After more than two decades across a number of teams, Jade McCready’s career with BAE Systems is still thriving. In her current role as Head of Discipline, Electromagnetics, for Air Sector, Jade is responsible for leadership, management and governance of the Discipline and its constituent capabilities, ensuring Electromagnetic Engineering resource and capability is available where needed today and into the future. It’s an exciting and challenging position, but what keeps Jade engaged is BAE Systems’ commitment to equal opportunity, endless career options, and the flexibility to serve the community as a Magistrate.
Graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 1995, Jade applied for a role as a Systems Engineer with British Aerospace (now BAE Systems). She was responsible for managing technical modifications to existing systems, such as Radar Control Display Panels, but quickly gravitated towards jobs involving more complex math and physics.
“I kept putting my hand up for more technical tasks, and was offered a role in the Electromagnetics Discipline. I was interested in working with the team that ensures electromagnetic fields of aircraft equipment didn’t interfere with each other.”
Jade then joined a team responsible for integrating antennas into aircraft designs by virtual test, creating and running computer based simulations, and physical testing of antenna sub-assemblies or mock-ups. Next, she undertook a series of roles in Electromagnetics Engineering, becoming a true generalist. After gaining technical skills, she decided to develop her leadership capabilities as Project Manager on the Corporate Engineering Council, based at BAE Systems Head Office from 2010-2013. In 2014, Jade returned to Electromagnetics as head of the discipline where she provides functional leadership of over 80 engineers.
The flexibility to give back to the community
Throughout her incredible career at BAE Systems, Jade has been volunteering as a Magistrate with the Lancashire bench since 2010.
“BAE Systems knows that flexible work is important for every lifestyle. It’s not just for working parents; the business values all employees’ commitments – whether they’re a carer, a community leader, or in my case, volunteering as a Magistrate.”
“BAE Systems provides 13 days of paid leave to support various roles serving the community. Once I’ve used my volunteer leave, I’m able to work extra hours from home to make up for my time on the bench. Flexible work allows me to enjoy variety and give back.”
Fighting for survival
In 2014, Jade’s career was flourishing when she was blindsided by some devastating personal news.
“From 2014 to 2018, I had multiple incidents of cancer. 2019 has been the first full year without treatment. I’ve learned that everybody has the ability to deal with more stress than we realize. When you have to draw on your strength, it’s there. I would survive one day, and then another. My career took a hit during those four years – but I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my workmates; they brought over shepherd’s pie and cross-words, they hoovered my house and walked my dogs. When I was ready to return to work, there was no pressure to come back full-time.”
To the great relief of her family, friends and colleagues, Jade has been recovering this year and only growing stronger.
Why Jade chooses BAE Systems
When we asked Jade why she’s still with BAE Systems after more than 20 years, she doesn’t hesitate.
“It’s an incredibly broad organization here – you can have a completely different career simply by moving office. I’ve worked on projects across submarines, procurement, maritime aircraft carriers… I’ve felt no need to leave BAE Systems to progress.”
Jade also emphasizes that the plethora of opportunities at BAE Systems are available to all people, regardless of who they are.
“BAE Systems is an equal opportunity employer – I’ve always had incredible opportunities here. This is massive for me. I’ve heard stories elsewhere in STEM-related industries where women say their experience has been very different to mine. I want women to know that at BAE Systems there’s nothing to stop you pursuing a career in engineering, including a specialism like Electromagnetics – there’s no barrier.”
Words of advice for emerging specialist engineers
Jade stresses that although she took a traditional path by studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering, her colleagues come from all walks of life.
“Electromagnetic Engineering is a specialist field, but it’s not necessary to have a specialized degree. Employees have very specific training to succeed within their role. There are so many routes to working at BAE Systems. My colleagues did graduate degrees, post-graduate degrees, apprenticeships, diplomas, had careers in the armed forces or came straight from other sectors – everyone took a different route. Here, you can harness your transferable skills and learn on the job.”
The flight path ahead
Since returning full-time in 2019, Jade has been focusing on giving the discipline members the skills and resources they need to excel, while also looking towards a future in leadership.
“I’ve reached the most senior position in the Electromagnetics Discipline in the Air Sector, but I have more in me. I’m actively creating a map for where I need to go in terms of capability or delivery-focused leadership. It’s really exciting. But right now, I’m really enjoying bringing people on and mentoring younger engineers – it’s satisfying paving the way for the next generation.”