Jayne Bryant FREng is Engineering Technology Director for Defence Information at BAE Systems
“I get the biggest kick out of seeing others achieve results.”
How would you describe your current role to someone who knows nothing about engineering?
As the Engineering Director for BAE Systems Defence Information, my team of circa 600 engineers and I have responsibility for delivery of defence information end to end products and services, through the total lifecycle from concept to disposal. We ensure our products and services meet our customer needs and all regulatory requirements.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
Becoming an engineer really happened by accident. In the 1970s I had seen my older sister struggle to get a job as a mathematics teacher and though I really loved the subject, I looked at accountancy and computer science instead.
GEC Marconi had started a course for aspiring software engineers and they were located just five miles up the road from me. What’s more, unlike accountancy, they were offering to pay you for doing it, so that’s what really made my mind up!
What do you like most about being an engineer?
I’m lucky not just to have had a very successful career in engineering, but to have always enjoyed what I do. I particularly like to be given a big challenge and there have been quite a few of those over the years.
My role changed a lot as I progressed, and as a result, my outlook changed too. I used to get most satisfaction from accomplishing tasks given to me; now I get the biggest kick out of seeing others achieve results.
Tell us about an achievement that you are most proud of.
When BAE acquired Marconi, I moved into an engineering strategy role before becoming the company’s first female engineering director in the UK, based in Rochester, Kent.
How do you think gender parity in engineering can be achieved?
The ‘hard hat’ image that is often portrayed for engineers is not helping to encourage women into engineering. We need to engage early with girls to explain what a great career engineering can be and do everything to encourage them into this field. Getting girls in to see our work environment will help and at BAE Systems, we recently held a ‘Girls into Engineering Evening’, which was a huge success with 80 girls coming to our site for a tour and to hear talks from current engineering graduates and apprentices.
How has being a woman in engineering changed since you started working in the engineering sector?
I can honestly say that I have never felt at a disadvantage by being a female engineer and I have managed to fit family life into my career – I have triplets who recently turned 22 - though I have to say there is a lot more help and support available to women in the company now than there was when I started, including women’s networks and the introduction of the BAE Systems Work Life Integration Policy.
What would you say to someone considering a career in engineering?
People ask me what makes a good engineer and I think that top of the list is an enquiring mind, personal integrity and a desire to make things happen. There is a lot of problem-solving in engineering, and a good engineer must also recognise the need to honour their commitments.
Energy and enthusiasm are important. Experience will always count for a lot, but new talent is vital because it gives you a different way of looking at things.