Head of Talent Acquisition, Airbus UK
It is the diversity of opportunity within the aerospace sector that has seen Jacqui Chan carve out a varied career path with the company over more than two decades.
When Jacqui left university with a chemical engineering degree, she never envisaged working for an aerospace company — more than 20 years on, she’s still enjoying a varied career with Airbus.
Key to that job satisfaction is working in an environment that offers the opportunity to change direction every so often. “I have the stability of having the same pay slip every month but knowing that my job description changes every few years,” says Jacqui, now 47.
Following her path
She is currently Head of Talent Acquisition (UK) with a senior recruitment role within Airbus (UK), but also has responsibilities over teams in France and Portugal and leads the company-wide project to deliver recruitment with a global HR services supplier.
Jacqui has enjoyed working with people from different walks of life throughout her career with a wide range of roles from steering executive meetings with the CEO through to delivering hands-on training for production teams.
Born in Scotland, the daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong and raised in Liverpool, she took temping jobs before securing a procurement role with the company’s graduate programme.
On experiencing different departments, she says: “I saw it as a place where you can follow a path that is set by the company — or carve your own path.”
That saw her set off for Beijing in product marketing before returning to HR, but she was soon seeking change and even considering looking outside the company. That was until the opportunity arose to join a multi-country project in Toulouse, having grown up bi-culturally her skills and ‘cultural sensitivity’ played a key role in her success.
I feel as though I have been working for a different company every three to four years because I change jobs.
Currently based in Bristol, Jacqui points to several ways into jobs with the company, alongside the graduate scheme, including apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships.
Emphasising there does not need to be a direct connection between a degree subject and career choice, she stresses that employers are increasingly looking at a person’s attributes as well as their qualifications.
When recruiting, such as for interns, her team is encouraged to look at the bottom of the CV and see what interests and transferable skills people also have.
Flexible skills and roles
A mother of two, it was a question posed by her daughter that made her realise why she stays with the company.
“I feel as though I have been working for a different company every three to four years because I change jobs,” she says. “The organisation is big enough for me to do that.”
“I have had multiple jobs, including working in Toulouse twice, but only one career — in Airbus — and that is key for me.
“If people want to be a super expert in a topic, there is room for that because we need such people. But if people want to broaden their skill set, we are also a large enough organisation for that.” And this, says Jacqui, is the big attraction of a career with her employer — and in the sector.