Peter Ayeni of Lufthansa Technik Landing Gear Services talks about the demands of managing proliferating work responsibilities alongside a part time doctoral research programme.
After a few years of working in different capacities within the aviation industry, I developed an interest in business management and was fascinated by the various business strategies that existed both within and outside the aviation industry.
Although I did not have a clear picture of my long term career aspirations at the time, I was sure that there were more effective approaches to business success. I stumbled across lean as a management philosophy and, much struck, presented its case to my employer who agreed to fund me in a research programme to investigate its merits further.
After much consultation with both industry experts and professionals, I settled on Cranfield University as the best location for this study and enrolled on a part-time doctoral research degree while still in full time employment.
Shortly after, as part of an organisation wide initiative, an intensive lean programme was launched at Lufthansa. With my growing experience and familiarity with the subject, I was thrust into the deep end.
My responsibilities immediately grew from being a technical/design engineer to include significant lean deployment assignments – all besides the requirements of the doctoral research. Within the company’s lean transformation programme, I served in various functions ranging from the formulation of the company’s change story to other significant project management tasks and even the coaching and training of staff across the whole company structure.
The impact that this work had on company performance was pronounced. Over the two years following the launch of the lean transformation programme, the company went on to realise its best financial results ever, a feat that was all the more significant considering the 2008 global financial crises was still on-going.
The transition between my various roles has been rather jolting and striking a good balance between them and my research has not been easy. Although the company has been very supportive in funding the research, the demands of the day-job have meant that my research has been predominantly carried out outside of working hours. This has translated into very long days at work to ensure that neither my research nor the company are compromised.
Thankfully, my supervisory team at Cranfield has been extremely supportive and resourceful in helping me align my daily tasks with my research focus whenever possible. I have been able to leverage their knowledge and experience in realising a successful research programme which is now at its final phases.
Where necessary, they have exposed me to the right amount of pressure and pointed me in the direction of relevant sources of information or practical experience. These include taught modules on relevant subjects like Operations Excellence or germane research meetings. I have been challenged to present my research findings at conferences, write and publish articles in journals and even organise a workshop with industry experts to refine and validate research findings.
Now, I have a clearer picture of my career aspirations and I have been equipped with the right tools, methods and strategies to successfully achieve them. Although it has been very demanding working and studying at the same time, it has afforded me the invaluable chance to gain experience and qualifications which are now crucially important in realising my career aspirations. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would jump at the opportunity with no hesitation.