Introduction from Matthew Bowden, Director at Red Penguin Marine

For the past three years Red Penguin Marine have collaborated with UK universities to offer under-graduates a year out in industry. The under-graduates we engage with undertake a sandwich year; essentially stopping their degree for a year to work in the subsea cable sector. During this time, they are fully submerged into the business and given the opportunity to learn from every Penguin, including the board, gaining invaluable experience and connections. They have attended actual and virtual conferences taking the opportunity to present on youth, diversity, and inclusion during both the Submarine Networks EMEA and European Subsea Cable Association (ESCA) plenary.  They are also provided the chance to work on and lead real world projects with clients, supported by our subsea cable engineers, surveyors and maritime experts.  Red Penguin view this placement as an important contribution to their broader education, and importantly an avenue to expand the awareness of submarine cables and the subsea sector as a whole; we also learn quite a lot from each of our under-graduates!!

My Year in Industry

By Eleanor Skinner

As part of my degree in Marine Biology at the University of Portsmouth, I had the opportunity to participate in a year in industry. Red Penguin immediately caught my eye due to the range of experience they were prepared to offer me throughout the year. As an undergraduate, this was such a valuable opportunity to gain professional experience in industry across domains including Operations, Projects, Commercial, Finance, Marketing, HR and QHSE. I applied for the position and went through a two-stage interview process after which I was fortunate enough to be selected for the role.

My knowledge of the subsea cable industry prior to starting with Red Penguin was extremely limited. I may have been particularly naïve, thinking the majority of telecommunications data came via satellites and not the widespread network of subsea telecoms cables that I now know exist today. I was also unaware of the large interconnector cables connecting Europe and allowing green energy to be shared contributing to net zero targets. I can safely say this is no longer the case, having been exposed to multiple conferences and learning from my colleagues, who are always keen to pass on their experience and knowledge. I have been struck by firstly, how vast and busy the industry is, and secondly, how critical this infrastructure is.

Red Penguin certainly took me out of my comfort zone in the best way possible and whilst supporting me through varied roles. During my time I was involved with project management, engaging with clients, cable repair projects and more recently, cable decommissioning where I have gained skills with Geographic Information Systems and formal report writing. I was also fortunate enough to visit a vessel, the MV REBECCA at the Marine Depo in Portland. I was also encouraged to speak at a European Subsea Cable Association (ESCA) plenary conference which was a real privilege.

During education, (particularly in science), you are presented with a right or wrong answer accompanied with precision and textbook learning. Some of my greatest takeaways are the on-the-job learning, the requirement to be adaptable, knowing where the risks lie, how human error can occur and at what points these challenges present themselves. Learning to engage with people and their different personalities is a fundamental skill to carry forward to future endeavors; behind most technical problems there are social and societal problems as well. In addition, Red Penguin has also taught me to manage a constant change in priorities, making me adaptable to the requirements of any given task(s).

Having now reached the end of my time with Red Penguin, I will return to university in September to complete my final year. With my eyes now wide open to the broad spectrum of career paths available in the marine industry, I am excited about where my career will take me safe in knowledge there is support in the industry for young professionals.

I would highly recommend undertaking a year in industry. Red Penguin has given me experience that I would never have learned through the education system. Although my peers at university will graduate a year before me, I believe I have gained essential skills that will be highly sought after by an employer, making me more employable. Red Penguin have been extremely supportive, pushed me and tested me and I truly believe I have made lifelong contacts/friends.

Red Penguin Statement:

At Red Penguin we firmly believe in planning for the future and see investment in youth as a key component of that strategy.  Our industry sector is not a natural career path for people seeking opportunities after education and needs to invest in youth to secure its future workforce.  Therefore, we are proud to promote the subsea cable sector and provide students and graduates with skills that will serve them well whatever avenue they chose to follow.  Ellie has contributed hugely to Red Penguin; we are sad to see her go and wish her luck in her final year and will certainly keep in touch!  In the meantime, we welcome our new under-graduate, Rupert, a Mechanical Engineering student from Nottingham University who joins us shortly for the 2021-22 academic year.

To find out more about Red Penguin click here.