EBM Graduate 2010-2011
"Exciting, valuable and thoroughly rewarding"
We caught up with Zoe Chilton as she took a break from her work as Project and Communications Executive with Flybrid Automotive Limited, an award-winning engineering company based at Silverstone that pioneers innovative low carbon vehicle technology.
“I’ve been here for nine months now and I’m really enjoying it,” she said. “We’re a relatively small company so I get involved in lots of different areas, though my main focus at the moment is on marketing and communications, including PR, branding and events. One of the modules I studied during the MSc course was Strategic Marketing, and what I learned is definitely coming in useful right now. I also assist in managing a range of engineering projects, so I am certainly being kept busy!”
But Zoe hadn’t always planned to work at the forefront of engineering technology. In fact her first degree is in law, which she gained at the University of Leeds in 2010. She explained why she made the huge leap from law to engineering business management: “I found studying law interesting from an academic perspective, but I realised that it was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had always been interested in cars, motorsport and engineering, so I wondered whether there could be a career for me in that field – and perhaps an opportunity to bring the analytical skills I had developed during my law studies into engineering.”
Zoe looked into a number of MSc programmes and eventually chose WMG. “I found nothing else like it,” she said. “The broad range of subjects covered really appealed to me, plus the way it combines engineering and business elements into one cohesive whole. When you weight up the cost against the university’s reputation, it does offer very good value.”
Making things work in the real world
Joining WMG in 2010, Zoe found Warwick a completely different learning environment to that she had been used to. “It was so fresh, vibrant and energetic. It was also amazing to be part of such an international community, working with fellow students from right across the world. You make friends very quickly and soon feel part of the group.
“Of course, the programme itself is intensive – after all, there’s a lot to learn in just 12 months. You’re not just sitting in lectures though. So much of it is focused on things like team building, practical exercises and developing solutions that can be applied in industry. It’s less about dry theory and more about making things work in the real world.
Zoe’s dissertation subject was Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Motorsport. “The idea originally came from my Project Supervisor, Dr. Martyn Pinfold,” she explained. “He knew I had an interest in Formula 1 and told me that they had been waiting for the right person to come along and research this subject.
“It was an interesting area to look into. As you can imagine, motorsports businesses are very results-orientated, with the performance on the track their main goal and things like CSR can be seen as a distraction. So the first question is whether CSR has a place in the industry at all and if it does, what can it deliver? The project involved creating a definition of CSR which is relevant to the business model, assessing the relevance of CSR to motorsport and then devising a strategic approach for an F1 case study.
The point is that if you can prove CSR can bring real commercial benefits in this industry, you can prove the case for just about any industry.”
An amazing life experience
In 2013, Zoe was asked to present a paper based on her dissertation at the International Conference on Engineering Business Management in Bangkok. “It was hugely exciting,” she said. “Not just giving a presentation at such a prestigious global conference, but having the chance to visit Thailand. I travelled around the country while I was there and it was an incredible life experience.”
Soon after leaving WMG in 2011, Zoe secured a role as a Commercial Executive with the Motorsport Industry Association. The CEO of the Association was one of her research project interviewees and was obviously impressed so much by her approach that he offered her the job. “I do think the experience I had gained at WMG helped a lot,” she added. “Particularly the international aspect and the fact that I had worked with people from many different cultures. The confidence I had gained in understanding the needs and practices of engineering companies also contributed to me being offered the position.”
Zoe stayed with the Association for nearly two years before moving to her current employer, Flybrid Automotive Limited (since purchased by Torotrak PLC). “I did enjoy my time there. I was lucky enough to travel all around the word, take part in high-profile events and meet some amazing people. An industry trade association is a great place to learn about the sector, but it was time for me to take my experience to a more hands-on role with an engineering business.
“What I learned at WMG is helping me enormously in many areas of my work. Project management is key, but also the technical subjects are invaluable when I’m dealing with suppliers or working with engineers. You have to know what you’re talking about!”
Zoe hasn’t left WMG behind entirely. She returns regularly as a guest lecturer in Corporate Social Responsibility on the MSc Strategic Management Module. We ended by asking her if there was one piece of advice she would give to prospective students.
“Immerse yourself in the Warwick culture,” she answered. “Talk to people, get to know them and learn from their unique experiences and viewpoints. There are many extra-curricular activities too. I was a trampolining coach for example. There’s lots to do and getting involved makes your year at WMG exciting, valuable and thoroughly rewarding.
Update March 2016
February 2014: Zoe was promoted to Marketing & Communications Manager at Torotrak PLC where she was responsible for the strategic management of company communications plus stakeholder and customer relations. She represented the company at large events and conferences and actively supported business development as well as undertaking market research and analysis to further engage in sales activities.
August 2015: Zoe left Torotrak PLC to undertake a new position as Senior Partnership Manager (Technical Partnerships) with Red Bull Racing & Red Bull Technology. Working at Red Bull, Zoe is Account Manager for a range of innovation partners to deliver optimum value for the Red Bull racing team and their partners.
Zoe still continues her work as a guest lecturer in Corporate Social Responsibility at WMG, sharing with our current students, both her academic knowledge and wealth of industry experience that she continues to grow since her time as a student at WMG.