Yolanda Bullen

Electronic Engineering Apprentice

Yolanda Bullen

What did you study at school?

I went to Sharnbrook Upper School in north Bedford where I left after my A Levels, my favourite subjects at school were maths and electronics. I had a very inspirational maths teacher who first motivated me to do STEM subjects and this is where my passion for these subjects has stemmed from. I enjoyed electronics as well; I liked solving real life problems by using what I had learnt in maths and putting a creative spin on it to come up with a solution. After my A levels I decided to study electronic engineering full time at Bedford College.


Why did you think an apprenticeship was the right path for your career development?

At school I had very little knowledge of what an apprenticeship was and what it entailed. I had applied to universities and had several offers however, after learning more about the apprenticeship route and studying alongside other apprentices at Bedford College, I decided this would be the right path for me. I wanted to start applying what I had learnt to a real life job and I felt Leonardo would support me in doing so. For me learning whilst earning is unquestionably the best way of furthering your career.


What attracted you to the Leonardo apprenticeship scheme?

For me the main attraction to Leonardo was that they actively encourage you to move departments whilst on the apprenticeship. I knew I wanted to be an electronics engineer however I was not aware of how many different departments there would be within one sector. Leonardo is very flexible and accommodating meaning that if you have an ambition to pursue your career in a certain area your placements can be moulded around this. 


What is your current position in Leonardo?

I am currently in my third year of my apprenticeship and I am working within my chosen field in hardware. This is with the desire to become a hardware engineer after my apprenticeship.  I work specifically within the circuit design area where I create schematics for cutting edge new technology.


Tell us about a typical week?

For me every week is different and hugely varied. The work that I get involve in can differ from PBC (Printed Circuit Board) creation, to researching new components for new equipment, to changing schematics for updates of older equipment. I am also very involved in promoting the apprenticeship and STEM subjects. This involves going into schools, creating and overseeing projects that students take part in, I give presentations about the apprenticeship scheme at Leonardo and take part in careers fairs.  I am also part of a group at work where try to improve the working environment and process at Leonardo, this has given me the opportunity to work closely with senior managers and further my career.


What do you like most about your job?

The most enjoyable part of my job is the variation in it; I am rarely doing the same thing two days in a row.  I have been given some fantastic chances, for example going on some flight trials for some of our new equipment. I also work with customers and have worked with members of the RAF to understand what they want from our systems.


What has been your best moment/biggest achievement as a Leonardo apprentice so far?

One of my biggest achievements at Leonardo is winning ‘Apprentice of The Year’; it was fantastic to be appreciated for the hard work and enthusiasm that I put into my work every day. Another very proud moment for me was when I was working on a project for 6 months and won ‘Team of the Month’ and ‘Recognising Excellence’ awards. The team that I was working in at the time comprised me and two other apprentices. This was a very proud moment for us as these are company-wide awards and we were presented the awards from the Senior VP of Electronic Warfare (EW). This was the first occasion an apprentice had won these awards and it was wonderful to be acknowledged for the work we had done on a project.


What do you hope to do next?

I aim to complete my apprenticeship with a HND in electrical and electronic engineering. I aspire to become a well-rounded and respected engineer within my chosen area of hardware. A longer term goal would to become a functional lead of a department, as I would be able to integrate my engineering knowledge with my skills of being a ‘people person’.


Why should aspiring 'Business Men/Women consider an Apprenticeship at Leonardo?

I believe that the apprenticeship at Leonardo is ideal for aspiring business men and women. You are exposed to some of the latest technology and given opportunities that many others would not be. You are always recognised as a valuable member of the team you work in and always work with people that are willing to help you and widen your knowledge. For me the only regret that I have is not joining the apprenticeship at Leonardo earlier!