Explore: Environment

R&D Programme Leader

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Chris O

00:00:02 My name’s Chris O, my job title is Research and Development Programme Leader. The main responsibilities that I have are to deliver a programme of research and development activities. In my case it’s – these activities are focused on the low carbon energy technologies. So we’re investing in a range of technologies that aim to reduce significantly the emissions of CO2.

00:00:32 I studied Aeronautical Engineering at University, Aerospace. And that took me to Rolls Royce initially. They invited me to spend a summer with them. So I did, and at the end of that summer I was sponsored for my final year of University. And at the end of that year when I graduated, they recruited me permanently. So I spent then about the next eight years working for Rolls Royce. Initially on gas turbines for the Eurofighter.

00:01:04 And then I decided I really wanted to have a future in business management properly, so I went back to University, and I studied a Masters degree in Business at Bath University. So going from eight years of working in industry, back to University full time was – was an interesting experience. A bit of a shock, nice change from working in industry, but a very intensive course – an MBA course is very intensive. It’s not as easy as a Bachelor’s degree, it’s a very different type of experience.

00:01:39 When I was at school I was good at most subjects. I was particularly strong on Maths and Sciences. I went to school in Canada, when I was a teenager as well. So I had an experience there for three years, and I finished my High School in Canada. My father was offered work over there, and so he – he was keen to take us and – the rest of the family over there, and to enjoy that experience.

00:02:06 As soon as you’ve travelled, you know, abroad, at a young age, you know, you only want to do it more and more, I think. So, you know, whether it’s for work or personal, you know, holiday I’ve, you know, I’ve been to most of the States in America now, I’ve seen a lot of Canada. And, you know, always enjoy the opportunity to get away from work and go off on some travels, yeah.

00:02:28 I think this is one of the things isn’t it you’ve got to do, is to find even, you know, even more new interests, you know, as you get older. So I got into sailing and then into scuba diving. I got my Competent Crew, and my Day Skipper qualifications. So that was, you know, just I think an example you know of the kind of personal achievement I’ve – I’ve got in the last few years.

00:02:50 You look up to certain mentors if you like, and good companies like E.ON and Rolls Royce have – usually have mentoring schemes, so that you can connect with a more senior manager in the business. And these are very often the people who can open the door to new opportunities. I think it’s those sorts of people that – it’s very important that you find those, you know, during your career.

00:03:15 For me professionally the next five to ten years, I think, will be to, you know, develop my new career at E.ON, and in this industry, which is relatively new for me. I think beyond, that it’s hard to tell. I’m quite ambitious, but I think at the moment I’m very happy actually in this role, this is a very – for me this is perhaps the best job I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some good jobs, you know, and I’ve worked for some good companies. But this company is very proactive, it shows good leadership, and the quality of the people makes all the difference really, I think.

00:03:45 ENDS

A degree in aeronautical engineering led Chris O to a job at Rolls Royce. Eight years on he realised his interest lay in business management. Retraining opened the door to his research and development (reducing carbon emissions) post at E.ON. Chris combines his rewarding work with challenging out of work activities and is passionate about travel.

More information about Design and development engineers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

96%  male 
4%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Design and development engineers conceive engineering designs from product ideas or requirements in mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering.
Design and development engineers usually possess an accredited university degree or equivalent qualification. All routes are followed by periods of appropriate training and relevant experience in order to qualify for membership of a chartered engineering institution. Incorporated engineers possess an accredited university degree, BTEC/SQA award or an apprenticeship leading to an NVQ/SVQ at Level 4.
  • Assesses product requirements, including costs, manufacturing feasibility and market requirements;
  • Prepares working designs for steam, aero, turbine, marine and electrical engines, mechanical instruments, aircraft and missile structures, vehicle and ship structures, plant and machinery equipment, domestic electrical appliances, building systems and services, and electronic computing and telecommunications equipment;
  • Arranges construction and testing of model or prototype and modifies design if necessary;
  • Produces final design information for use in preparation of layouts, parts lists, etc.;
  • Prepares specifications for materials and other components.
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