Steve Simplay

Achieving Chartered Engineer status in his twenties, and now with a PhD under his belt, Steve is currently working towards becoming an IET Fellow and giving back to the engineering community.

Image of Steve Simplay CEng

“Achieving CEng, and understanding how CEng accreditation can help others, is a true career highlight.”


Dr Steve Simplay CEng is responsible for Automotive Strategy at Tata Technologies. He maps out the future of the company in this sector, making sure the business is aware of emerging technologies and what is happening in other markets and economies.

A ten-year career plan

Steve got to where he is today by following the detailed ten year career plan he developed as an undergraduate student at Coventry University. This began with a three-year aerospace systems engineering bachelor’s degree followed by a further one-year master’s degree in engineering and manufacturing management.

“This enabled me to expand my breadth and depth of knowledge into the management side of things,” he explains. “My career plan was to undertake a PhD – this is something I’d always wanted to do. In terms of getting there I had a map of milestones I needed to meet in order to achieve this. I knew it began with a three-year university course, then an MSc. From there I needed to work for some large organisations in order to gain real-world experience before working on my PhD.”

Time in industry

And so, after completing his master’s degree, Steve spent several years working in industry for companies including Toyota, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover. Through these automotive engineering roles he had the opportunity to work overseas in Germany and Japan, enabling him to gain experience and achieve the competencies necessary to apply for his next career milestone – professional registration.

“I wanted to apply for professional accreditation and so in 2004 I became a member of the IET,” he says. “I chose this organisation over the other governing bodies as it was more focused on the automotive and manufacturing areas.”

Achieving Chartered Engineer status

Demonstrating his knowledge and capabilities through the workplace and also by becoming an active IET volunteer, Steve applied for Chartered Engineer (CEng) status, which he was awarded while still in his twenties, something he is exceptionally proud of.

“Achieving CEng, and understanding how CEng accreditation can help others, is a true career highlight,” he enthuses.

After gaining CEng Steve knew he was ready to begin work on his ultimate career plan goal – a PhD in strategy.

“It’s one of the most prestigious and highest degrees any university can award,” he explains. “I knew my ten-year career path merged academic and practical experience and the next step was to start my PhD. So I took a few years out of industry to work on my PhD, which focused on outsourcing and offshoring of product design and development within the automotive industry.”

Future career goals

Steve completed his PhD in just three years, which is a rare feat indeed, and he feels this is his biggest career achievement to date. But he’s not one to rest on his laurels, and as well as starting his current role he’s writing an article for the Harvard Business Review to provide some insights from his PhD. Having completed his ten-year career plan, he’s also begun to look at some future objectives.

“I’ve started my application for Fellowship and I want to contribute something back to the wider engineering community so we’ve started work on developing a CEng programme at Tata Technologies,” Steve says. “We have developed a four year graduate scheme and upon successful development I expect all will apply for professional CEng registration. We are also investing in other employees who can apply for CEng registration.

I’ve worked closely with our HR department on this, helping them develop a curriculum that ensures we have good quality, well-rounded and well-trained engineers. I’m also looking to continue volunteering and returning to my volunteer role as a CEng interview assessor for the IET,” he adds.

“That aside, I’m currently thinking on my personal career plan for the next five years. I plan to stay within the organisation and I hope to grow the business, and take on more strategic responsibilities,” he concludes.