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The nuclear option...

I’m finance manager for “Astute batch one” – a project that covers the first three of seven new nuclear-powered Astute-class submarines that BAE Systems is building for the Royal Navy.

I joined BAE Systems from university as part of the company’s five-year finance leaders development programme. The first three years was all about getting experience and becoming CIMA qualified – a process I completed in 2006. The final two years involved taking on a more challenging finance role within the company.

I then came to the company’s Submarine Solutions division in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, and have been working on the Astute Programme since 2008.

The first of the new submarines has already been handed over to the navy, while the second is nearing completion. The third, fourth and fifth are under construction. In the past couple of years, I have been working with the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) to help to ensure that we can deliver the seven submarines within budget.

I also spend time working with the various project teams and individual cost account managers within the division to understand how they are performing against their budgets. And we work closely with our supply chain to ensure that suppliers’ costs fall within the MoD’s budget.

The contract for the three submarines that comprise the Astute batch is more than £3bn. Once the seven submarines in this programme have been delivered, we can look forward to the next project, which is the replacement of the navy’s Vanguard class of submarines, which carry the nuclear deterrent.

Completing the CIMA qualification has given me the ability to understand what’s going on behind the numbers. The majority of our time is not spent on traditional accounting; that’s just a small part of the job. Our main focus is looking at past and future financial performance, and how this fits into the broader business objectives.

My advice for today’s CIMA students? Be prepared to be mobile in your career in order to find the best roles to further your development. Exciting opportunities, such as this one, are out there – but you’ve got to take the initiative to find them.


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