Chris Houston

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Head of Programmes, Pattonair

During the final year of his programme at Lancaster, Chris looked back at what he learnt from his placement year with Rolls-Royce, who subsequently recruited him to a full-time post.

The last twenty years have undoubtedly seen a shift in further education away from courses based strictly on theory to those that encompass vocational elements, too. It was this very opportunity, a third-year work placement, which attracted me to the BBA Management degree at Lancaster – a choice that I am pleased to say I have never regretted.

For my placement I worked as a buyer at Rolls-Royce plc. Some of my main responsibilities were to negotiate with suppliers, solve immediate supply issues and select strategic partners to work with. Our objective was to deliver a world-class supply chain that ensured Rolls-Royce met customers’ strategic requirements in terms of quality, cost and delivery.

In meeting this objective I had the opportunity to work with an incredible team of people and take on considerable amounts of responsibility. I negotiated with suppliers from around the globe, most notably major suppliers in both South Africa and North America. Increasingly I was given opportunities to represent my team at a senior level within the company and I presented to the heads of purchasing for the UK, Germany, Asia, and America.

Perhaps my greatest personal learning came from the manner in which Rolls-Royce engages with its supply chain. I would argue that the transparent and collaborative approach that Rolls-Royce take in the management of both first- and second-tier suppliers is truly world-class and that it taught me some invaluable lessons about how to manage a global supply network.

I hope that in the future I will have the opportunity to put these experiences to good use. Having secured a role on the graduate purchasing scheme at Rolls-Royce, I am looking forward to building on this understanding when I recommence work in September. The experience has helped tremendously in my final year of study, and the mentality and skills it has provided me with will be a formidable asset for the future.


Chris later took on a new role as Head of Programmes with Pattonair, based in Derby.