All posts by David Kimbell

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How on Earth Does This Place WORK? Continued

As I said in the last post, in every office . . . .

All is not as it seems.

In every office, in every university, in every street gang, in places of worship, in organized charities . . . . . there is office politics.

Every human being entering a room brings a soul, an ego, a temperament, a collection of past experiences, values, joys, and fears, etc. Some positive, some negative.

It affects how they interact with other individuals. It affects how they interact in groups of people.

You’ve experienced this already, of course. It exists in every community of people who meet daily to share common values or achieve common aims.

What you may not know is the degree to which it can make a mockery of org charts.

It is quite possible, for example, for a programme manager or integrator to have less real influence than a section head or a project manager. On the surface, one should have more authority and influence than the other, but in practice, because of temperament or personality, the reverse is true.

Just understand that for every org chart you see, there is an unofficial org chart that isn’t written down anywhere, but that everybody has in their heads.

Get familiar with that unofficial org chart. Learn to work with it. It can save you a lot of time and heartache in the long run.

Here are some of the “unofficial” job functions you will meet:

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How on Earth Does This Place WORK? Continued

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How on Earth Does This Place WORK?

Once you’ve got that first engineering job, you’ll have to deal with an array of new faces, names, job titles and processes. Someone will probably push a series of organizational charts (org charts, for short) in front of you, illustrating the hierarchy and reporting structure of the company, the department you’re in, who does what, who reports to whom, etc, etc.

It will be bewildering at first.

It will be bewildering later on, when you change departments or companies. A whole new set of face, names, processes, etc.

These org charts exist in aerospace companies for two reasons. One is obvious: Just as a map helps you navigate from one place to another, an org chart helps people understand how to interact with each other day-to-day.

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How on Earth Does This Place WORK?

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How am I Going to Get an Aerospace Job? 5 Tips – continued

(This post follows on from Post 8 – How an I Going to Get an Aerospace Job? 5 Tips)

TIP #3: RECRUITERS ARE NOT YOUR ENEMY EITHER

Don’t forget that if the recruiter does his/her work well, you stand to benefit. Possibly for a lifetime. You get an interview with the hiring company. The company likes you. You get a second interview. They still like you.

Then you get a job.

Bingo.

Everybody’s happy. (For now, at least.)

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How am I Going to Get an Aerospace Job? 5 Tips – continued

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How am I Going to Get an Aerospace Job? 5 Tips

How am I going to get an aerospace job?

I hear you.

As I type this, I’ve taken several months off, to focus on several entrepreneurial initiatives (including writing this series of posts). That’s several months without any cash coming in. I’ve now got to line up some paying work, to keep my family fed and clothed.

It’s not easy. I hope you’ve taken onboard what I said earlier about self-confidence being your most important skill. Nowhere does it matter more than here. I’ve been out of work several times in my career, sometimes by choice, sometimes not.

View the search for work as an opportunity to invest in yourself. (Which is the most important investment you can ever make, says Warren Buffett.)

Here are a few tips that will make a big difference:

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How am I Going to Get an Aerospace Job? 5 Tips

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Freelancers, Clouds, Crowds, Open-Source, and Makers

A trend over the last 20 years is that of freelancers, or contractors, as they are also known. Knowledge workers who hire themselves out to companies temporarily.

In the 1980’s it was comparatively rare. You only went freelance if you:

  1. Were extraordinarily bold, and had no fear of being unemployed;
  2. Had a particularly high-value set of skills that were hard to find, and that companies were prepared to pay a premium for;
  3. Were approaching the end of your career, and had a great network of powerful contacts who were prepared to compensate you handsomely for some consulting (often business-development-related).

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Freelancers, Clouds, Crowds, Open-Source, and Makers

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – What it feels like on the inside

The typical aerospace engineer went into the industry because . . . .

Designing aircraft was cool.

You’d get to stick your name on one of those birds up there, and tell your kids about it. You’d get to do detailed technical work, work with smart people, come up with new ways of doing stuff, make birds fly really fast, play with cool software that had pretty pictures, etc, etc. And, well, the pay would be enough to support you and a family, house, two cars, and an occasional holiday in the south of France.

And the best? You’d get to see the first flight.

(Not much gets aerospace types excited and emotional. Believe me, you get excited about first flight.)

Wow! Awesome, right?

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – What it feels like on the inside

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – The State of the Industry, continued

In the 15 years I’ve been in aerospace, everything has changed. And it’s still changing.

Airbus has FALs (Final Assembly Lines) and parts factories in China and the USA. It has significant design offices in Bangalore (India) and Wichita (USA). Boeing has a big design office in Russia.

Far more design work is outsourced to suppliers, often small firms, all over the work. Some is done for a fee, some on a risk-sharing basis (i.e. they are paid per aircraft sold).

Airbus (and Boeing, and the other major airframers) have moved towards the Integrator model.

High-value-added technical design and support work is outsourced to wherever, and the airframer manages it from a distance. (Boeing didn’t do this very well with the 787, hence have been talking about pulling more design work back in-house. However, economic and talent recruitment pressures will limit this.)

The driver for this is economic, not political.

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – The State of the Industry, continued

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – The State of the Industry

You are leading a blinkered life if you don’t think that we live in a time of great change.

Aerospace is no exception.

When I started at Airbus in 1998, the vast majority of design work happened in-house. Or more simply: The lion’s share of the work was done by the employees of the Airbus partners. (It wasn’t a single company in those days, rather a consortium of partner companies.)

The employees all worked on the partners’ premises in four countries (France, Germany, the UK and Spain), and roughly ten locations within those countries.

Airbus had suppliers as well. Mostly smaller companies, in those same countries.

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – The State of the Industry

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – What on earth is going on?

Your second most important technical skill is Awareness.

Of yourself. Of what’s going on around you. With your colleagues. In the department. In the company. The industry, the world, politics, new technology, etc.

Again, not so much of a skill as a habit.

What I do know is that as you stay aware of how you and the world around you is changing, you stay ideally positioned to seize opportunities and avoid problems.

Techies tend to prize themselves on being just that, technically-minded.

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – What on earth is going on?

Look out, aerospace, Amazon and The Crowd are coming your way

Amazon’s last quarterly report announced an enhancement to Amazon Web Services (AWS) called CloudHSM.

It will be “a new service enabling customers to increase data security and meet compliance requirements.”

How long before we can design an aircraft entirely on the basis of crowd-sourcing and Amazon Web Services?

How long before we can design an airliner that way?

I’m thinking . . . . . Not long.

Discuss.