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Dave Davis

Dave started out as an engineering apprentice in the British Army during the late ‘80s.

He progressed to become a satellite instructor at the Royal School of Signals and joined the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) and the Institution of Incorporated Engineers, which later merged to form the IET.

In 2002, after six years of combining work and studying, he was awarded a first-class honours degree in Electronic Engineering from the Open University.

The following year, Dave left the Army and joined Bistech Group as Project Manager. He then moved to NSSLGlobal, where he became a Chartered Telecommunications Engineer and worked his way up to Project Support Engineering Manager.

In 2013 he joined his current employer, ST Engineering iDirect, where as Technical Director he provides engineering leadership to international government and defence activities and key accounts.

Encouraging future engineers

Dave took the first step on his volunteer journey around 20 years ago while working at the Royal School of Signals. “I got involved in schools liaison for the IEE because I really wanted to encourage the next generation of engineers,” he said.

“Attending careers fairs was an eye-opener. It made me recognise how much parents and teachers can influence and block young people’s career choices at a very early stage:

‘Oh you don’t want to do engineering; you don’t want to get your hands dirty.’ I was almost horrified to see students being rushed past my stand, not giving engineering a moment’s consideration. It had quite an impact on me.”

Networking with fellow engineers

A few years later Dave started attending lectures and networking events hosted by the IET Surrey Local Network. He then accepted an invitation to join the Committee, to help organise lectures.

“We managed to get some great speakers, like the Technical Director at Jaguar Racing and the Lead Test Pilot at Virgin Galactic,” he said. “I also did a couple of presentations myself on satellite communication engineering.”

Dave joined the IET Satellite Technical Network (TN) in 2017 and quickly got involved in the Executive Committee.

He was elected Vice-Chair a short while later and went on to become Chair, a role he performed successfully for two years.

For many years he was heavily involved in organising the TN’s annual military satellite communications conference – his field of specialist expertise. He continues to provide valuable input but has deliberately stepped back, to let others take the reins:

“I set up a true steering committee of around nine people with different voices and perspectives. That gives us a much broader input in terms of content and core speakers.

“The conference used to be a two-day physical event, but during lockdown we changed it to a virtual event. In 2022, based on survey feedback, we’re going to be doing a hybrid event”

Dave is an active member of the TN’s Technical Advisory Panel. He also delivers the basic overview and military satellite communications element for the IET Satellite Systems course.

Supporting professional development

While working at NSSLGlobal, Dave got his employer involved in the IET’s Corporate Partnership Scheme, which supports organisations that are committed to their employees' professional development and registration.

He became an IET Mentor in 2014 and has been supporting members ever since in this role.

Over time he became more involved, more confident and more competent with the UK spec and in 2020 he became a Professional Registration Advisor (PRA), to help get people ready to submit their application.

“Candidates have to present themselves in the most positive light in their application,” he said.

“Part of the PRA’s role involves teasing out skills and values that they haven’t necessarily put down on paper but need to demonstrate in order to achieve Professional Registration. It’s quite an iterative process.

“Having been an apprentice, then gaining professional recognition as an Engineering Technician, Incorporated Engineer and Chartered Engineer, I have a very good understanding of what’s required at the different levels.

If a candidate is not yet ready for Chartered Engineer, I often suggest that they might like to apply for Engineering Technician or Incorporated Engineer first.”

More recently, Dave has become a Pre- and Post-PRI [Professional Review Interview] Assessor: “When I receive an application, I go through it in detail.

I look at the person’s education, background and development action plan to assess whether they are at the right level to be put forward for interview.

“The post-PRI assessment is more about checks and balances. Was the correct process followed, including the interview itself? Did the applicant receive appropriate support throughout? I usually receive the documents in batches of six or seven.”

Becoming an IET Fellow

Dave was delighted to become an IET Fellow in 2017. He takes his obligations very seriously:  “Fellowship was a massive achievement, mainly because of the calibre of the Fellows I’ve looked up to during my career.

I am very proud and honoured, but the status comes with a sense of responsibility because I now have to exemplify what it means to be a Fellow.

“For me, that’s about facilitating others and opening up new opportunities for them; identifying and nurturing talent; encouraging them to believe in themselves and what they are capable of; challenging perceptions and stereotypes; and making sure there’s a support structure available for everyone.”

When asked how to get the most out of being an IET member, Dave replied: “You could just sit back, pay your subscription and get your magazine.

But to get real value from your IET membership, you need to get involved. I really enjoy networking, meeting new people and finding out new information.

“The IET has put a framework in to support its volunteers. That includes bringing in new ideas and challenging the status quo.

In my experience, volunteering breeds more volunteering. Because the more you commit, support and help, the more information, learning and benefit you’ll gain from it.

“There’s no such thing as an altruistic act; you always get something out of it.”