Lilly Caskey

03 April 2024
Project Assurance Engineer

Meet Lilly, a Project Assurance Engineer at our Basildon site.

What is your role at Leonardo?

I am currently a Project Assurance Engineer, having completed my Level 3 apprenticeship in Engineering Technical Support. I work on a number of high profile projects across the company, and have played a role in creating the Next Generation Quality Network.

Whilst on my apprenticeship, I gained qualifications in Performing Engineering Operations, Engineering Technical Support, Electrical & Electronic Engineering and more.

Why was an apprenticeship the right path for you?

I studied at The FitzWimarc School in Rayleigh, Essex, completing the GCSEs in Triple Science, Maths, English Literature & Language, and Information Communication Technology (ICT). During my time there, I struggled with the pressure and stress of exams. Although my grades were much higher than predicted, I had extremely bad anxiety the whole time. In the more practical subjects, like engineering. I would go into the lessons excited to learn, constantly wanting to push myself, feeling no pressure or stress because I was doing something I loved. 

An apprenticeship meant I could continue doing something I love, while getting hands-on experience and gaining the required qualifications. It also provided me with an insight into the engineering industry and what would be required from me once I was fully qualified. This has allowed me to build my confidence and work on my soft skills (such as…_), which will support me through my whole career.

Tell us what you do in a typical day

Since joining the Quality Assurance department, every day is different, although it has a similar structure. I start my day off with a team meeting on the manufacturing floor; doing this allows me to get an understanding of what production work will be happening that day which means I can try to predict what issues might occur from data in our SAP system. 

I will then have meetings, either virtual or in person, with customers/suppliers/project teams to help answer and qualify questions or start an investigation into a large issue. These investigations can be conducted in many different methods, such as 8D style investigations or Failure Review boards, to look for trends or patterns. 

What did you do during your apprenticeship?

During the 4 years of my apprenticeship, I had the opportunity to work in a number of different functions. This allowed me to get an understanding and appreciation for the struggles and work each function has in order to result in a successful project. Without going around the different functions, I would never have ended up in the Quality Assurance department. If you would have asked 15 year old me what 'Quality' meant, she would have had no idea!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

There are many parts of my job that I enjoy but if I had to pick one, it would be how different every day is. This means I’m constantly working on new skills and developing my knowledge and learning.

Having each day be slightly different, whilst structured by following processes, keeps me thinking of new ideas to improve the project's I work on and drive down the cost of non-quality. As part of the Quality Assurance department, I have to work with all of the different functions within Leonardo. This means I have to keep on top of the changes going on learning how to prioritise my work.

What have been your biggest achievements at Leonardo so far?

Since I have been in the Quality department, I have worked on a number of different projects, from 20-year-old repair contracts to brand new start-up projects. However, the most exciting thing I have worked and my biggest achievement has been on a set of displays that was been sent back for investigation.

The 10 displays that got sent back had contamination on them and the customer wanted to know what it was in case all the units needed replacing. This allowed me to work with external labs to get all of the samples analysed and did a full 8D investigation. This resulted in a fully complete investigation that saved Leonardo £1.2m.

Another big achievement is the awards for which I have been shortlisted. In my final year of the apprenticeship, I won the Leonardo UK Apprentice of the Year for the Final Year category. This meant so much to me as I had spent the whole 4 years trying to make a different to the company and the departments I had worked in. I was shortlisted for the CQI International Quality Awards in the Emerging Talent category in 2023, and have been named a finalist again at this year’s awards!

What related activities are you involved with outside your specific job role?

I am heavily involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) initiatives to get more young people thinking about quality as a fun and exciting career path. During my apprenticeship, I attended several STEM events, including college careers fairs and talks in schools, which showcase the options for them when they leave school. I’m also involved in running our Rampaging Chariots competition that we run at Basildon (and the other sites).

What are your career aspirations?

Since leaving the apprenticeship scheme, I have focused on getting a better understanding of the Quality function and the projects I work on. However, I would like to continue my education by going on to complete a degree in project management or business management. At the same time, I am also taking steps to become a Chartered Quality Engineer, although this is a long-term goal I am working towards.

I also want to keep my involvement in STEM activities in and outside work because as I am just at the start of my career, I think students can relate to me more, and equally, I have a good understanding of what they are going through. Through the different STEM events, I can also help to encourage younger people to look at a career in Quality and show them the different doors quality can open for them.

Why should someone consider an apprenticeship at Leonardo?

The first reason is how many different opportunities to learn there are. You will complete lots of different courses just being on the apprenticeship scheme, on top of that there are many opportunities to complete new courses on the Coursera platform. 

However, no matter what course you are doing or what department you are in, everyone is there to support you at each step. This is one of the many positives about Leonardo as you are surrounded by the biggest support network to help you grow in your career and reach your goals.

The second reason is the amount of experience you can gain in a number of different areas. One example was when I had the opportunity to visit the Houses of Parliament to talk with local MP's about the importance of apprenticeships in the defence sector and the quality function in particular. Without being part of this scheme, I would never have had this opportunity and would not have been pushed outside my comfort zone. 

When joining Leonardo, you do not need to have a set plan for where you will end up. By moving around the different placements, you get to learn what you like and what you do not like, enabling you to make an informed decision about your final placement. 

Finally, as a female in engineering, Leonardo is amazing when it comes to being inclusive for everyone. The company has a big push on getting women into engineering, promoting events like Women in Engineering Day, and always being there to help if you were to have any issues.

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.