From education to employment

National Apprenticeship Week: The career advice Siemens plc CEO Carl Ennis would give his 16 year old self

Siemens plc CEO Carl Ennis

Coinciding with National Apprenticeship Week (#NAW21), Carl Ennis (@CarlEnnis1968), passionate engineer and CEO of @Siemens plc, has published a letter to his 16 year old self with career advice. He set out into the world of work at that age on his first apprenticeship and is now Chief Executive of Siemens plc and Siemens Smart Infrastructure.

Keeping an open mind: the career advice I’d give to my 16-year-old self

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week (8-14 February), here’s the career advice I would have given my 16-year-old self, as I set out into the world of work on my first apprenticeship. 

Dear Carl…

You might think you want to be a car mechanic, but I have some news for you. You’ve just received your O Levels and are on the brink of your first major career decision; stay in education or train to be a mechanic. You know what, I think you made the right call, even it did take some serious hard work, long evenings studying, day release, but when have you ever been one to take the straightforward path?

Believe me when I say that when you reach the level of Chief Engineer by the age of 25 at GEC, all the days of tinkering with old cars and being thoroughly fascinated with how things work will be well worth it. Although school isn’t your cup of tea now at 16, you’ll come to realise that hard work and graft will only open more and more doors, both academically and practically.

Don’t worry about dad not liking the decision to do an apprenticeship, rather than following an academic path. You can trust me when I say that when you show him your business card from GEC, he’ll come round. You’re a quiet lad, but don’t forget to speak-up, trust your heart, but also be patient. The important thing is following a course that’s right for you, but I’m confident this pans out alright in the end.

Stay interested in the world around you and keep enjoying whatever you do. You’ve got plenty of time to work so try and get out of bed each morning and like what you do. It’s one long journey made up of lot of little sprints so save your energy for when it matters and go into all of the roles you’re going to come across with enthusiasm.

You’ll make some bad decisions over the years but each of them will push you closer to what you want and what you’re good at. Please, whatever you do, don’t dwell on your regrets. You’ll see over the years that regrets are pointless. If you’re not happy with something, you have to change it as life is too short to be miserable in what you’re doing. You have a wealth of career paths, choices and outcomes ahead of you so don’t think it’s about getting your head down for the next 40 years in one role.

The world has changed considerably in the last 12 months and I won’t even try and predict what the next 12 will bring. But that’s the trick – be open-minded, open to change and ultimately open to new ideas and opportunities. Just know that you’re not going to make a living from the violin so stick to engineering young man.

More about Carl Ennis

Carl has worked in the power industry for more than 35 years. He is an engineer first, with a real passion for the breadth of the discipline.  Having started his career as an apprentice, he is a keen advocate of the skills and diversity agendas, recognising the need for new and diverse thinking in ever-changing markets.

He joined Siemens as General Manager for Industrial Projects and Systems in 1997. After three years, he left to become MD of Weir Valves and Controls before returning to Siemens in 2004 to manage their Transmission and Distribution’s service business. He was responsible for the power generation service business in Newcastle until 2011, and then spent over three years in Shanghai where he was responsible for that business in Asia Pacific. On his return to the UK he was appointed MD of the Power divisions in the UK & Ireland, and then of the Energy Management division in 2016. He is a Chartered Engineer, a fellow of the IET, sits on the President’s Committee of the CBI, and is a Visiting Professor of Practice at Newcastle University.

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