Sophie Caffrey

16 April 2019
Fourth Year Technical Apprentice

Meet Sophie, a Technical Apprentice who has achieved plenty since joining Leonardo in 2015, including being named in the Women's Engineering Society's 2019 Top 50 Women in Engineering, winning the inaugural FDM Everywoman in Technology Apprentice Award in 2018 and being a finalist in the IET's 2017 Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award. 

What did you study at school?

I covered virtually everything at GCSE, achieving 13 A*- B qualifications. I also completed my Level 2 BTEC in Aviation Studies through Air Cadets.

I didn’t study anything obviously engineering-related at A-Level: Biology, English Language, Health and Social Care. However, I’m glad I did my A-Levels, as it has given me that little bit more experience.

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

I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. I couldn’t write a convincing personal statement because I simply had too many options. I always thought I’d go to university but I was only really interested in getting the degree, I didn’t think the ‘uni lifestyle’ was really for me. I realised that doing an Apprenticeship was a win-win situation as I would be earning money, gaining work experience and qualifications, and may even have the chance to complete my degree.

What is your current role at Leonardo?

I currently work in Applied Research, looking at new and emerging technologies. Since beginning my apprenticeship in 2015, I have predominantly worked in Hardware Engineering, designing and developing schematics and printed circuit boards (PCBs). In 2016, I developed a test interface board for BriteCloud 218, working with Lead and Design Engineers to support the fulfilment of their customer requirements. My design has now been used in trials across the globe.

My Story: Sophie Caffrey – Portrait of an Engineer (IET)

Tell us about a typical week

My weeks vary significantly but that’s what makes my apprenticeship scheme great, I am always confronted with new challenges and opportunities. Within my placement in Applied Research, some weeks I participate in flight trials, some weeks I am analysing data, and some weeks I am working with new groups of people. But I am always thinking of how to solve the problems presented to me. I also have quite a large involvement in the STEM/ outreach side of the business, so I help out with activities like our RI Masterclass series and careers fairs.

What do you like most about your job?

My role in the company affords me the opportunity to inspire younger individuals to consider a career in engineering through a wide range of local and national STEM activities. In my time with Leonardo, I have been involved with such events as the Big Bang Fair and our annual Rampaging Chariots tournaments. I also love the passion of my colleagues; everyone I have worked with goes out of their way to make sure the right information is passed on to you. People aren’t afraid to take time out of their day to teach you, which is so valuable.

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

In February 2018, I won the inaugural FDM Everywoman in Technology Apprentice Award, which was a huge honour. This followed me being a finalist in the IET’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year (YWE) Awards on the 40th anniversary of the prize, in December 2017.

I was also so honoured to be named in the Women's Engineering Society's 2019 Top 50 Women in Engineering list. It’s incredible to be included with so many women passionate about engineering. Since joining Leonardo, I’ve had the opportunity to develop a really fulfilling career and hope my story inspires others to do the same!"

See Sophie in action at the 2017 Big Bang Show and the 2017 Rampaging Chariots tournament.