Jainna Bhalla

01 February 2022
Project Management Degree Apprentice

Meet Jainna, a Project Management Degree Apprentice who began working at our Basildon site last year.

What made you choose an apprenticeship as a career route? 

One of the main reasons why I chose a degree apprenticeship as a career route, instead of university alone, is because I knew I wanted to begin my career and develop myself as a person at the same time. As an individual, I like to be challenged and proactive, and I knew this would be the case if I was a degree apprentice. 

I am extremely happy to be completing my apprenticeship, playing a role at Leonardo, and learning from field experts whilst applying the Project Management theory knowledge from my degree to my day-to-day work. 

What is your day-to-day role like, has it changed much due to the pandemic? 

Throughout my apprenticeship journey, I have moved around business departments so that I can understand the holistic role and contribution that each department has to Leonardo. This means the structure of my days change depending on my placement. For example, during my Planning placement I was attending meetings with international clients, whereas in my Quality Assurance (QA) placement I have been involved on the manufacturing floor. My day tends to change every day, and there are never two days that are the same. Sometimes I will have lots of meetings, or training, or even activities to complete for projects on a deadline.

What are the interesting projects you’ve worked on during your apprenticeship? 

So far, every project I have worked on has been interesting. They are all different and intriguing in their own way, and it’s great to see how we have such a positive impact in the industry. By being so involved with all the projects I have worked on, I am able to follow and understand the progression of each of them, which is beneficial for my future career and allows me to support my placements within each department as best as possible.

I am also working on the Tempest project, having been accepted onto the Tempest Cross Partner Mentoring Scheme, which will provide the technology, skills and expertise to develop a Next Generation Combat Air System.

What has been the best thing about your apprenticeship, has anything surprised you? 

A great thing about Leonardo is how welcoming and community-based the company is; everyone is keen to help and provide support where they can. I was initially surprised, because I didn’t expect such a big company to be like this, but as soon as I joined I have been welcomed by everyone, and I very much feel part of the team. Having this positive working environment has been one of the best things I could ask for as an apprentice because I know that if I have any questions or concerns, there are a plethora of people I can ask. 

Is there anyone that you would like to thank or that you’d say has been the biggest influence on your success?

My gratitude begins towards my parents and sisters who have by far been the biggest influence on my success. They always push me to do my best and encourage me to aim as high as possible, and without their continuous support I would certainly not have achieved as much as I have. 

At Leonardo, I would like to thank everyone I have worked with so far in Planning and QA, and the apprentice managers. Everyone I have worked alongside has been very welcoming, and they are so willing to share their knowledge and opportunities so that I can excel during my apprenticeship. I have learned so much over the five months that I have been here, and I am eager to see what else the future holds. 

What have been your biggest achievements at Leonardo so far?

The best thing so far has been the countless opportunities offered to me. I was successful in applying for the Tempest Cross Partner Mentoring Scheme, which will both give me exposure to, and allow me to get involved in, this once in a generation project, whilst networking with individuals all across the industry. This mentorship gives me the ability to work alongside my peers in the other Team Tempest founding partners (Rolls Royce, MBDA and BAE Systems) as they also progress through the Tempest project. I am excited to bring back what I have learned to support myself and others at Leonardo.

Despite only being here for less than six months, I have been able to manage my own projects. For example, I created a ‘Top Tip’ list for individuals interested in applying to apprenticeships with Leonardo. For this project, I contacted current and previous apprentices at Leonardo to share their journey and their advice for future applicants. 

As I am a STEM Ambassador, I have the opportunity to work with schools and students that are interested in joining the engineering industry. I have been a project manager for the CSES Fresh Air Fresh Thinking project. CSES is the Chelmsford Science and Engineering Society, which is a charity that aims to engage people in STEM activities to encourage their interests, whilst developing their STEM knowledge and experience. This project allows Leonardo apprentices to support eager primary and secondary school students using a Raspberry Pi to study the effects of pollution in everyday life.

Would you recommend an apprenticeship to people looking to make a first step in their career? 

I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship. By being able to work in industry whilst getting a degree, you are able to apply what you have learned directly to your job. You will gain invaluable work experience, whilst also being exposed to countless opportunities to allow you to excel and make the most out of your apprenticeship before you become a full-time employee at Leonardo. Personally, I am really enjoying my time as a project management degree apprentice, and it was definitely one of the best decisions I have made.

At Leonardo, there is a large array of benefits that employees can make the most out of. This varies from STEM Ambassador opportunities, to company benefits that every employee is entitled to, and charity events that everyone gets involved in.