What Alumni Think Continued  Back

B.Sc 1968

44.    Anonymous

MD Industrial Systems and Control Limited

Managing Director, responsible for all strategic and day-to-day operational aspects of ISC Ltd's business

Firstly it is important to make a career plan as early as possible (Ideally, prior to graduation).  Although not too detailed, there has to be enough in it to identify key milestones etc.  Secondly within the plan the key skills required at each stage of the career have to be identified.  Ideally the training courses and experience to be gained will be highlighted.

For myself, I followed a broad career plan and was able to recognise opportunities when they arose and the need for change when my path was deviating in a way that I had not planned and did not want.

As a chartered engineer I am required to ensure that continuing professional development (CPD) keeps me abreast of technology and management developments.

Make a career plan that identifies a series of broad career objectives against a timescale.  Be prepared to be flexible in its pursuit (opportunities are not always in the shape originally envisioned).  Be prepared to grab good opportunities when they appear, especially in the earlier phases of your career.  Try to average 3/5 years duration with a given company/organisation for the first ten years.  After that tenure should be slightly longer.


Electronics & Electrical Engineering 1991

45.    Ren Sharma

Carphone Warehouse Limited - Head of Pre-Paid Cards Operations

Head of Prepaid Cards Operations
Deal with printing, invoicing, distribution of prepaid cards as well as assisting with marketing campaigns (ideas and copy) and acting as senior user in all projects involving the department.

Personal development planning is a path on which one looks to travel in the pursuit of enhancing your skill-set, as well as perhaps gaining further professional qualifications (post your first degree), with the aim of facing bigger challenges and often greater rewards, both financial and personal, in the future.

I evaluated what I perceived to be my lack of progress in my professional life almost 3-4 years ago and concluded that I had been in a comfort zone for quite some time.  I have since undertaken to embark on a MBA course in the past year and to invest in myself as I feel I have failed to realise my full potential.  I also regret not defining my
goals from the outset as I have wasted a lot of time just treading water...

Define your long-term goals whether it is to be the CEO of a blue chip company or to be self-employed in ten years time.  Thereafter, investigate what are perceived to be the levels of experience as well as professional qualifications that may support your efforts in realising your goals.  Once you've attained your degree, regularly review and update your career plan, evaluating where you are, as well as where you want to be.  Take control and don't lose sight of your goals otherwise it’s all too easy to lapse into a comfort zone...  You've been given a wonderful opportunity to learn and springboard yourself onto a path of success - make sure you capitalise on this and manage your time accordingly.  

PDE 2001

46.    Anonymous

Product design engineer, Crombie Anderson

Product design engineer:  complete product development process, from concept to manufacture.

I don't know the term PDP but sure I do use goal setting exercises.  Not for my job though, just personal goals.  I like the book 'Zen and the art of making a living'.  It’s full of good exercises to identify what you want to do and put it into action.

I drifted through school and university with very limited goals other than enjoying myself and not failing too many exams.  I only started to question my goals after uni when I realised I had a lot of options.

It’s not about what you do or how you do it.  These are easy when you sort out the 'why'.  No one will teach you the 'why' at University.  It is different for everybody.  I don't much bother with all the goal planning and tasking and scheduling - I think that’s all just neurotic bureaucracy.  


Mechanical Engineering with Aeronautics, 2005

47.    Allan Drennan

Direct Entry Graduate, Airbus UK

I am a 'Direct Entry Graduate', or DEG, which involves undergoing
a two-year training program made up of eight, three-month placements.  Placements options are wide ranging and can be in pretty much any part of the business, so long as it fits with your placement plan (which is a kind of personal development plan).  The placement plan maps out the experience I want to gain over the two years of the Graduate Scheme and as such I have had the chance to work in areas such as the A380 Final Assembly Line in Toulouse, France and at a customer Airline.  The Graduate scheme also includes other periods of training spread over the course of the two years, whilst we are given several mentors within the business to steer us in the right direction with regards to personal and technical development over the two years.

Personal development planning is a way of mapping out where you are, where you want to get to and what training/learning you need to undertake to achieve your goals within the desired time.  This can be done by putting together a plan and using the advice of senior people with past experience of the same industry.

Personal development planning is required in the profession if you want to manage your time and training effectively.  It is not enforced, but everyone does it to some extent and it is actively encouraged by senior management. We are given guidance on how to do this, for example by producing placement plans for the two years of the graduate scheme, and are given mentors who are senior people in the business that we can consult for advice.

I started using personal development planning as soon as I joined the company as I was required to think about what I wanted to achieve over the course of the two years on the scheme.  I also had to manage my time effectively during placements, in order to get my work done, whilst finding time to fit in all the training that I had to undertake.  Planning was necessary in order to carry out my work effectively.

Looking back, I think I could have been much more proactive and effective
at organising my studies during my time at the university.  Also, being on a graduate scheme at present and having to think about the training and skills I want to gain over the next two years, it has made me look at where I was before I joined the company, where I wanted to get to and how I was going to achieve it.  By giving these things some thought, putting some sort of plan together on paper and by consulting mentors with the relevant experience, I have become better at managing my own development. It would be useful to follow a similar pattern whilst at university and it is definitely a valuable thing to have to talk about when going to interviews.

B. Eng. in Aeronautics, 1999

48.    Anonymous

Energy Analyst, International Energy Agency

Energy Analyst, focusing on the analysis of energy demand in transport.

Frankly, I don't know much about "personal development planning".

M Eng Mechanical Design Engineering, 2003

49.    Alasdair Weir

Mechanical Equipment Engineer, M.W. Kellogg Ltd

Flawless Start-up Coordinator and Single Point of Contact.  Working with two sub-contractors to implement a new quality initiative from Shell. Also handle all interface queries with other contractors on the Pearl GTL gas refinery project in Qatar.

As stated below I use two forms of personal development planning on a formal basis.  However I believe that having a clear understanding in your mind of the roles, responsibilities and experiences you want to have over the next few years is the most useful form of development planning.  It is good to get it down on paper but you must have it in your head before you can do this.  I have turned down several opportunities within my company because they were inline with where I want to go.  On the other hand I have also accepted at least one good offer from a division in the company, which, were my plan to go awry, I can use as a fallback to keep my work interesting.

The route to mechanical engineering chartered status (MPDS with the IMechE) requires personal development planning to be undertaken.  Every quarterly report must state learning/experience objectives for that quarter and the report itself should detail what you have done to meet the objectives. In this way a clear development path can be planned.  M.W.  Kellogg Ltd also runs a corporate development programme called People, Performance, Results (PPR).  This system has two parts: performance objectives and development objectives, both of which are reviewed at the end of each year with our managers.  This system is very useful for the employee to communicate to the company positions which he or she wants to move onto next. Annual pay rises are based upon employee and manager's assessment of the employee's performance over the last year.

My advice for students whilst at university probably differs from others, but it is this: Be flexible when looking for your first job in industry because there are many opportunities out there and you may miss them if you are determined to enter a particular sector.  For example I was determined to enter the car industry, but I have
been in the gas refinery design and construction industry since graduating and I'm very grateful that I didn't stick to my guns.  This industry is so diverse that there are countless opportunities to find the perfect role.  Focus on how you will develop in general as an engineer, not in a specific industry. My final piece of advice is to remember that your development is YOUR responsibility, not your company's or manager's etc.  When asked "who is in charge of your career development" many people naturally say "my manager".  This is wrong!  You are the person responsible for your career and it is up to you to search out the opportunities and decide what is best for you.

BEng Aerospace Engineering, 1999

50.    George Babos

British Airways Maintenance Cardiff: Department of production, aircraft mechanic

I am an aircraft mechanic.  My duties include servicing, repairing, replacing aircraft components and generally performing preventative maintenance on the company's Boeing 747 aircraft fleet.

I understand the above term to be describing a structured and concise plan of action with regard's to someone's career development. In simple terms what do I want to do, by when will I be able to achieve it, what actions will I have to take in order to achieve it?  Although I haven't used a career development plan as such, I have
planed some parts of my career development.  The fact that I decided to go to Glasgow uni and study aeronautical engineering wasn't exactly part of a master plan in order for me to become an aeronautical engineer.  It was more like my chosen way of entering the aviation industry.  A few years down the line and after graduating I decided to specialise in aircraft maintenance.  Again a few years have passed and I got my aircraft maintenance engineer's licence, but not as smoothly as originally planed.  Real life made sure that there were disruptions and interferences with my career development plans. So, my career is still developing and I just keep re-evaluating my goals and re-adjusting my plans accordingly.  (Until the day I win the lottery and I will stop worrying about my personal career development plans...)

My employer does not require me to have a personal development plan.
It is up to me to have the ambition and the drive to gain more knowledge and experience.  As long as I arrive and depart from my workplace the times I am supposed to and I do the amount of work I am expected to produce, no one will come and ask me what have I gained today, or whether I have met my personal development goals for today.  It is up to me to keep making career development plans and focus on how to make them feasible.  

Maybe it will be required from you to produce a personal/career development plan as part of a course assignment.  That is all in good spirit by your faculty in order to produce good quality graduates.  Try to think of you and your development in the engineering industry outside the scope of course work or because someone asked you to produce such a development plan. However, do not spend too much time thinking about your future, because the more you do the less time you are spending in the present.  Try and live the university life to the full because that is a unique environment that can not be relived after you leave uni.  Enjoy your time at Glasgow University!  

Product Design Engineering, 2004

51.    Anonymous

Industrial Designer for a global data storage system OEM.

Industrial Designer. I work closely with the Senior Product Design Engineer to oversee product development and ensure that aesthetics, usability and design for manufacture are understood and implemented by the design engineers. I also personally create custom design options (predominantly plastic mouldings) for customer specific brands.

I have a monthly CDP (Career Development Planning) meeting with my manager in which I go through work I have done.  This includes things that went well, things that didn't go so well.  From this I create a list of specific and more general areas to improve on. I also have a year plan where I set myself goals or tasks to achieve in the coming year.

Specific examples of "personal" development planning.  I guess my main problem has been confidence.  I have been aware of this shortcoming and have worked hard to improve upon it.  Confidence is something that comes naturally with experience.  Courses are great for improving confidence.  They provide a safe environment where you can test your abilities.  I went on a negotiation course which was excellent and really proved that I can be very assertive and more importantly I learnt that I actually enjoyed it! I now look for opportunities where I can practise this in real life. These tend to be situations where I am slightly out of my comfort zone but I am finding that this comfort zone is becoming much wider and I am much more affective at work.

Everyone has a CDP meeting with his or her manager within the company.  I think that's great and definitely pushes you on.  I am naturally quite self-critical and so would like to think that I would search to improve on things anyway.  That said, sometimes your manager/colleagues may pick up on issues that you had not even thought of or noticed about yourself.

Get experience.  The only way you'll learn about yourself and your capabilities.  You may already know some of your strengths and weaknesses which I'm sure you can improve upon but until you're put in real-life situations you wont know what is expected of you. Write down the things you struggle with and make this the basis of your plan for improvement.  If you can't get direct work experience put yourself in uncomfortable situations and learn from them.  There's a reason why you find them uncomfortable - because it's a weak spot - learn not to be afraid of your weaknesses, make it your plan to tackle them head-on.  Keep a record of these things and set yourself goals for improvement.  Track your improvement - it's always satisfying to see how far you've come.


BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering with Aeronautics, July 2005

52.    Christopher Browne

Graduate Engineer, Thales

Mechanical Design Engineer. Design Mechanical Products for the defence industry, specifically naval applications.

Through the Thales Graduate Programme I aim to fulfil the requirements for chartered status with the I Mech E.  Within this I plan and track my progress using the I Mech E's facilities.  I input quarterly development plans, submit reports on the training I have undertaken and review my outcomes on a quarterly basis.

It is not an essential requirement, but chartered status is a highly sought after recognition in the mechanical field and personal development is part of the method of obtaining the recognition.

Developing the tools to record your development at an earlier stage of your studies is very beneficial.  Also the tools should be in line with the institution you wish to join, as this will save you a lot of time and effort.


Electronics & Electrical Engineering with Music, 1997

53. Anonymous 

Reporting Accountant, Shell

Reporting accountant, responsible for the preparation of group accounts and management information.

I had a lot of support from my first company, which took the decision-making out of the process, but also left me little choice.  Further down the line I realised I had been pushed along a path I didn't want to go.  It was great, because I kept learning, but it became too uncomfortable and so I made the decision to take control.

I think I have always been aware of learning opportunities.  Although it was required in my first role, it's now something I do out of choice.

PDP is very difficult if you are not sure what you want to do for the next ten years.  Don't see your career as a job you will do for forty years.  Always be aware of the fringes of your profession and see it as stepping-stones to a whole new area.  Even if it's not at all connected to your job at the moment, something like learning a new language could be the deciding factor in whether you get your dream job at some point in the future.


M Eng Aeronautical Engineering, 1992.

54.    Philip J T Bradshaw

Position: Skill Group Leader, Future Projects, Airbus UK Ltd

Skill Group Leader, Future Projects.  I lead a trans-national group of engineers who undertake conceptual component design on the wing and landing gear.

Personal development planning is about having a schedule of either on or off the job, self-lead, tutor lead or coached training that is focused on delivering improvements in the individual's personal or technical skills as required by the job they are currently doing, or the role they are expected to pick up next.  This training plan must be agreed between the individual, and whomever they report to who is accountable for ensuring their skills are aligned with the job they do.  This is done formally in Airbus at least twice a year, and can be updated more frequently, as required.  The plan is targeted to ensure at least those engineers who have exceeded both objectives and behaviours receive the continued commitment of the company to ensure continued growth of their capability to the business.  Such courses as Middle Managers Training, Continued Professional Development Aerospace (CPDA) company sponsored 5 year part-time MSc, a catalogue of leadership & management development etc. The PDP needs to be kept relevant, and must be owned, by the individual & their hierarchy.

PDPs are required of everyone in Airbus, and are part of the annual review process (i.e. the 'PDR' in Airbus, or Personal Development Review of behaviours & objectives). Everyone has one.

Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are - be brutally honest
with yourself to do this, and focus on bringing the weaker areas up to speed first. Review and update this moving picture as you progress through your career. If you believe a certain career direction is for you, prepare for it and discuss it with your tutor/ manager ASAP to lay the groundwork.  They may be able to assist you in achieving your career role goals.  Also, be absolutely realistic in your expectations of what you can commit to, as everyone has limits to their available time outside of work.  Treat every targeted bit of training as an opportunity to challenge yourself, to get the most out of it.  Always try to do follow-on work e.g. an assignment, following the training if not immediately exploited in every day work, as assignments really do demonstrate whether or not you've understood the topic and it's application.  Remember that this is about you getting the most out of yourself - if you can't do this yourself, then you can't expect anyone else to do it for you.

BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering 2002

55.    Chris Remigio

Engineer:  Ove Arup & Partners

Consultant Mechanical Engineer: design mechanical building services.

Personal development planning for me has involved being part of the I Mech E's accredited training scheme and making time with mentors and senior engineers to improve my knowledge and build on my skills.  For me, it also means taking an active interest in the industry I work in and making efforts to learn more about subjects that interest me.  I've found it very beneficial to develop a practice of confidently, asking questions and having less fear around not knowing information.

Generally both.  The onus is much more on me to develop professionally.
I started PDP with my first employer on the IMechE training scheme and have continued ever since.  

It can be easier to manage your study time etc if you think of being a student as being like a full-time occupation, i.e. like a full-time job and so you develop better boundaries around study time, lesson times, rest times etc.  Try to develop an interest in engineering, and the wider aspects of engineering.  Once you have things that really interest you it's much easier to then try and develop.

B.Sc (Hons) Civil Engineering 1966

56.    David Robertson

Principal Engineer, Fluor Sugar Land TX

Lead CSA Engineer Multi Projects Group for Fluor Tx. Supervise and administer to several projects for front-end engineering and detailed design for upstream and down stream petrochemical facilities and chemical plants

I am a registered Professional Engineer in several US states.  All require a minimum of fifteen hours a year personal development, to keep registered.

The necessity made me keep better records of my personal development, and made me make better plans to ensure I reached my yearly goals.

Start planning early, and make it something that becomes part of your work. Keep good records or where, when, and who was instructing.

Mechanical engineering 1995

57.    Anonymous

Engineering manager, FMC Technologies

I have technical responsibility for a sub-sea, production system project.

Gathering valuable experience to be able to take on more challenging jobs in a structural way.  FMC Technologies had a graduate training program that helped me become a chartered engineer, I have also completed an MBA while working.

I have never had a formal development plan (apart from the graduate training scheme), but have always looked to develop more within the  company and take on more challenging jobs.


BEng(Hons) Avionics (Electronics) 1992

58.    Anonymous

Regional Manager, Asia & Middle East Risk Management Solutions. Royal

 & Sun Alliance

Provide leadership and direction to the risk management teams embedded within each of the country operations in Asia & Middle East.

PDP is imperative in ensuring continuing professional development of both technical and behavioural/personal skills.  It is important too.

Not required, although very encouraged within the organisation to build our skills for now and the future.  I started using PDPs about 5yrs ago as a method to set my own goals.

It's not difficult - it helps to talk to others about your thoughts and they can challenge and support you in this process.  Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.


B.Eng Avionics 1991

59.    Martin Reid

Consultant, Detica

Senior Manager: IT consulting in financial services with a particular focus on Business Intelligence.  Responsible internally for delivery management (Developing the skills of my team of project managers), Career mentoring (Personal development of staff assigned to me) and, finally, growth of project team members.

A formal process within Detica.  Define a career plan (short, medium and long term), set objectives annually and monitor performance annually.

Both.  Career planning is an essential tool to enable you to understand what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it.


Set yourself some goals, however small.  Studies have proven that individuals that have set goals at an early stage in their careers have generally done better.  I did this and have done well to date.

BEng Aeronautical Engineering, 2001

60.    Gillian Adam

Design Engineer, Spirit AeroSystems (Europe) Ltd

Spirit AeroSystems (Europe) Ltd is an aero-structures company.  We design, build and assemble Leading and Trailing edges for commercial aircraft. Airbus, Boeing and Hawker Beechcraft are current customers.

My job title is Design Engineer, although my business cards say Stress Engineer.  At the minute I am seconded to the New Business Bid team.  Working on structural presentations and scheduling as well as researching different technology development ideas.  My day-to-day job involves working on sustaining design for our Boeing programs and working on concessions for our Airbus and Hawker Beechcraft programs.

My understanding of Personal Development is when you take responsibility
 and control of your career development.

Personal development is something that I discovered once I'd finished university.  Unfortunately I graduated with an Aeronautical Engineering degree a few months before the Sept 11 terrorist attacks!  Needless to say, the job market for our year went through the floor!  I ended up working in the Commissions department for a Pensions Company in Edinburgh.  Although this wasn't what I wanted to do in the long term
it made me focus on what exactly I wanted from my job and career.  I think looking back on when I graduated I didn't have a clear idea about what I wanted to do.  My time in the pensions company helped me focus on what I really wanted from my career, rather than 'just getting a job' which is what I wanted when I finished uni.

As for personal development, Spirit has a programme in place that gives you £100 each year to spend on any courses you want (as long as it's a certificated course).  I've used my money so far to attend a few nationally recognised hillwalking navigation courses.

My advice to anyone would be to get as much as they can from the University experience.  Looking back I didn't take enough responsibility for my own learning.  It's not that I expected everything to be handed to me, but I now realise that I didn't have the self confidence to go and ask help from my lecturers when I needed it.  If anyone was in that situation now I would advise them to make a list of the topics they are having trouble with and go and see the lecturer....at the end of the day if you ask for help then and there and the lecturer has another commitment then ask them for a suitable time for you to go back!  Just remember, you have the right to ask…and they have the right to say 'not at the minute'.

BSc, 1965

61.    Anonymous

Now retired apart from non-executive directorships

See above

Long-term personal development planning played no part at all in my career.  Over 40 years, I moved from engineering to insurance broking, back to engineering then to educational software before retiring.


For professional attainment within engineering, probably essential nowadays.  For those with an entrepreneurial leaning, self-management is important but PDP may be less so.

BEng(Hons) 1997

62.    Anonymous

Head of Engineering Section, Miri Port Authority, Sarawak, Malaysia.

Mechanical Engineer, overall Port's Asset Maintenance, including Cargo
Handling Equipment, Building M & E Facilities, Civil & Structure Maintenance,
 Project Management and Quality & OSH management systems in work.

Personal development planning is personal goal in life, what you want to be in near future.  Normally, as a start, we will try to build up competencies in our core engineering tasks, our duties in society and organization.  Then, obtain professional membership in relevant institution (CEng, M I Mech E, P Eng.)  After five years, then try to obtain higher management skill, make ourselves familiar with financial management, HR management / development, involve in goal setting for organisation, etc.  As it go along, it will build up confident for ourselves.
I think by our engineering training, engineers should, already have the fast learning behaviour.  Our professional institution as well guided us to obtain our CPD hours in order to maintain the professional membership, etc.  

For Engineering final year students, I proposed they should take up the Dip FM from ACCA, understand how quality, occupational safety & health & environment issue relate to Engineering practices.  It is useful and practical when we start to work, we cannot run away from all the above mention.


Electronic and Electrical Eng 1994

63.    Colin Riach

Air Traffic Controller, NATS

Operational air traffic controller and ops support.  As an operational controller responsible for safe , orderly and efficient control of flights across the North Atlantic.  In ops support, responsible for new procedures.

In NATS we use C4P, which stands for coaching for performance.  It is a system where twice a year you sit down with your line manager to set and review targets  Performance is indicated by red, amber or green, depending on how you have meet the agreed targets.  You can also attend a development centre where you carry out a presentation and a couple of interviews.  Then you get feedback to help you try to develop your career.

Personal development is something that you can do as much of or as little depending, on the person.

The best advice I can give is not to sit and wait for things to happen, if you want your career to develop you must make it happen.

1997 Mech Eng Hons

64.    Anonymous

Director Granite City Media

Performer and producer:  I work as an actor, improviser, stunt performer, filmmaker on stage and screen.

Glasgow University did not teach this, or value it.  PDP is now essential and ongoing in my life.  

Both.  On a personal and professional level it is essential.  Started approximately in 2000, because I felt I lacked skills and guidance.

Enrol on duties outside Uni, volunteer, start clubs, set challenges and goals, and find a willing mentor for professional development.

Mechanical Engineering (M Eng) 2005

66.    Rowan Mary Matthews
Graduate Engineer, REACT Engineering
Project Engineer

I am currently on the IMechE monitored professional development scheme (MPDS) and am working toward becoming chartered.  REACT is the smallest company in the UK (26 employees) to run the MPDS scheme.  There are 5 competencies, which you are assessed against when you apply for chartership.  Briefly they are; knowledge, application of knowledge, technical and commercial leadership, interpersonal skills and commitment to development (both personal and sustainable engineering).  www.imeche.org/profdev/mpds/underukspec/

Each quarter, along with my mentor, I set objectives to cover these objectives.  We can easily identify which areas are strong and also where additional work is required.  My objectives are based around the work I'm actually doing and my work is planned to ensure I manage to cover all areas.  This may include managing another engineer, tackling a technically challenging projects, giving a presentation or even actively promoting engineering through the local schools.  I'm approaching the end of my first year and strive to achieve level 1 (awareness) in all areas.

Although it is strongly encouraged by my company it is not compulsory.  I started the scheme when I joined REACT in October 2006.  It’s an important tool in helping my levels of experience, and therefore my career, progress.

It is important to take control of the scheme, you don't get paid to do it or given any resource time to do it, but it is very beneficial my personal development and I can see the way it helps me progress and get additional responsibility.

It is also important to understand the process and see the bigger picture.  I'm not assessed against the levels I should be at now but against the levels required to become chartered (minimum of 4years experience).  I've found this very different to university.  You may be meeting, or even exceeding expectations, and still only achieve level 1.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for any more information, I would be happy to compile a more comprehensive report of personal/professional development within my company.  I think it is of particular interest as it is a small company.