From education to employment

How an apprenticeship led to my perfect role

Lisa Bingley, Operations Director for the MIRA Technology Institute (MTI)

It’s National Apprenticeship Week, and this year’s theme is #LookBeyond 

Here, Lisa Bingley, Operations Director for the MIRA Technology Institute (MTI), talks about how a simple work experience placement and subsequent engineering apprenticeship allowed her to look beyond the traditional route to work to find her perfect role:

Becoming ‘hooked’

I really struggled at school and was deemed not to be academic because I didn’t do very well in exams. I found myself failing repeatedly – so chose practical A Levels in design technology and geography where I seemed to do much better. When I was 17, I was advised to try a Youth Training Scheme and spent a week working with British Airways at Heathrow, which was close to my home in Windsor. I absolutely loved crawling about in the engine of a jumbo jet and – by the end of the week – was hooked on engineering. I diligently applied for jobs as an apprentice but failed to get anywhere with BA.

I then wrote more than 40 letters to businesses within the local area – from which I secured two interviews and one job! This was with Ivertech, a precision engineering company that worked with magnesium die-casting. I became an apprentice there and learnt skills in machining, before progressing to become a toolmaker, CNC operator and, eventually, a CNC programmer. I went on to secure a technical apprenticeship with the same company and then became a design engineer.

Finding the answer

Ivertech were downsizing so I took advantage of a redundancy package to buy the books I needed to go to university. I decided it was time I went back to the classroom to gain the qualifications I was missing.

After my first year studying engineering at Brunel University with a work placement at Daewoo, I was taken aback when they told me that I had failed some of my first-year exams, putting my place on the company’s graduate development scheme at risk. I shall be forever grateful to a colleague who suspected that my difficulties stemmed from undiagnosed dyslexia. She recommended that I took a test and, when the results came back, I realised why I had been struggling with academic work all those years.

Change for the better

Once my dyslexia had been diagnosed, everything changed for the better.

I got such a lot of support and help with literacy, was given a PC and was allowed to re-take my exams. They even discounted my first-year results, enabling me to achieve a 2:1 in my degree.

I went on to work for HORIBA MIRA for nearly 20 years in a range of roles, including safety engineer and project manager. I have always been passionate about influencing the next generation of engineers and that’s why my current role at the MTI is so perfect.

Every day, I am working with students and delegates who are taking advantage of the world-class facilities here to improve their career chances within automotive engineering. I will never forget the opportunities afforded to me by that first apprenticeship and how it all started with a simple work experience placement.

Lisa Bingley, Operations Director for the MIRA Technology Institute (MTI)

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