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Thales offers flexible working and a supportive environment

Thales offers flexible working and a supportive environment

 March 14, 2016

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Julie Martin is a business manager at Thales and works flexibly. I joined Thales in 2002 as a bid and project manager, having already spent seven years working in the defence industry.  I chose Thales because of the wide diversity of activities it is involved in, the opportunities it presents for international mobility and because of its good reputation. I studied geography and topographic science at university and completed a Masters in remote sensing before joining what is now QinetiQ as a scientist.  I quickly took on a technical lead role and spent many years working in the UK and overseas leading projects aimed at improving the use of digital imagery for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance purposes. Since joining Thales, I have had various roles across three different sites (not yet quite made it overseas!) but always remained in the bid and project management job family until recently moving to the general management stream. During my 13 years in Thales, I’ve not only had the opportunity to increase my skills and grow my career but have also got married and had two children.  The flexible working Thales offers is essential to me achieving the right work life balance, not just for myself but for my family as well.

Why did you choose this career path?  

Working as a scientist was interesting and gave me the opportunity to work with many world leading experts, but my preference was always to take the lead – hence my move into Project Management.  In this role I could stay close enough to the technology whilst leading teams to bring about change and make a difference.  My preference is for development contracts, with tangible outputs that can be delivered to a Customer.   I now find my career taking me in the direction of General Management, where I have the opportunity to set the strategy and direction of travel for the business and engage the relevant teams and stakeholders to help us achieve our goals.  In a way, it is no different to Project Management, except that you don’t have a clear set of Customer requirements to deliver against. Instead you have high level objectives to which you need to bring clarity and be able to articulate them in a way everyone understands and can buy into.

Looking back, what are the highlights in your career so far?

I would say that all the highlights of my career so far have involved bids.  I love running bids! I enjoy pulling together and motivating teams for short periods of time to generate a solution to a Customer’s problem.  Whilst bids can be incredibly stressful, you always have an amazing sense of achievement at the end when you submit a good quality proposal with a competitive price. More recently, I’m enjoying setting strategy and guiding the team towards achieving our objectives and goals.  I’ve spent the last two years laying the foundations for growth within a particular business group and we are now starting to see the returns for our efforts - which is extremely rewarding.

What are the major challenges of your job today?

Stakeholder engagement is by far my biggest challenge today.  There are a wide number of internal stakeholders that I need to work with and it requires a considerable amount of effort to build and maintain the necessary relationships to ensure a successful business.  Leadership is no longer about command and control but about influencing people and working in cooperation across multiple-functions.  This isn’t something that just happens – it requires a lot of hard work and is a key part of my current role.  Twelve months ago I took a long hard look at where my areas of strength and weakness were and identified stakeholder engagement as an area I needed to focus on.  I feel I’ve made improvements over the last year, but there is always room to improve further!  

What’s next?

I fully intend to keep learning and developing myself.  If I stand still for too long I get bored so I’m always looking for the next challenge.  At the moment my challenge is to grow the business area I’ve been given.  Hence, my current focus is to do my job to the best of my abilities and once I’ve mastered it, that’s when I’ll start to look around for my next challenge.  What that will be I’ve no idea yet, but I know that within Thales there are certainly plenty of opportunities to try new things.

Why should people consider a career in Thales?

I’ve found that no one else is going to look after your career – that’s down to you. But you do need opportunities and there are definitely plenty of those within Thales. Individuals have the opportunity to establish and grow their careers in a global organisation that offers considerable variety and mobility.  For those that like change, there is the opportunity to move between sites (including overseas), between businesses and between job families. And for those that don’t crave mobility, well there’s the opportunity to specialise in your particular job and become a recognised expert.  Thales understands that to stay ahead of the competition, it needs a motivated and engaged workforce and is making a considerable investment in retaining and growing its current employees, whilst attracting new talent.  Employees at every stage of their career have the opportunity to continue to grow and develop within Thales - irrespective of age, gender or ethnicity.  The only thing holding you back is you!


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