Real Voices: Ed Rogers

A graduate programme doesn’t necessarily mean the moment you graduate

I’d never looked for a career in the automotive sector. I was in an IT function, so to some degree it was IT wherever you go. But I just fell into the role really, having moved to Essex with my partner and looking at different jobs, we thought that we would go and work in London because it was a nice commutable distance.

My next-door neighbour, Dan, said Ford have just opened their graduate programme for the year and did I want to apply for that? I was doing a long commute at the time and wanted a change, but I’d graduated years ago, my thought was “are they really going to want me for that”? Luckily, they did. All they wanted was someone that has a degree, not someone who had just graduated. And I think that was the first thing that I had to get through my head; that a graduate programme doesn’t necessarily mean the moment you graduate.

My neighbour was working for Ford as well, as an engineer at Dunton working in some of the test labs. So that was great, I was exposed to a wide variety of people within the company through his connections, and it also meant I could go and have a look at the test labs. I found myself just going and exploring to see what other people did. And the nice thing about being on the graduate programme is that it afforded me that time. I wasn’t constantly having to do stuff.

Now, I look after the cyber security for all the connected mobility applications within vehicles. The main security aspect is the connection; the fact that you can unlock your car with your phone, you can activate various features and you can do things like pre warming the seats…so that’s kind of where my focus sits.

Shortly after I joined Ford, I signed up to our LGBT network called Ford Globe, as it was at the time, now Ford Pride. Soon after there was a call for committee members, they needed more people to come in and help, so I did that. I ended up being one of the chairs of the network. Then, around about 2018 I think it was, I was chatting with some of the colleagues at Jaguar Land Rover and they said they haven’t had a pride network since they were part of Ford and they would really like to start one up again. We had a couple of conversations, shared loads of documents and through those conversations we agreed that they can’t be the only company that is struggling, especially in the automotive sector.

And so, I had the conversation with several other LGBT+ networks about forming a support group. I sent out some emails to some people, the Diversity Manager here at Ford helped me connect with some of her colleagues at other automotive groups. At the first call we had, I think, 11 companies. They all loved the idea and thought it was brilliant.

It became this fantastic group of people all with a similar objective, all at different stages of their diversity journey as well. Everyone brings something to the table, from the biggest OEMs through to the smallest little dealer network that maybe only has five or six employees; we’re able to support all different levels. Individuals as well are now part of it, they all want to come together and support each other and not constantly, if you excuse the pun, reinvent the wheel.

Ed’s words of wisdom

“Everyone brings something to the table; we’re able to support all different levels.”