Matthew Farrell

20 June 2019
Graduate Mechanical Engineer

Meet Matthew. A strong sense of community, a variety of work and the opportunity to work with colleagues from across the UK and Italy are just some of the reasons he's enjoyed being a Graduate Mechanical Engineer on Leonardo's two-year graduate scheme.

Tell us about yourself

I am a Graduate Mechanical Engineer based at our Southampton site. I originally joined the business back in 2012 as a ‘CAD technician’ in my home town of Bristol while I was studying for a BTEC national level 3 extended diploma in engineering. I worked two days a week during term and then full time during the holidays. The company then sponsored me to take a degree in Design Engineering at Bournemouth University, during which time I completed a year in industry as a ‘Mechanical industrial placement’ in Southampton. I finally returned to Leonardo after my studies in September 2017 to take up my place on our two-year graduate scheme.

Throughout my time working for the company, the things that have kept me most interested are the design and technology we get to work on – the more sensitive the work, the more interesting it becomes. In the future, my ambition is to take on more of a managerial role, having overall control of a project rather than a part of the project.

Why did you join Leonardo?

I originally heard about Leonardo (then ‘Selex’) through a family friend, who told me the company was looking for someone to do some work on CAD for them. I decided to apply, and following an interview, I gained a place as a ‘CAD technician’ at IAS (Integrated Antenna Solutions) in Bristol. The type of work I was doing at that time was really interesting – the vast majority of projects had just started and a lot of time was spent on prototyping and coming up with new and innovative designs for a variety of applications.

What does life on the Graduate Programme entail?

When starting the Graduate Programme in September 2017, the first two days were jam-packed with information, but this was to be expected with so much detail to go through. However, it helped that the graduate community in Southampton is very helpful and everyone committed to taking time to help each other, which I think was one of the best features about starting in Southampton.

On joining the graduate scheme, I was quickly getting the opportunity to travel for the business and work on a variety of project areas across our Land and Naval business including Optronics, Avionics and Soldier Systems. Working in so many different areas gave me a huge opportunity to broaden my knowledge and experience, and constantly kept me engaged and developing.

My role on a day-to-day basis varies a lot; I can either be working on multiple projects in different areas of the business (having to manage my time efficiently to meet each project’s priorities) or on a single project working on an entire system across multiple areas. This is why I like my role – it is very, very diverse and you have to be constantly adapting and learning new things to suit the needs of the project and the customer.

As part of my job, I get to travel to other UK sites; your role dictates how much you travel. However, as part of the graduate scheme, you get to travel not only to Edinburgh, Luton and Basildon, but also to Italy to our company sites in Rome and Milan.

How are you preparing for the International Graduate Conference?

Although most of my graduate modules are run within the UK, Leonardo’s graduate scheme is internationally run. As part of our two final graduate modules, we get to work as a transnational team with our colleagues in Italy on a project to present at the graduate conference.

Working with our Italian counterparts has been really helpful in understanding how different cultures work and has allowed us to develop and adapt ours ways of working as a result of experience gained from working with each other.

Personally, my favourite part of the graduate scheme has been the opportunity to network. The fact that from day one on the first module you’re all in the same boat, but that you all don’t know each other ‘really’, means you have to talk to new people and learn interesting things from everyone’s backgrounds. From then you just become friends, which to me is the most important thing as it makes working together and presenting in the later modules much easier and more enjoyable.