“The role of an Integrated Logistics Support Manager caught my eye due to the variety of exciting and challenging roles I would be undertaking. It’s a job where you can really make a difference to the equipment that is delivered to the front line and that really appealed to me”
As an Integrated Logistics Support Manager in our Operational Delivery function, it’s Justyn’s job to help make sure the Royal Air Force has everything it needs to fly and maintain aircraft. We spoke to him to find out more about his role at Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), what skills his role requires and why Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) is such a rewarding career to embark upon.
If you’re interested in a career in Operational Delivery, check out our latest vacancies here.
Why did you choose to pursue an ILS career in DE&S? Where did your journey begin?
I had been in the Royal Air Force for 22 years, where I worked as an Aircraft Avionics Technician and went on to become a Chief Technician in the Engineering branch, before joining DE&S as an ILS Manager just over two years ago.
When I left the RAF, I was keen for a career change. The role of an ILS Manager at DE&S caught my eye due to the variety of exciting and challenging roles I would be undertaking. It’s a job where you can really make a difference to the equipment that is delivered to the front line, and as someone who was used to being on the receiving end of those deliveries, that really appealed to me.
This opportunity also appeared to combine the benefits of serving in the military, with the opportunity to be part of a fantastic civilian organisation, including a whole host of employment benefits and opportunities. There’s a fantastic sense of teamwork and camaraderie in DE&S – its functional approach brings everyone together to achieve a common goal.
What does your role entail?
As an ILS manager, no two days are the same.
Working collaboratively with technical specialists across DE&S, industry suppliers and the Armed Forces and using ILS methodologies, it’s my job to help plan and deliver cost effective and technologically cutting-edge equipment and support solutions for the Armed Forces.
This could mean designing a support solution from concept through to disposal, optimising equipment during its in-service phase, or supporting the efficient disposal of equipment at the end of its operational life. It might cover in-the-field support robust enough for the Army’s Apache helicopters, or the state-of-the-art maintenance required by the RAF’s latest Lightning II aircraft.
In my current project, we are procuring brand new state-of-the-art aircraft and, for the past 18 months, my primary role has been to develop and provide a wide-ranging support package that will allow these aircraft to be operated and maintained in a whole host of different environments, around the world.
As you can imagine, the support packages have to be fit-for-purpose and procured at the best possible price for the taxpayer. Everything has a cost and everyone will have an opinion on what they want, but it’s the role of the ILS manager to balance these requirements.
Why is your job important?
My role is important because we’re delivering essential support to the front line. We make sure they’ve got the right equipment, in the right place, at the right time. The mission they’re on and the environment they will encounter dictates the equipment they will need; from the Arctic to the desert or jungle. We’re in charge of everything, from concept through to disposal. Without the work we do in the background, our Armed Forces simply wouldn’t have equipment they need.
Is your role rewarding?
When you see the aircraft that you’ve been working on flying over your house or on the news, delivering medical aid, for example, it’s really rewarding. The Armed Forces have their capabilities because of something we’ve delivered and you know the equipment you’ve provided works and that you’ve actually played a role in saving lives.
Do you need extensive experience to become an ILS Manager?
My previous experience working on aircraft definitely helps me in my current role as ILS Manager for the Chinook Capability Sustainment Programme, but I’m confident that the in-house training I have received at DE&S would allow me to apply this knowledge to any programme across DE&S – from fighter jets, armoured vehicles, submarines and aircraft carriers, through to clothing and ammunition. No previous experience or formal ILS training is required because you have the support of your specialist teams and the extensive training opportunities provided by DE&S.
What makes DE&S a great place to work?
Working at DE&S for me is primarily about the people and the flexibility it offers. I get to work with a massive team of extremely professional people from all backgrounds and experience levels who, like me, simply want to do the right thing for the Front Line customer. The pandemic highlighted the need for flexibility in terms of location and working hours, and what DE&S has done to facilitate this has been first class, with excellent communication and leadership from above throughout. Even while working remotely I still feel part of the organisation and up-to-date on the corporate direction. Also, there’s the facilities – Abbey Wood is an amazing place to be based, with excellent amenities on-site including coffee shops, restaurants and fitness facilities. There’s even a hairdressers, but as you may guess, I haven’t visited that yet. It sounds cliché, but I really would struggle to find fault with the organisation, and absolutely love being part of the DE&S family.
What are the opportunities to develop and progress within your function?
As I arrived in the ILS role as an engineer with no formal ILS or ILS training, I was keen to read about DE&S’ 70:20:10 approach to learning and development. It’s broken down into three distinct yet complementary headings; ‘learning from doing’ (70%), ‘learning from others’ (20%) and ‘learning from formal training’ (10%). I have found the approach really suits my way of learning – it doesn’t just involve reading and regurgitating masses of literature.
The ‘learning from doing’ and ‘learning from others’ approach, along with the clear direction laid out in DE&S’s Policy and Guidance, gives you the confidence to be able to hit the ground running. As an ILS manager, I feel fully supported by the Operational Delivery function and wider support community within the organisation.
Applying the 70:20:10 approach enabled me to acquire my ILS Practitioner Certificate in the first 12 months of being in DE&S and gave me the confidence to lead and manage ILS activities within my team.
While I haven’t gone down the route of formal further education, DE&S runs several schemes throughout the year for all employees at all levels, where you can apply for a place on degree and masters-level courses. DE&S cares about your professional development and will support you with your training needs.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in your field?
Don’t be put off by the size of some the projects you see in the media.
When I joined the RAF, I didn’t think they’d be able to train me to become an aircraft technician. And when I joined DE&S, I had the same feeling that I was pushing myself to learn a lot.
Don’t think you can’t do the job. All the training is provided, and you’re not expected to dive in from day one. The role can seem quite daunting at first, but the rewards are worth it; a fulfilling career as part of a unified team that delivers first-class support to our front line personnel.