What GU Alumni Think

What GU Alumni Think

We asked our Engineering Alumni the following questions about PDP.  All the responses are here, not just the edited highlights!  You can see for yourself that those who responded on the whole think that PDP is worthwhile and the sooner you start the better!



What is your understanding of personal development planning, and how has it played a part in your career development, if at all?  Please try to include specific examples and anecdotes of how you undertake these initiatives, and the ways in which they have been of benefit to you.


Is personal development planning something that you undertake on your own accord or something that is required of you in your profession? When and why did you start using it?


What advice would you offer to students beginning their Engineering studies with regards to self management and personal development planning?

Responses, September 07

PDE M Eng 2001
1.    Laura Jane Fleming

Associate Director, Bank of Scotland Corporate

Associate Director,
Business Intelligence,
Intermediary Commercial Finance,
Bank of Scotland Corporate

I manage a team who report on Business iNtelligence within ICF a unit of BOS Corporate.  BI is extracting pertinent information and turning into knowledge upon which we can make better business decisions: basically- translating MI and P&L into meaningful strategy.  On top of this I complie all forward look planning & P&L reporting.

HBOS has a university for its employees called HBOS-U - this provides learning for my level and above. All L&D and PDPs are managed online, in-line with set objectives. At the beginning of the year I set my teams objectives in-line with my own goals and then a development plan in-line with fulfilling these objectives by helping with their knowledge 'gaps'.  These could be through taught courses, online learning or on the job coaching.  The online PDP containing objectives and My Learning Plan (MLP) is printed-off and used in each monthly 1:1 review.  This enables me to know how my team are developing and help them be better day to day as well as allowing my manager to see how I am developing myself and my team. HBOS align development around a leadership commitment of Lead (personal skills) Shape (how to shape the business) Build (building core foundations and pieces for the future) and Deliver (actual timely delivery within plan). All courses and coaching are aligned to one factor of the Leadership commitment and this builds the whole PDP system.

Both - as a Chartered accountant I need to comply with personal development logged through my PDP maintained online which shows yearly I comply with the accountancy practical requirements.  I own this entirely though I do discuss future requirements with my manager.  For my team I work with them to identify development point monthly and ask them to think of applicable courses or coaching they think would be useful.  Occasionally I book them onto something I think they need and add to their MPL.
Make sure you identify your own development points as well as asking for a 360-degree view - from tutors, fellow students etc.  Accept these as constructive criticism and ask for advice and help on developing - everyone has development points, it's how you accept and tackle them that makes you stand out.  It usually helps as well to categorise these points - some will be practical some more 'touchy feely', but it’s important to work hard to develop every angle.  Always remember your perception of how you act, behave and perform might not be the view of your stakeholders.

BSc Electronic Engineering 1990

2.    Richard Sproul

ASIC Specialist, Nokia UK

I am Manager of Specialist ASIC integration team for 3G mobile phone chip sets for Nokia.  Lead teams in UK and Finland, France and India.

PDP is part of the Nokia working practice.  Each year we have a Development review and highlight areas that need improvement for personal skills as well as professional.  The review takes place with the manager to plan for training either as part of a learning package (onsite or offsite) on the job training, and general areas that need coaching.

Bit of both, I am part of IEE so PDP is part of my own objectives but also the company encourage the individual engineer to look at improving all areas. I started as part of my chartered IEE recognition process after leaving University in 1990.

Plan to develop as much of you personal skills as is possible.  My team is required to make presentations to large groups of professionals at management and technical levels.  Technical training should always be planned, for as my career has changed a lot over the last 17 years and even more in the last 5.  Technologies moves fast and unless you get ready you get left behind.  Engineering is becoming much more global and there are challenges working with cultural differences as well as the time differences.  Try to learn how other areas connected to your business work, finance, manufacturing, test, project management.

Electronic Systems and Microcomputer Engineering 1992

3.    David Hamilton

Police Sergeant

Police Sergeant, running a shift of 12 officers in general response policing

At a recent reunion I was depressed to learn that few of my classmates (about 8 out of 60) had remained in [or] gone into engineering.  Looking back on it I am really disappointed with the way the faculty failed us.  There was no imagination and nobody developed our hopes and aspirations.  At no point did I engineer!

PDP is well catered for in the Police

Always take opportunities even if they don't necessarily seem to be in the way you want to go.

Aeronautical Engineering 2006
4.    Craig Sankey
Graduate Engineer, Ministry of Defence

Graduate Engineer; I am on a 2 year graduate scheme undertaking 3 month placements before I re-grade into a permanent post.  My job is project management, primarily.

Personal development planning is a major part of my development in the MoD.  In order to re-grade once I have completed the grad scheme I need to show evidence of my development in each area of competence that the MoD assesses.  This development planning also coincides with the evidence I need to show to become a chartered engineer with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

At the start of each placement I sit down with my line manager and we plan objectives for the placement and how I will achieve these objectives.  Throughout the placement I keep a logbook of what I have done with examples of my work.  At the end of my placement my line manager assesses me against the MoD's competences and then I have a meeting with my mentor to discuss the outcomes of this report and what development needs I still have.

It is required of me in my profession; however I am not required to work toward gaining chartership, but have undertaken this on my own.  I have done this to show initiative and also to gain a recognised qualification.

Keeping a logbook is a very useful tool.  When at university I used to write my logbooks at the end and  pretty much make it up.  Now that I keep a 'proper' logbook I have realised how useful it is and have referred back to it many times.  In my case my logbook will be useful for interviews, showing that I am ready for re-grade and for  my chartership interview.

BSc Engineering; 1971
5.    Anonymous
Proposals Director, Costain Limited

Proposals Director with responsibility for managing the preparation of tenders and proposals for all major civil engineering projects undertaken by Costain

PDP is a basic requirement for professional membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers.  Within the company we have an annual appraisal to review performance and the personal skills necessary to enable the business to deliver its ongoing strategies in our target market sectors.  I use PDP as a structured means to review my skill sets to ensure that I can continue to progress my career as the company grows. It lets you manage your career and not be swept along with no clear goals in mind.

Required by ICE. It has formed some part of my progression since I graduated.

If you have a clear idea of how you want your career to develop then do some skills mapping to determine what skills you need to possess at each stage.  Have an honest appraisal of your current capability and identify the gaps.  It helps in the early days to use programmes such as ICE offer to "get in to the swing".  PDP should not be seen as an onerous task as in reality it only requires an hour or so each month.  If you don't know where your going what [are the] chances you will arrive?

European Master of Engineering, 1991
6.    Anonymous
SDM, Siemens Business Services

Service Delivery Manager: ensuring that outsourced IT services are delivered according to agreement


Enjoy student life...


 BSc Electrical & Electronic Engineering 1978, MSc Engineering Management 1985
7.    Alan W Sharp
Senior Project Manager / Engineering Manager, BAE SYSTEMS, Surface Fleet Solutions

Aircraft Carrier Alliance - Stage 2/3 Engineering Manager  Seconded to the Aircraft Carrier Alliance in Bristol, a multi-company alliance to provide the new aircraft carriers to the UK MOD, my role is to integrate the partners (4-off) who are to deliver the spatial integration and manufacturing data packs for the ships.  This is basically about converting the 2d system diagrams into the 3D physical world.  I also act as liaison to the French MOPA2 carrier programme in respect of cooperation in this area of engineering.

I've been lucky in that all of the organisations that I've worked with have believed strongly in making this part of their culture.  Working toward membership of the IEE (now IET), Chartered Engineer and then Fellow has also provided focus.

Both:  I started using it from the day that I left university.  As well as being part of the company ethos, it was also essential to remain abreast of technology and in later life management skills.

Form strong links with your tutor and draw from their experience.  Make your plans and write them down.  Review periodically and use the tutor as "conscience".  Don't be afraid to change course.  Make the plan to help you get where you want to be, stretching but no too overstretched, and not just to say that you have a plan.  You must want to do it.  Having a clear goal such as C. Eng helps because you know that you have to deliver and it’s not just a game.  When you start work get a mentor, it really can help on making the transition then growing you.

BEng Aeronautical Engineering 1990
8.    David Stewart
Director, own limited company, engineering consultancy - DMS Engineering Solutions Limited

Consultant Engineer to the nuclear industry – I’m a CEng M I MechE working on the design and safety aspects of future nuclear facilities at Devonport Royal Dockyard.

In my view personal development planning is fundamental to life!  It shouldn't just be limited to thinking there is a conference or course you need to do to maintain your skills.  It should extend to identifying areas in which you would like to work and the intermediate goals you need to achieve in order to get there. Whether that is working in new areas or self directed or experiential learning or shadowing /coached roles or any of the other forms of development. The key thing is to look ahead a few years ALL the time.  You mustn't make the mistake of thinking that the PDP is set in stone - you may be in the middle of something when an amazing opportunity presents itself!  I am currently working towards Chartered status with the I Struct. E and as part of this have signed myself up for a distance learning MSc in Advanced Structural Engineering.  Previously I've taken out career development loan to do a diploma in law and one of my previous employers paid for a block release course in radioactive decommissioning.  The key thing is that these activities were integrated into my working life and stepping-stones to more demanding roles.

I undertake personal development on my own accord and have always done so, probably since graduation.  Whether that's been seeking out challenging roles, adding to my responsibilities or identifying interesting courses my main aim has been to keep my work interesting.  This is something you CANNOT leave to the vagaries of your line management - you need to see where you want to be, identify the business benefits for you getting there, communicate them and get backing to carry out the plan.  If YOU don't take an interest in your own PDP then why on earth should anyone else?

Good time management helps a lot; play to your strengths and do stuff you enjoy, but also identify and develop your weaknesses.  All employers like "well rounded" characters! Also maintain control of your plan- review it regularly and remember that "if you don't ask then you don't get"

BSc Honours Mechanical Engineering 1966
9.    Dr Ian A Brown
Managing Director - Retired, Stryker, Ireland

Managing Director - responsible for all operational aspects of 400 employee manufacturing organisation making joint replacement products e.g. hips and knees



Set five year career targets and plan job experience and training to achieve these plus 2 - 3 year critical reviews of the 5 year plan

1997 B.Eng Aeronautical Engineering
10.    Murray Greer

Aircraft and gas turbine mechanical design engineer.

Sub contract, self-employed mechanical designer.  I work on mainly short-term (1-2 year) contracts.

Structured personal development has played absolutely no part in my career except in the first year.  I organise all my own training, as required.

It is part of my working life, but it is completely informal.  I look to get experience in fields considered useful to engineering companies.

From cynical personal experience, beware of what the big companies tell you.  Work your way into a field considered valuable and gain experience that can be marketed to various companies.  If you are willing to travel then go sub-contracting; see the world and benefit from a far higher wage.


B.Eng Mechanical Engineering 1991
11.    Paul Taylor
Manager of Proposals, Doosan Babcock Energy

Manager of Proposals, Operations Europe; Member of the Europe Operations Management team.
 I am responsible for a multi-disciplined team of engineers who compile & collate Engineering Based proposals for EPC (Engineer/Procure/Construct) Projects in the Power, Petrochemical and Pharmaceutical Industries.  Functionally responsible for the “Proposal” process, Europe wide.

Personal Development Planning is setting yourself an "Ultimate Goal" for your career and defining the path and milestones that you have to pass in order that you have the opportunity to achieve this goal.  The milestones can be academic, professional or personal and all must be measurable.  I decided on a career path before starting at university with a view to achieving a senior management position within an engineering company.  I quickly realised that both experience and academia are necessary to achieve this goal.  In life you never stop learning and PDP milestones can change as experience develops, however seldom does the ultimate career goal change.  Since University my career has been somewhat varied, having worked on sites as Engineer, Supervisor, QA Engineer, Planner and Manager and off-site as Proposals Engineer, Project Manager and Deputy to the Area Manager.  However many of the milestones set have remained unchanged - Attaining Chartered status, further education in achieving an MSc in Project Management, achieving the right exposure to the right people is important, actively becoming involved in company initiatives and Business Plans have enhanced my learning as well as my profile with senior company management. I am still some way from achieving my target, however looking back, progress to my current position has been steady and measurable.

Mapping my own Personal Development is something that I set out on personally before even starting at University.  Only in recent years (as an IMechE Mentor) has the profile of PDP been raise to the position that it is now an important part of any young (and not-so-young) Engineers development.

Set yourself achievable milestones in achievable time-scales and monitor these on a quarterly basis to measure your rate of achievement; modify the milestones and/or time-scales if necessary.  Your rate of achievement is proportional to the effort that you put into achieving it.

Aeronautical Engineering, 1991
12.    John Chen
Professional Engineer, Airbus UK Ltd

Manufacturing Engineering
New Product Introduction. Industrial preparedness of new aircraft.
 Influencing design.

[pdp examples]
Knows what to achieve in 5 years time and the prepare a roadmap to achieve it. Join a company that support Chartered Engineer route.  Doing an MBA after say 2 years.  "Enjoy what you study and make a career and living out of it".

[pdp start]
A bit of both.  I was trained to my job.  It was my personal drive to become a Chartered Engineer.

[pdp advice]
First and foremost, make sure you enjoy there course you are doing.  Then after graduation, join a big corporation / world-class company that is willing to support you to become a Chartered Engineer.  Also plan for your postgraduate management course.

Mechanical engineering, graduating in 1956
13.    William Watt

I was vice president of engineering in a consumer products company.  Main responsibilities were for automation.

[pdp examples]
Even as an undergraduate I went to Philosophy classes at Glasgow. I was not enrolled in these classes and the practice might have been frowned on.  Continued my education with a degree in Management from MIT.  After that, I continued with informal studies in philosophy and literature.  The content of these studies has little to do directly with my engineering practice, but indirectly, they proved to be invaluable.
I found this to be of great value in developing a keen critical sense for detecting flaws in my own thinking about the feasibility of projects for which I had responsibility.  This served well when in management.  I had to detect the flaws in other peoples engineering proposals.  The other difficult situation where these non-technical studies have helped is in making decisions.

I started out on my own and have been entirely on my own exploring philosophy. I have quite frequently studied classes on management issues.

When I was in Glasgow, it seemed to me that most of my fellow students had so much difficulty with their technical studies they would not have time for another subject in the non-technical area.  I found that to just sit in on these classes, with no responsibility for reading and doing papers, was very valuable.

B.Eng (Hons) Avionics 1995
14.    Eilidh Goodman (nee Campbell)
Senior Aerodynamicist, BAE SYSTEMS

Senior Aerodynamicist responsible for technical modelling, analysis and qualification of a variety of aircraft

Personal Development Planning is an integral part of our annual Personal
Performance Review system within my company.  It has been important to my career development and personal development.  Competencies and behaviours are discussed and defined with your line manager and aim to meet the needs of the individual, as well as the team objectives.  We use a system called 'Engineering Developing You', which provides a framework around which the engineer can identify those areas require development such as technical skills, management skills and personal skills.

It is actively encouraged within my company but it remains up to the individual the degree to which it is used.  

I would advise students to seek a good balance between technical skills and personal/management skills. Once you enter an industrial environment there are lots of influences, lots of pressures, tight budgets and departmental politics.  Career progression isn't always achieved through technical experience, but the importance of sound technical knowledge should not be undervalued.  

BEng Aerospace Engineering 2003
15.    Paul Mackle
Project Engineer for Scottish Power

Standardising and creating a new Works Management System for all of Scottish Power’s stations

I would not say there was any PDP for my self.  I would strongly advise any one in an engineering discipline to gain experience voluntarily or paid while at University.

I had no PDP except customer service experience in part-time jobs while at university

I would strongly advise any one in an engineering discipline to gain experience, voluntarily or paid, while at University.

Also I would advise students to plan out there study program in order to get the best results and have time left to enjoy the perks of a student life.  Time management is essential...trust me, I never done this and really regret it

 Electronic Systems with Microcomputer Engineering - 1994
16.    Anonymous

Senior Software Engineer: Specify, design, write and test software for GIS.

From my experience, PDP is a discussion with my superiors about where I would like to be career-wise in the coming year(s).  This generally comes to nothing due to commercial pressures. In the absence of anything official, PDP for me generally consists of keeping up to date with the area I'm working in and with software development in general.  As I have no desire to work in management, there would appear to be no career path beyond honing my skills and learning new ones.

This is something I do on my own accord, as it doesn't seem to be required.  I've been doing it for most of my working life.

Develop the ability to improve your current skills and acquire new
ones relevant to your job without requiring input from others.  Be self starting: a lot of companies are loath to put people through formal training. My experience has also shown that on the job training will teach you more. Also, for this to be most successful, you really need to enjoy what you're doing.







1995 Mechanical Engineering
18.    Anonymous

VP of Harley-Davidson Products, Milsco Manufacturing Company

I am responsible for a $70 million dollar business producing seats, backrests, saddlebags and tourpaks for Harley-Davidson bikes.  I have responsibility for the engineering, manufacturing (2 plants), inventory control, purchasing, quality, human resource and accounting functions for this business.

When I graduated, I was introduced to PDP at Daewoo Motor Company and at Henley Management College.  I found the framework helpful to prompt career development considerations for me.  It was very clear to me from the start that I was 100% responsible for my own career development and I used a PDP to help identify where I wanted to go and how to get there.

I have seen many others wait for someone else to show them what to do - they are still waiting for a career opportunity and will continue to wait forever unless they take control

As above, I did so on my own accord.  I set a PDP in or around 1997- that is to say I documented my career aspirations and planned development required to achieve them. I have not changed or referenced that plan since - more I set the motion in place and drove the plan into reality (while adapting to the environmental conditions that I was presented with)

Set a over-riding goal that is the principal mission that you are going on (i.e. I want to be an inventor, I want to develop affordable renewable energy for emerging countries...).  The mission should not be, I want to be a millionaire or I want to run my own company - those are results of the first.

Once you have a guiding principal, you can then start defining plans to get there.  Share your ideas with your friends, receive their advice, implement your plans, and measure your progress.  If you fail / you succeed in any little step, celebrate that step and vow to move on.  Determine the next plan, implement and celebrate.

B.Eng (Mech) & 2000
19.    Lawrence Ng Kiam Yam
Lecturer, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Mechanical Division, Singapore

Job title: Lecturer teach and supervising students to be future mechanical/industrial engineers.

PDP enables a person to think/rethink his future in terms of continual learning.  Certainly, PDP has one or the other helped me to take up initiatives to improve my knowledge.

Yes I did it on my own initiative.  I started I think in 1994.

Never too late to plan ahead.  One fails because one fails to plan.

BEng(Hons)EEE / 2003
20.   Anonymous
R&D Engineer

R&D Engineer working in the area of carbon nanotubes nanotechnology

Personal development planning (PDP) is crucial especially working in a fast-paced industry, in my profession, self-learning from research journals, understanding the concepts & procedures and actualized it is carried in daily operational life.  To me, true skills are self-learned and very little owing to imparted learning.  In short, PDP has allowed me to work with a critical mindset and following a set of patterns to achieve & attain the specific goal.

PDP has helped me in both my profession and my personal life.  I started using it three years ago.

Plan out your career path, it may not be specific job but a general indication where & who you like to become.  Then, work through how to bring these goals to realization through a variety yet feasible solutions.  Seek assistance from seniors, lecturers & most importantly, adopt a good habit of reading textbooks and apply them!

PhD, 2001
21.    Tongguang WANG
Deputy Dean, College of Aerospace Engineering, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China

Professor (Aerodynamics)
The Chief-Scientist, the National Basic Research Program of China
 (973 Program)

The most important personal development planning I understand is to determine the goal you want to reach in the future. When I went to the University of Glasgow to do a PhD, I understood that my supervisor, Prof. Frank Coton, could let me study wind turbine aerodynamics.  This was very important for wind energy exploitation and I thought that I would then make a contribution to China's wind energy development.
This is true. I learnt a lot at Glasgow about wind turbine aerodynamics and came back to China after my graduation. Now in charge of a project "Fundamental study of large-size wind turbine aerodynamics" with a funding of 40 million Chinese Yuan (roughly more than 5 million USD) funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, I am the Chief-Scientist of the National 973 Program, the most prestigious national-level research program in China.

BEng (HONS) civil, 2000
22.    Anonymous

Design Engineering Consultant - Senior Engineer - Jacobs Engineering

Civil & Structural Senior Engineer

Front-End Engineering works
Detail Engineering Design Works

We have to be upgraded constantly or risk falling behind others.

The initiative for "fulfilling" personal development can either come from The Employer's personal development and training schemes, statutory requirements and / or professional bodies

It is mandatory in my profession.  I started personal development planning as soon as I landed in my first job.  Constant changes in the design codes, statutory requirements as well as technology advancement in software require us to be on our toes all the time.  

Initially must be able to developed and follow personal development work plan... say for simple task.  Example…to complete advance IT training courses by 6 months time, to take part in toastmaster activities by end of year 2008 etc

BEng in Civil Engineering
24.    Panagiotis Mavrokefalidis
Project Manager in INOX HELLAS

Managing the engineering part of the company, the projects, take decisions whether a project is valuable to undertake, managing the BoQ process, the biding, the offers, contact with the client, and if we address the project, work throughout the drawings, the schedule of works, the quality and the construction of the project.

Understand how the engineering world works, put myself into the procedures of the engineering world, learn throughout my work, understand that every single project is a totally different project and therefore try to gain the most from each project.  Improve my skills in every project and any mistakes done in previous projects, work as feedback in order to improve my skills.

It is a procedure that the university indirectly passed it to me, and during my first job in Hochtief for the New International Athens Airport my manager let me take responsibilities and let me make mistakes in order to understand and learn

To use their knowledge efficiently, and do not afraid to make mistakes.  Our profession is a difficult one but it is a very nice profession that could offer the best outcome if we understand it.  Work and try to listen to older professionals and let them pass you their knowledge.


BSc(Eng)(Birmingham) PhD(Bioengrng)(Strathclyde)
25.    Dr BH Lim
Specialist in General Surgery/ Surgical Oncologist


Surgeon, Hon. Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Hong Kong

I left engineering disciplines and now practises in another entirely different profession.


Mechanical Engineering with Aeronautics
26.    Andrew Hamilton
Sub-sea Engineer, Xodus Group


Sub-sea engineer, working basically as a mechanical engineer in the oil and gas industry, involved in a wide range of projects including pipeline design and decommissioning work.

The company offers ongoing professional development, including external courses, on-job training, mentoring and the appraisal scheme.

In the long term, having a clear and focused structure to your career will be of great benefit to yourself.  It will both help you financially with promotions etc, but will also provide you with a great sense of satisfaction when a goal long aimed at is reached.


BSc, Civil Engineering, 1973
27.    Alistair Mills
Project Manager, CERN, Geneva, Switzerland


Project Manager, working on a project to build a European Computing Grid (EGEE).  There are 90 partners including the University of Glasgow.

The most important thing you can learn as a young person is how to learn for yourself.  Little of what you learn at university is relevant to jobs later in life.  I do not know how this skill can be taught.  Most people get better as they get older.

I have always sought out opportunities to learn new things, but I have not found training courses in business very useful.  I have often found buying books and reading them more effective than a short training course.

Learn to learn by reading.  Learn to write by writing.  The standard of written English in UK is very poor.  Most technical training does not deal with this.  It is an essential skill, if you are going to communicate your ideas accurately to people.


BEng Electronic Systems & Microcomputer Engineering (1992)
28.  Anonymous 
Product Marketing Manager, Oxford Semiconductor


Product Marketing Manager responsible for end-to-end lifecycle management for Oxford's direct attached storage controllers.

In my experience personal development planning generally relates to the 'soft' skills such as communication, influencing, etc. rather than skills orientated training such as project management or CAD tools courses.

Typically a PDP would start with the identification of an area of weakness or the learning of a new skill to assist with a change in role or responsibilities.  Actual training could be either a formal training course or via a in-house mentor.  To date I have had undertaken limited formal personal development training, preferring on the job training.

In my industry (semiconductors) personal development planning is generally initiated by the individual.

Have a clear objective on where you want to be in your career in 5 years time.  
Identify the core skills that you must obtain to successfully reach your goal.  Plan how you will obtain these skills - on the job or formal training.


BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering 1993
29.    Anonymous
Senior Engineer, Transport Scotland, Trunk Road Network Management, Bridges section.

Senior Engineer: Assistant to Chief Bridge Engineer in technical policy for trunk road structures.  Includes asset management, overseeing the development of a new structures database, shaping our practices to conform to Code of Practice for Management of Highway Structures, having specialist responsibility for concrete durability and specifications, appraising Interim advice (IANs) from the Highways Agency and preparing for issue in Scotland.

PDP happens all through your career.  Sometimes it is structured by attending courses when a need is identified, and other times it's ad hoc, when you learn on the job with a new task.  When I started out I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to take so I worked on lots of schemes using different disciplines.  After a while I decided I was interested in bridges and the opportunity arose for me to undertake a PhD in bridge monitoring.  This opened up a huge learning exercise to appraise what assumptions are inherent in bridge design, how they behave in reality, what devices are available on the market to measure this behaviour and their short comings.  This is not something I had planned to do when I graduated with my first degree, it just evolved that way and I took advantage of the opportunity.  My current job still uses these skills and I keep up to date through articles, journals etc.  Although this is specialist work I also need to keep up to date with general best practice for bridges.  Even the most boring seminars I've attended (and I've been to a few) have yielded one or two little snippets of information that have been useful later on.  You never know when learning will be useful and it's worth having a broad perspective of the industry even though you're working in a specific field.

PDP is something that I do myself, is very much supported by my employer
and it is a requirement of the Institution of Civil Engineers to undertake
a minimum of Continual Professional Development each year.  I've
used PDP right from the start of my career, sometimes I do a lot of
things and sometimes there are long periods when I don't look at it
or do anything at all.  I use it because it's useful to help identify
what things you've done, what direction you want to move in and what
 tools you need to obtain to do that.  

Don't be afraid to pursue the things you are interested in.  A lot of disciplines are inter-related and there will always be something useful to find out about.  It may not have been what you set out to find but it will be useful and may open doors to other things.  A lot of this is up to you.  It's not set in stone so make it fit your needs, not necessarily your employers.
Doctoral Training Award funded by the EPSRC - March 2008

30.    Ewan Alexander Towie
Post-Graduate-PhD Student, Device Modelling Group, E&EE Dept., University of Glasgow

I am a PhD student and I study hard to obtain a Doctorate in engineering.

I understand that personal development planning is a process that is undertaken by the individual, with the focus of improving their career by proper use of achievable goals, golden milestones and extended pathways.

PDP is something that is fundamental to my way of life, and which that cannot be ignored.  I always expect to obtain this skill through my own undertakings and is
 elementary to obtaining a PhD.

I would advise them to think long and hard about what they want from their course of choice, and then to properly follow the course guidelines for study.  During a degree course, achieving the preset guidelines for studying can often be very difficult, depending on a student’s circumstances, and so self-management and PDP must be utilised to pass the course properly.

M.Eng Aerospace, 2004
31.    Xi Tao Chui
Pilot, Singapore Airlines

I fly planes.

Flying involves application of knowledge; it's mostly a numbers game.  We have to study revisions of operations manuals constantly to keep ourselves updated on procedures & policies.  Nobody tells us we have to study, but if aircraft incidents happen the authorities will hang pilots on the wall when they find out pilots are deficient in those areas.

PDP is a professional requirement.  Since I started line flying, and passengers' lives & comfort are in our hands.

It's the time to learn & make mistakes without being subjected to investigations or punishments or future pain.

Aeronautical Engineering MEng. 2004
32.    Mark Houston
Graduate Stress Engineer: BASE, Dundonald, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Graduate Stress Engineer.
I am on a 2-year graduate training program within the company.  I have to complete one training module per month.  I am also assigned to various projects in the company.  We perform structural analysis of aircraft components.  We work in small teams, which involved static, fatigue and damage tolerance analysis. We use Nastran and Patran on a daily basis.

PDP is to develop young engineers who can contribute to their own and their company's success in terms of technical and business competence, innovation and interpersonal skills.  I keep a log book/file of the training modules I have completed and the work I have carried out.  My mentor in the company then signs these off.  This allows me to track the skills I have learnt and acts as a good reference source when working on projects.

It is required to undertake the 2-year graduate training scheme in my company.  My company are currently looking into the MPDS offered by I Mech E, which I would be keen to take part in.  I started using the PDP scheme when I joined, as it was a requirement of my role.

Keep you log book up to date!  Which is something I find difficult to do.   Make sure you keep a record of everything you do.

BEng Civil Engineering 2007
33.    Anonymous
South Lanarkshire Council

Site foreman. General setting out and workforce organisation.  Quantity surveying.

Understanding how to progress from being unqualified to being properly qualified for a certain job.  Getting a degree is the obvious first step.

It is required of me in my profession, but it is organised by the individual.

Become a member of appropriate recognised professional bodies.

Electronics with Music
34.    Oswald Quek
Consultant, Detica

No specific role, but as a consultant I get involved in as many roles as possible, for example development (in Java languages), system testing, writing documentation (e.g. users’ manual), deploying of applications.

At the company, each individual sets personal objectives (e.g. wantto be a qualified Java programmer by year XXXX, aim to get new skills by attending appropriate training events etc), which are then approved by a manager (therefore something like "turn up at work" would probably get rejected).  After 6 months you have a review round whereby you get a score based on how well you achieved those objectives.  A score of 5 is the normal, while 10 is the maximum which indicates you surpassed
all your objectives to a very good degree.  This score then goes into whether you promoted or get a pay rise or both.

It's both.  Personally I think it's a pain because I'm already interested in broadening my skills and don't really enjoy setting things in stone.  But I guess it also makes me want to do well, so I get a favourable report at my review round.

My advice: exercise some discipline and remember that university does not equal drinking and parties.  You will get to drink lots when you graduate and get a job anyway, as you will be earning money then and your workmates will probably be drinking too, and if you like drinking so much you can probably still continue with it when you retire upon completion of your well paid job which should provide you with ample funds for it.

Master Of Engineering 1975
35.    John S Loughlin
Senior Engineering Project Manager -KBR

Package Manager, Utilities, YAS Island Development Abu Dhabi: responsible for the delivery of Utilities and services infrastructure for YAS Island, World Class resort and Ferrari World.  These utilities programmes are valued at $1.5 billion in 2.5 years.

My understanding of personal development planning is recognising gaps in my knowledge and understanding and doing something to fill the gap.  This would usually be by finding suitable training, moving job, seeking new challenges and trying to develop my personal life by hobbies, non vocational training, supporting organisations and family.

My company runs a global KBR university and PPR(People Performance
Results) is a must do part of employment which includes setting objectives to suit self and organisation for the benefit of both.  I also tend to set my own objectives outwith the organisation examples of which are Open University Training. Scottish School of Philosophy courses, AMP examination etc.

Take the advice I gave to my sons and which I had reinforced by an excellent Tutor from the Association of Project Management recently and that is set your study plan and stick to it in a systematic way rather than be driven at random.  I also think that it is good for students to try to align their objectives to a vision of what they want to achieve rather than just to pass exams.  Engineering Students should also give time to the proper study of the whole curriculum: the benefit of doing so comes later.  Do not be led by the apparent intentions of others but be true to yourself.  Personal Development planning should also look at the wider view rather than simply the Course Curriculum.

 Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) and 1994
36.    Chew, Foo Weng William
Manufacturing Manager, Husky Injection Moulding Systems

Manufacturing Manager responsible for managing the manufacturing and financial accountability for Hot Runner & Mould manufacturing.  Establish overall business strategies and manage a team to meet specific business deliverables.

Mapping perceptions of personal development identifies important opportunities where you need to strengthen your capabilities.  Looking at the current business trends and the current capabilities, I would plan for personal development to enable one to stand out in a competitive job market.  Improving the current inventory of knowledge, skills and experiences so that one is employable for the next 10 years since immortality rate is getting better.

I undertake PDP regularly on my own accord.  I assess my performance regularly and most intense when considering a career change or continuing an advance education.

Assess PDP before the term starts and after the term ends.

Electronic + Computing Engineering (2000)
37.    Omar Akram

IT security analyst
Provide IT security consultancy to the worlds leading IT companies.  My customers include Dell, HP, EDS and IBM.

Personal development planning is simply to visualise your short and long term goals, capture these goals and then plan to achieve them.
PD planning has played an important role in my career, as without it, I would not achieved so much within such a short period of time.  I plan my short term goals every 3 month, and my long term goals every 12 month.  I review each goal against progress, and reward myself if I am achieving.  For example, I am getting married this year, only because I managed to obtain the highest level of IT security certification
within the UK for a privately held company, so I decided to treat myself with a woman.  

When I first started working, personal development planning was something that the company had already in place for their employees.  It was part of the appraisal scheme.  But since working independently, I have continued using planning as a tool, as without it, I have no measure of my success and progress.  You must close the loop.

Everybody already does planning; it’s the method that counts.  Some people plan in their head, some plan by documenting, getting it down on paper.  My advice to students would be to start planning early, and do it by documenting your plans.  Review your plan with your seniors at suitable intervals, and take action from the feedback you receive.  PLAN -> REVIEW -> ACTION.

Civil Engineering in 1994
38.    Jason Oh Boon Chye
Linair Technologies Ltd, Executive Director

Business Director, constantly looking out for new business opportunities for our core business competency in HVAC sector.

Is all about what you want in life

Financial planning… this is very lack in the academic.  Everything
 in business… is about money and cash flow

Well, don't stop there.  Getting a degree is just a basic stepping stone for your future. Take the initiative and risk to explore new ground and not restricted yourself to what you are competent with… constantly seeking new knowledge, new ground and new "cheese".

M Eng Electronics and Electrical Engineering 1998
39.    Morna Scrimgeour (now Morna Dawson)
Communications Manager, RBS

Security and Fraud Culture and Awareness team - creating a security culture

Professional development planning is part of career development, but look carefully at your career path too. If the industry you hope to work in disappeared, what would or could you do.  I've developed a range of skills that have allowed me to transfer industry more easily than peers focused on only developing industry skills.

A bit of both.  In various jobs, training and professional development has been required e.g. crane operation in a hands-on engineering role.

Being seen as a 'self manager' has been a real key strength for me, in various roles.  No one else is going to take responsibility for you or your career; make the most of every opportunity to grow and develop.  Being a valuable team member willing to take on new tasks and skills, is just as important, if not more so, as academic or professional qualifications.  Never underestimate the value of good contacts.

Masters of Aeronautical Engineering, 2003
40.    John Laurence Ruddy
Aircraft Structures Engineer, BAE SYSTEMS

Aircraft Structures Engineer - structures engineering for the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 and designing a corrosion sensor monitoring system for the airframe.

Personal Development Plan is aligning personal objectives to business objectives and opportunities. The PDP is used in conjunction with the "Engineering Developing You" tool which measures personal engineering competencies against a set criteria of differing levels of engineering ability classification. From this, areas of development can be identified and training provided to improve skills, knowledge and experience.

Initially, it is reliant upon the engineers initiating the process.  The employer / business provides full support, once the development needs have been assessed.  I started using a PDP / EDY as soon as I started work.

I would advise to set short term (1 year), medium term (3 years) and long term (5+ years) goals in no more than one sheet of A4.  These goals should not be restricted to careers.  They should include things like where geographically the person wishes to be and there should be a good balance of work and leisure goals. If a person is passionate enough about engineering, then career goals should naturally fall out.
Once the goals have been determined, a very brief plan of how to achieve these goals should be set with regular checks (6 or 12 months) to ensure that the goals are achievable. It's ok to modify, delete or add goals - after all, life is flexible.

Civil Engineering with Architecture, 2006
41.    Kevin McNaull
Mott MacDonald Ltd, Civil Engineering Consultancy, Graduate Engineer

Graduate Civil/Structural Engineer:  Various aspects on civil and structural works, including design, optioneering, feasibility studies and site survey/inspections.

Quantifying learning, i.e. giving your level of understanding and experience a value by planning ahead to ensure as wide a variety of experience is gained throughout a career.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a process of on going learning that is required to reach charted status. Having regular appraisals with line managers also identifies areas where extra experience is required to reach a proficient level.

Make sure that what the company expects of you doesn’t sway you.  If something does not fit in with your career ambitions don't just do it because it helps one of your managers out.  Constantly ask for work that suits and benefits your career.

BEng(Hons) Electronics & Electrical Engineering 2002
42.    Russell Shipton
Reliability Engineer: TRW Automotive 



Electric Power Steering Reliability Engineer. Perform reliability analysis of the system, its components and architecture.

Personal development planning is a tool, which I use in my work to set yearly goals with my boss and to monitor and improve my workplace performance.  Interim meetings are also held to ensure I am on track to achieving the aforementioned goals. It is a a two way process as feedback is given from my boss and I input to it as well, such as my progress thoughts & specific training requests.  Areas of strengths are noted and improvement opportunities are highlighted.

It is my company's policy; however it is also useful for tracking
achievements for working toward Chartered Engineer status, started
 in 2005.

Get into the habit as early as possible!  It is necessary to work efficiently and effectively and enabling you to continually improve in your career.  Most reputable companies do it so it is good to get into the habit early.  The methods may vary from employer to employer but the results are essentially the same: effective planning, goal setting, improving key workplace skills e.g. communication, problem solving & leadership. 

B.Sc.(Hons) Electrical and Electronic Engineering 1973
43.    George Bajan


a)  Defining areas for improvement in both my personal and organisational knowledge, experience and development leading towards both personal and organisational goals.
b)  Creating a do-able plan to achieve those improvements.  Example - When I got my first promotion I realised very quickly that my broader knowledge of how organisations work was key to success in my current role and key to any potential further promotions – I persuaded my organisation to sponsor me for an MBA part-time course.

Yes on my own, and also as part of any large organisation I've been involved with.

1. University is not school - you're there because generally YOU chose to be doing the subject(s).  (Maybe not totally in year 1/2)
2. Be clear as to why you chose those subjects and where will it all lead?
3. Be clear that, despite how tough it gets, the end goal is something you WANT.
4. Be sure that you are getting some significant  level of satisfaction and enjoyment from the work you're doing.  If not, think again!