Matthew Pike studied MEng in Electronics and Communications Engineering and graduated in 2014. He currently works as a Senior Bid Manager at Siemens Mobility
How do you feel your time at Kent prepared you for working in the industry?
During my time at university it did not feel like I was being “set up” for the world of work. It was only until after I graduated that I appreciated the subtleties of my degree and what it taught me. Although my day to day job relies very little on the theory learnt during my degree, the skills I learnt through projects, report writing, business skills and communications helped mould me into the person I am today.
What did you learn in your degree that has been beneficial to you in your role?
As I say, the theory learnt has taken a back seat as I now work in the Rail industry which does not align to my degree. That said, business modules and the group projects helped give me the foundations in order to succeed. I have been able to build on those skills through the early part of my career always able to fall back on the experiences I had at university.
What are your main responsibilities and tasks?
As a Senior Bid Manager I am responsible for the coordination of proposals to our clients to undertake project works. I work for Siemens Mobility who provide Rail Signalling solutions. I manage small teams of experts in a variety of fields including engineering, installation, testing, commercial, finance and planner amongst others. I pull the team together to produce compelling proposals in terms of price, programme and technical methodologies. I write responses to client responses similar to reports that were written in university comprising of a variety of information including technical solution, methodology, health & safety, environmental and sustainable delivery processes. Along side this I have to manage bids aligning to bid budgets to ensure we do not over spend to produce these bids.
Bids are like delivering projects over a 6 week period and I am able to gain exposure of all types of technology that my business has to offer as well as being able to work with industry leading experts in the Rail industry.
Are you working on any exciting projects that you can share?
The most exciting project I am currently working on is High Speed 2 (HS2). HS2 is a high-speed railway line that is under construction in the United Kingdom between London and Leeds/Manchester. As a new build railway it uses a mix of conventional and novel technologies and we are currently in the bidding stage for the signalling scheme. As this will be the most advanced railway in the UK it enables Siemens to come up with cutting edge technology in the signalling space utilising our research and development team to push the use of Artificial intelligence, complex telecommunication networks, safety critical infrastructure and augmented reality. As the railway in the UK is predominately from the Victorian era, this is the first time in a few years we will see technological advancements in rail which will be really exciting to witness
What are your plans for the future?
There are a number of really exciting projects on the horizon for rail but the most exciting change I will witness is the digitalisation of the UK railway. My aim is to stay at the forefront of this technology. My plan is to remain in tendering for some years but eventually find a project that I can follow from Tender through to Project and become a Project Manager. A company the size of Siemens really puts an emphasis on developing its staff to be the best you can be.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same career path?
When I finished my degree in 2014, I had no real plan on what I wanted to do. I saw my peers applying for specific roles as software developers, telecoms engineers and product managers and I had no idea what I wanted to do. As a result I decided to do a graduate programme at a company I had heard of. I applied for roles at many of the leading engineering companies in the UK. Siemens gave me that opportunity and it was after the first week they asked me what I would like to do. I put myself into the rail team as I was interested in trains. Although my degree did not align with rail engineering it has not stopped me from having a great career so far. I was flexible and that worked for me. I have since been a sponge for information listening to those around me and picking up the knowledge I need to succeed. Therefore my advice is “it is ok if you don’t know what career you want, the right career will find you”
What was your favourite memory from your time at Kent?
My favourite memory is of the Jennison Tea Bar. I am not sure how much money I spent on tea there but I used to love sitting around after a lecture or during an all day lab chatting about all sorts of things with the guys and girls on my course. Subtly that was really useful for me at work now as it prepares you well when you go and get a tea and you can just chat to whoever is in the kitchen and build working relationships.