Lewis Liston

Project Leader

Meet Lewis, a Project Leader at our Edinburgh site who completed his Manufacturing Technical Apprenticeship in August 2020.

Edinburgh  10 March 2022

What did you study at school?

I studied Higher Design and Manufacture, Higher Maths, National 5 English, National 5 Art and Design, National 5 Physics and National 5 Chemistry.

Design and Manufacture was my favourite subject that I studied. 

What made you choose an apprenticeship as a career route?

I’ve always been a more practical/hands-on learner, so the idea of an apprenticeship appealed to me. I think the experience you get from going straight into the workplace is very beneficial. I did a work experience week at Leonardo the year before I started my apprenticeship, which gave me a real insight into the working environment and the company’s products; I thoroughly enjoyed it, which was what really drove me to apply for the apprenticeship later that year. 

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

My day-to-day role includes everything involved in managing the production project that I currently work on. Each day can be quite different to the next. The main task is managing all variations and changes to the contract to ensure the project stays within budget and on schedule. Alongside this, I have to maintain a good relationship with the customer and manage their expectations, as well as report and communicate progress to them. I receive input from a number of different departments to ensure accurate forecasting and planning of sales, cash, milestones and costs. I also have to manage risk by ensuring the project is confident in its contingency budget and the threats/opportunities that may occur. 

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

During my time in the company, I have worked on a number of interesting projects like the Laser system for the F-35 fighter jet. I have been part of the Leonardo team providing the beam director for the Dragonfire Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) Capability Demonstrator Programme and more recently I have worked on the Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) product. As well as working on exciting products, I’ve also supported work experience programs, careers fairs and school visits to encourage and support the next generation of apprentices. 

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

The apprenticeship allowed me to experience various different departments for three months at a time, which was a great help for someone who wasn’t sure what area of engineering or manufacturing they wanted to go into. I also found that doing college alongside the on-the-job learning was hugely beneficial as it allowed me to put what I was learning in college into practice as the course went on. 

I think I was surprised by how strong the sense of community was amongst the apprentices, and I have built up some great relationships from it. 

What have been your biggest achievements at Leonardo so far? 

My biggest achievements throughout the apprenticeship were being named Edinburgh Apprentice of the Year at the Edinburgh Apprenticeship Awards, and winning The Institute of Physics’ Apprentice Award.

I was absolutely delighted to have been recognised for all my work throughout the apprenticeship. Another personal achievement of mine was carrying out a successful speech in front of 200 high-profile guests at an RAF event; public speaking has never been my strong point, so to have been able to do that was a big achievement for me. 

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

I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship! I think the combination of on-the-job and college or university learning gives you the best of both worlds, and the experience and understanding gained from being in the workplace is invaluable - not to mention earning a wage and having your education covered by the company. It was a no-brainer for me when I was choosing my career. 

Apprenticeships at Leonardo

Apprenticeships at Leonardo

Our highly-regarded apprenticeship programmes – covering hardware and software engineering, business and cyber security – offer intensive training programme lasting 2-4 years, which results in apprentices graduating with a substantial depth of skills in their specialist area.