career in stone. My apprentice background has also been useful in giving me empathy with our current apprentices.

The fact that what I do makes a difference, whether it’s finding solutions to people’s problems or giving them advice to help them do their jobs properly, and to be slick and professional, from an IT perspective, is what motivates me. I want people in QinetiQ to be able to say that the IT Department is awesome! I have a very good team who are motivated; in my book having the right attitude is as important as having the skills.

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One thought on “From Aircraft Apprentice to IT Engineer: a path of opportunities

  1. I am interested in any Management Vacancies within QinetiQ, I have served in HM Forces Army for the past 25 years due out in April 2014, I reached the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 Regimental Sergeant Major in the Royal Logistic Corps. I have my own house in Amesbury so Boscombe Down would be ideal, but also willing to travel.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Alan Marston