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My job explained: Technical learning manager

tony moloneyTony Moloney is UK Manager for technical learning, development and talent at the National Grid. Read on to find out more about his job training the engineers of tomorrow.

Could you briefly explain your job?

I work in areas from Engineering Capability: Education & Skills Policy through to provision of Technical Learning and Development Interventions and Talent programmes (Graduates, Advanced Engineering & Apprentices). I am responsible for three large learning centres located at Eakring, Hitchin & Hollinwood, which are graded OFSTED 1 and have Beacon Status, placing them in the top 5% of UK education provision.

When did you decide to become an engineer?

As a child! I have always been fascinated with how things work and curious about the built environment and design. I started to seriously think about becoming an engineer when I was around 15 or 16 years of age.

What’s your educational background, and how did your career progress from there?

I have an Eng/BEng Degree (GCGI) and a HNC in Mechanical Engineering. I also have a Post Grad Diploma in Management and studied a four Year Indentured Mechanical Engineering Technician Apprenticeship alongside professional I.Eng, MIET and MIGEM qualifications.

I started as a technician / student engineer apprentice in automotive manufacturing which led to becoming a Production Engineer. I then progressed into a number of engineering and senior operational management roles, in process and utilities industries in the UK, Germany and Netherlands.

What is the best thing about your job?

I have always had jobs where engineering knowledge and experience were central to performing the role effectively, whether in direct engineering roles or related commercial roles. My current role allows me to continue with this approach which I thoroughly enjoy, by helping my company (National Grid Plc) to build engineering capability and develop tomorrow’s workforce. The most rewarding part is seeing the young talent we bring into the organisation as apprentices, foundation engineers and graduates, develop into our future engineers and leaders.

What personal qualities are important for your job?

You need strong leadership, interpersonal and influencing qualities alongside a strategic mindset and broad business awareness. You also need financial and commercial knowledge and a solid understanding of engineering & education

What have been the biggest challenges in getting to where you are now?

Really understanding the education and skills landscape and knowing how to navigate the system in a way that will support and complement your career. It’s complex!

Early on, it’s a challenge to build support and confidence with business colleagues in oneself as a ‘brand’ – the confidence to take ownership and lead high value investments through to delivery. That’s critical for career progression.

Where do you think you’ll be in five years’ time?

Probably still connected to engineering education and learning, continuing to lead and cooperate with skills organisations and government to improve the range and quality of pathways into engineering and promote engineering as a career of choice.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?

Have a plan! Even an outline plan that just points you in the right direction. It gives you a vector to work to and it builds self confidence as you progress. Of course all plans need to be flexible and if opportunity does not come to you, reach out to find it yourself. Having no plan leaves you rudderless and without purpose, which will lead to frustration and disappointment.

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