Neil Hodges is the weight engineering manager for the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA). Neil has been employed by BMT Defence
Services for almost eight years, and has been seconded to his current position. Neil is based in Bristol, UK, although he also visits
shipyards further afield.
I grew up in Cornwall and always enjoyed sailing and being near the water. At school I enjoyed engineering, maths and physics, so an engineering degree seemed like the obvious choice for me. I took A levels in maths, physics and design and technology, and then began an IMarEST-accredited marine systems technology degree at Plymouth University.
After graduation, I joined BMT Defence Services in 1999, where I worked at the head office in Bath before being seconded to the Submarine Support Management Group (SSMG) in Bristol as a senior platform design engineer. The SSMG is an alliance group made up of three companies, including BMT Defence Services which helps support the submarine fleet for the MoD. I spent three years at the SSMG before moving to the ACA in 2005. Whilst working for BMT Defence Services, I have taken an ILM level 4 Introductory Diploma in Management. I’ve also attended many different courses to build on the work skills I use on a day-to-day basis, including report writing, negotiating and presentation skills.
I am responsible for a team of six engineers who calculate the weight and centre of gravity of the two new aircraft carriers being designed for the UK’s Royal Navy. It’s essential that the weight of the aircraft carrier does not exceed design requirements otherwise it could have operational consequences to the platform, like reduced speed or stability issues. The team undertakes the calculations and I analyse and report on the data. My responsibilities also include creating and fulfilling management processes that are necessary to ensure the efficient control of the weights and centres. I am mainly office based at the moment, but there will be opportunities to be more hands on at a later stage.
In my job, good teamworking and communication skills are important. Strong organisational skills and project management abilities are also useful, I enjoy my work because it’s challenging. Different problems crop up daily and I enjoy the variety this creates. It’s great working for a company with so many opportunities. BMT Defence Services has sister companies all over the world, so I may have the chance to relocate to another country.
For anyone considering a career in engineering in the maritime industry, I think it’s important to take an accredited course. When I was looking into my next step after A levels, I didn’t realise how much an accredited degree would help me develop my career later on. Now I’m working towards ‘Chartered status’, if I had not chosen an accredited degree, I would have had to have done further study and examinations. It’s definitely worth doing some research into the degree courses you’re interested in, and getting advice from the relevant professional body. I also think it’s important to work for a company who will support and encourage you to continue learning, so you can reach our full potential.