Jen Hearne

Head of Projects

From carrier command to electric vehicles

It is fair to say that Head of Projects, Jennifer Hearne’s career has put her on the crest of a wave.

Jennifer joined Hyperdrive from BAE Systems, where she helped to manufacture the first of the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers – the most significant British shipbuilding project of recent years.

Jennifer graduated in business and gained an MA in International Management from Heriot-Watt University prior to joining BVT Surface Fleet, and then BAE Surface Ships. She subsequently also worked for engineering services firm WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff as a project manager.

Now, at Hyperdrive, she has developed her project management skills on cutting-edge automotive electrification projects, working with state-of-the-art technologies and engineering teams.

She enjoys the hands-on approach, which contrasts with working for BAE Systems, one of the country’s biggest defence companies.

The automotive industry poses different challenges, Jennifer points out, including the speed of development and manufacturing.

“You can work on some marine projects for your entire career, because of the length of time it takes to design and manufacture components for a ship – and the length of time they are in service. There is more urgency at Hyperdrive.”

“What skills do project managers need? You need to be good with people, you have to deliver a plan, and you need to be able to manage risk. In fact, as well as managing time and being able to deliver reports that demonstrate progress, you really do need to be a people person. “

She says she was ignorant about manufacturing industry as a youngster, although she hopes this is now changing with the plethora of STEM initiatives aimed at schoolchildren.

“I didn’t know where engineering could take you, but it leads you down lots of exciting avenues. I remember being 22 and in the shipyard. There were very few women: they either worked in the supply chain or in HR. It wasn’t glamorous, and sometimes you were heckled: you needed to have broad shoulders.

“I am big believer in working for the long-term and not for a quick buck.
You can discover loads of new things via engineering, so for me it’s an
ideal industry to be in. It’s got far more potential than going into the City,
for example.”