Steve Hartley, manufacturing engineering programme manager at Rolls-Royce describes his experience of Cranfield University’s professional MSc in Operations Excellence – the breadth toolbox.
In 2011 I was identified by my current employer, Rolls-Royce Plc, as having the potential to succeed at a higher level within the management structure.
Having secured funding, I was able to grasp an opportunity to be part of the next intake on Cranfield University’s professional MSc in Operations Excellence. I had heard of the course in despatches and been fortunate to work for and with colleagues from previous cohorts. I had seen that they possessed something different in their approach to work that seemed to open doors for them and accelerate success.
As a time served technical apprentice and degree qualified mechanical engineer with fast approaching 20 years experience working within the aerospace industry, I never imagined I would be where I am today – back at university. Now I know that there are no real boundaries to what I can still achieve within the business, it really is up to me.
I have had many jobs over the years, attended many training courses in various disciplines and worked tirelessly through a four year part-time mechanical engineering degree at Manchester Metropolitan University in the early noughties. I have always challenged myself to do my best and I have been very fortunate to come across people in industry who have given me time, opportunities and shared knowledge. This has given me a platform on which to grow – building on the best parts of what I have learned to create my own style of people and task management.
“I have just taken on a new and challenging role at Rolls Royce which I am convinced would not have been offered to me without my learning from the MSc” – Steve Hartley, manufacturing engineering programme manager at Rolls-Royce
The Operations Excellence course has augmented this foundation. There are now just six months of the two year course left and I feel I am becoming fluent in a new language; Cranfield calls it the ‘language of leadership’. It is a broad language that emphasises and embraces change. It is the language that affords us the chance to deliver business and manufacturing strategies, technological innovation, effective factory design and allows us to understand the impact and interaction of factors in business such as people, finances, social and market forces and performance management.
The course is well balanced. It allows the opportunity to learn the theory, and then to use it in a series of well prepared scenarios during residential weeks, before taking the knowledge back to our business units.
I feel I am better prepared to engage in conversations that two years ago I would not even have had a seat at the table for – let alone be able to articulate my views on change and the future.
I am able to confidently run workshops, guide my teams to feel empowered to deliver commitments that we have shaped together. I can convince people of the need to protect the bottom line while also maintaining a view of the bigger picture.
I have just taken on a new and challenging role at Rolls Royce which I am convinced would not have been offered to me without my learning from the MSc. I am embarking on an exciting journey to deliver a potentially disruptive technology aimed at enabling growth, competitive advantage and manifesting design intent in reliable, value for money products for customers.
Only now do I understand what that ‘something different’ in the colleagues who had gone before me through this course was. They had breadth, a competency that is not easy to define and even harder to gain without help.