‘How I found my place in the engineering industry’

Anna Urquhart-Hussey
First-hand: Anna Urquhart-Hussey shares her experiences within the industry

Anna Urquhart-Hussey has a master’s degree in engineering, and has found a STEM role that satisfies her passion for both project and people management

As a child, Babcock International Group business operations management graduate Anna Urquhart-Hussey used to pester her teachers for information about why or how different things happen. At 23, her natural curiosity remains undimmed.

While just 43 per cent of Anna’s graduate programme cohort has a technical background, the knowledge she developed via an MEng in Aerospace Engineering with Management at the University of Manchester gives her an important advantage.

It takes a lot of people from many different backgrounds to keep a complex organisation like Babcock operatingAnna Urquhart-Hussey

“Although I’m certainly no expert on the nuts and bolts side of the business, I believe my degree gives me credibility with the technicians,” she says. “One recent placement involved me being based at the hangars two days a week; I can now see the operation from the bottom up as well as the top down, and that new perspective has certainly helped.”

While her conviction that it was management, rather than pure engineering, that would interest her the most crystallised while she was studying, Anna is keen to stress that the range of satisfying career roles available at Babcock are by no means limited to STEM.

“One third-year university project in particular, which was to design a system to de-orbit a satellite, clearly showed me that while I very much enjoyed working with the chief engineer and the other technicians on the team, I was also very interested in the people.”

“Making sure that the human side and the engineering side worked well together and that each member of the team carried out their own particular task, helped convince me that the management strand of my course had the edge as a future career for me.”

Insight and variety

After being selected for the Royal Navy’s highly prestigious Undergraduate Leadership Internship, Anna met and worked with a number of Babcock personnel. It was their enthusiasm, she says, together with their “willingness to answer all my questions” that convinced her Babcock should figure high on her list of potential employers.

Now in year one of her two-year graduate training programme at Babcock, Anna stresses that being able to experience different aspects of the aerospace industry before deciding on her ultimate specialism is proving “incredibly helpful”.

Captivated: children enjoy exhibits at the Big Bang [UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair]

“It takes a lot of people from many different backgrounds, including technical and academic, to keep a complex organisation like Babcock operating and because there are so many potential career routes to choose from, trying before you buy is essential,” she says. “Having already had a placement in the UK military aviation business, I am now moving on to a role in the engineering and capability team in Babcock’s Aviation sector, which operates across our civil and defence aviation operations.

Being able to experience different aspects of the aerospace industry before deciding on her ultimate specialism is proving “incredibly helpful

“The opportunity to see the civil side and to use more of my technical knowledge on specific engineering projects will be really exciting.”

At Manchester, Anna was a STEM ambassador and she continues to be passionate about inspiring the next generation to consider applying for both engineering and non-engineering roles across the sector.

“I was very involved in creating a miniature hand-made wind tunnel for the Babcock stand at the Big Bang [UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair] earlier this month, and in the future I hope I’ll be able to visit schools even more regularly,” she says. “I want more students to think outside the box when it comes to looking at the opportunities that could be available when they graduate, particularly as many of the jobs they may go into aren’t even in existence yet.

“As for me, I will continue to ask those difficult questions and to build on my current level of knowledge.”

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