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Anita Saunders: Business graduate learnt the importance of career planning – and used it to get a job at Rolls-Royce

Ambitious former student, Anita, studied the BTEC Extended Diploma in Business course at Derby College, helping her to fulfil her dreams of working for a large corporation.


Anita is now the Engineering Project Co-Ordinator for Rolls-Royce Plc. Here’s what she had to say to our Alumni Team about her time at college and how she built a successful career at one of the world’s leading engineering companies, despite not having an engineering qualification. Anita partly contributes her success to her meticulous planning and dedication to her goals.


“I never knew what I wanted to do for a career however I knew I wanted to work for an international corporation, as I was intrigued with how large businesses are ran,” said Anita. “I decided I wanted to work in Engineering at Rolls-Royce as it was a local company and the UK’s number 1 employer. I began to explore entry routes into the company and went from there.”


Anita began her path to Rolls-Royce at Derby College.


“College definitely helped get me to where I am today,” she said. “The BTEC Extended Diploma in Business ensured I understood a range of business units whilst enabling independence; I had control of my studies.


“This was especially helpful when I decided that I wanted to go to university, as during my BTEC I could forecast what grades I needed to ensure I met the entry requirements for my desired degree programme. This level of accountability motivated me to the next stepping-stone. Equally, a lot of my peers at college were in similar situations, needing to ensure they achieved entry requirements, which was comforting because I wasn’t alone.


“Planning, estimating and being organised is something that has stayed with me throughout university and now into employment.


“I joined Rolls-Royce as a Project Analyst and have since had roles such as Project Lead, Programme Controller and Project Engineer,” said Anita. “I have experienced breadth across different sectors of the business whilst expanding on my Project Management skillset.


“It has been a challenge being able to understand engineering concepts when it is not my field of study. However, I quickly recognised that to be a successful organisation you need more than just engineers. Plus I have been supported through training and development to understand basic engineering, which has definitely helped.


“In my current role, I am heavily involved with change management and governance of a Civil Large Engine programme,” said Anita. “I’m really proud of my personal development too. When I joined Rolls-Royce, I was a different person to how I am now. My volunteering with the organisation and the impact I have had on others (especially those going through an Early Career process) is so rewarding – I’m sharing my passion.”


Anita spoke to us more about the importance she places on setting goals to achieve your ambitions.


“Setting an ultimate career goal can be quite challenging, however, I do believe in planning for the next 3-5 years and recognising what you have achieved. I keep a comprehensive table of each job role I have had, which helps me map what my next role needs to be, pushing me up my career ladder. Of course, personal goals will evolve your professional goals (and vice versa) so I always measure my development from the ‘bigger picture’.


“I’ll definitely be staying with Rolls-Royce. I am working towards managing a small team on a large programme and exploring the potential of completing a Masters with the organisation.


Anita also had some valuable advice to share with others hoping to take a similar path.


“It’s important to know what you want and what is right for you. That doesn’t only apply professionally but personally too.


“I only secured a role with Rolls-Royce on my third interview over the course of one year. If you really want something, there is nothing stopping you because hard work does pay off. I was so dedicated because I knew it was for me, in fact it has turned out to be so much more than I expected.”

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