On Tuesday morning we were pleased to welcome the Director of Tata Europe to Heart of England when he addressed a group of Year 9 and 10 Technology students and Year 12 and 13 Business students.
Dr David Landsman OBE began by giving a brief overview of Tata and the products and business they own which includes Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors, Tata Steel, TCS Consulting and Tetley Tea. Tata is celebrating 150 years of business this year and employs over 700,000 people worldwide with 65,000 in the UK.
Talking to the students about the future, Dr Landsman said that no one knows what will happen and although you can’t always plan, it is possible to see trends and the general direction we are going in. “Mobiles, smartcards and driverless cars didn’t exist when I was your age,” he said. “and the important thing is to be creative.”
The world of engineering is wide and varied and includes many products and services which affect our daily lives. There were obvious things like cars and roads and steel frameworks for buildings but also medical equipment, scanners and software.
The students made contributions to the talk when Dr Landsman asked questions. He was engaging and responsive to the audience. They offered thoughts on how products could be made better: make them faster or eco-friendlier or make them more recyclable.
Commenting on the importance of humans in an increasingly automated world, Dr Landsman suggested that the most important component of engineering was people. “People use machines and people can be creative and collaborative in a way that machines can’t be,” he said. If one thinks about a car, its purpose is to get people from one place to another – it is not simply about the product itself.
On the future of jobs, Dr Landsman asked, “As automation takes over, what’s left for us? Well, the things that only humans can do: creating design, having the ideas and pushing the boundaries.” He also added that the real jobs of the future are the ones dealing with people, those selling and those understanding the human dynamic.”
There were two priorities for us now, he suggested. The first is maths because it is the key to business and to understanding machines and the second is empathy, to understand people, for working in teams and for human engagement. “Understanding these two things will prepare you for the future,” concluded Dr Landsman.
After the main presentation, students asked questions on a variety of topics which included questions about the steel business, how leaving he EU will impact us, the gender pay gap issue and which skills he looked for in people in the future. “Creativity, collaboration of different disciplines and open-mindedness are what I look for.”
Business teacher Lucy Hopkins said: “It was very informative and has sparked interest and discussion with my Sixth Form students.”