Adapt to Change
Guest post by Pawel Buczek, Mechanical Systems Sub-Section Manager at the Engineering Design Center (EDC), Warsaw
The first time I heard about the Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP), a special training program designed for fresh graduates by the GE Engineering Design Center (EDC) in Warsaw in Poland, I thought it would be a real challenge and I knew another opportunity like this might not come again soon. I became one of the three young engineers with whom the program started in 2006. Today, I am Sub-Section Manager in the aviation part of the Design Center where I lead a team of almost 40 engineers responsible for various engine lines.
When I joined the program in 2006, I had already been with the company for 2.5 years. As it was the first wave of applicants into the program, the company decided to take on people with some experience to start with. But the development program, named after GE founder Thomas Edison, is designed for fresh graduates to develop their technical problem-solving skills through advanced courses in engineering and technical projects which are aligned with business objectives.
The program assigns you to different engineering departments of the Design Center and is also filled with business courses that enable young people to get to know the GE culture better. I rotated through four different assignments in combustion, rotors, airfoils and bearings, learning everything from manufacturing support and analysis methods to program management on various hardware. Moreover, the program helps you to learn how to adapt to new situations or change, one of the ultimate leadership skills.
The most difficult part of the program for me was the homework in the A-Course (sharpening problem-solving and technical skills), especially the tasks in aerodynamics. I didn’t always feel so well about it, but that is when you feel the power of team work, when you’re at a blind corner and you can rely on your colleagues for help. At the same time, it is unbelievably empowering when you successfully make it through all 36 classes.
The B-Course (applying technical skills to actual business proposals), where we had more real-life problems to solve, was less painful and a more practical learning experience. Technical training sessions and job rotation provided me with a better understanding of how physics works in jet engines and how a jet engine works as a system. On the other hand, non-technical training practices gave me more business acumen and a better knowledge of the soft skills you need to work effectively in an organization like GE.
After the program, I worked team leader for a while and later I took up my position as Sub-Section Manager. Interestingly enough, I was hired for this position by my first manager for whom I worked during my first years in combustion as well. So the loop has closed and my initial anxiety about leaving my team turned out to be unnecessary. My experience in the Development Program has become a strong foundation for my career in aviation. And although it might be less obvious, the rotation through departments and the network you build during the program are extremely beneficial, too. It opens doors and allows you to consciously decide where you want to go next.