Name: Dr Nkaepe Olaniyi
Job Title: Divisional Manager, Professional Engineering Wing, Royal School of Military Engineering
Organisation: MKC Training
Number of years in current position: One month
Qualifications: BEng (Hons), PhD, PGCert Learning and Teaching (HE)
Briefly describe the organisation you work for. The Royal School of Military Engineering is a military training organisation who also deliver engineering degree programmes (BEng and MSc) via the Professional Engineering Wing. My employer (MKC Training) is a private firm who work with the military in delivering these degrees to soldiers (BEng) and officers (MSc).
Explain what you do on an average day at work. I oversee all the civilian lecturers in the Professional Engineering Wing, ensuring that they can deliver relevant and current materials to all our students. I also work with my military counterpart to ensure the programmes are of the right academic standard so that the students can be assured of a good degree whilst they are in the military, as well as after they leave the military.
What do you like most about your job? I really enjoy the variety. I get to work with military personnel and other academics. I also love the fact that we are offering opportunities to our military personnel to get a degree, particularly as there a quite a number of them who left school without qualifications. It’s never too late to learn.
What stimulated your interest in maths, and when? I got into maths whilst at primary school. One of my teachers was so upset that we’d all failed a test and he pleaded with us to be more receptive to the content. That made me upset too, so I resolved to make more of an effort in the class and I just seem to take to it after that. Haven’t looked back since.
What influenced your career choice? I really enjoyed physics in high school and wanted to take on a degree with a good balance between maths and physics. All the other engineering disciplines seemed more physics inclined. So, I decided to go with Electrical and Electronics Engineering, which also opened me up to the world of Computing.
Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job? Being a people-person. I’m not an extrovert but I enjoy helping people. I think that’s one of the main reasons I ended up in academia – I am a teacher at heart. I truly enjoy being able to help people get the best out of their abilities, skills and experiences, and become a lifelong learner.
Tell us about your previous career – what prompted you to change direction? What advice would you give to people who are considering changing careers? I decided that the typical Engineering role wasn’t for me, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next after my PhD. So, I worked in recruitment (as a consultant and then a manager), and in finance (as an analyst). During both roles, I did take on tutoring jobs (A-level students and 1st year degree students). I then decided that teaching was really what I wanted to do – very much a calling. I then found a part-time teaching role and completed my PGCert in Learning and Teaching (Higher Education) to help me progress in my new role. So, my advice to you is to be open to possibilities along the way and don’t be afraid of change.
Any advice you may have for other individuals considering your career path? Being an engineer and a teacher is not necessarily something that you decide to do a young age. So just ensure you stick with what you enjoy and be open to possibilities along the way. Change can be challenging but it can also an adventure waiting for you to just say “yes”.
Your future career plans? Keep doing what I’m doing, no matter where it takes me.