What is your role in NATS?

I am currently working as a consultant focused on New Airspace Users (NAU) within the Commercial, Customer Solutions & Delivery team.

What does that mean?

I am one of the subject matter experts for nearly all things relating to New Airspace Users and technical lead and solution owner for our involvement in the Future Flight Challenge. That includes things like electric air taxis and drones. It’s important for NATS to understand how those things are going to impact our current operations and where there are opportunities to support their development.

We want to enable the safe and efficient integration of these new users into our airspace, so it’s a very exciting area of the business to be working in and I feel very privileged to be part of it.

No two days are the same, and with more and more organisations getting involved, safely and efficiently integrating these users into our airspace puts us at the core of what will be a massive part of the future of aviation.

Almost all of these vehicles are electric too, so it’s also part of the journey towards a more sustainable future for aviation.

Tharaka at the Future Flight Challenge Phase 2

Tell us about how you used to get involved in the Graduate and Placement recruitment

During my previous role at NATS as a Senior Research Analyst, I led the recruitment process for our Graduate and Industrial Placement schemes for a couple of years. This meant working with the NATS Early Careers team, going along to university open days representing NATS and then sifting through applications and interviewing candidates.

This was a really fun, exciting and fulfilling activity, working with lots of people across the business and meeting so many talented, interesting candidates. It also took me back to my university days (which I like to think was not that long ago!)


Tharaka at Brunel careers fair in 2019

What can a commercial Graduate or Placement student expect to get involved with?

We have always tried to give people the chance to get as involved in as much commercial activity as possible and provide a real breadth of opportunity and experience and to see what commercial acumen they have.

That can include working on a commercial bid for a project in the UK or somewhere else around the world, meeting with customers to help shape a new product or service offering, reviewing an investment business case or doing some market research on a new technology.

In my particular area that might include getting involved in designing new concepts or solutions for New Airspace Users or representing NATS in major cross industry workshops trialling the latest air taxi technology.

Do you have any hints and tips for applying ?

Think about what you want to get out of the placement – not just ‘gaining experience’ and doing an IP placement and/or Graduate course, but specific skills you want that could help better position you for the career path you want to go down. NATS has numerous departments and all which require different skills – so having a rough idea of the route you want to take and how that would be beneficial for both yourself and the company.

Do your research on NATS. This is a big one, but you’d be amazed how often people don’t. You don’t need to know every single detail but high-level knowledge of the company values and strategy, plus the type of projects and solutions we provide would be beneficial, particularly if wanting to go down a more technical route.

Don’t be scared – everyone at NATS is friendly and willing to help and wants you to succeed. Even if you are not successful don’t be disheartened, going through the process and putting the lessons learnt in to practice is also hugely valuable.

Why you would recommend working at NATS ?

The projects and bids we contribute to in commercial are really interesting – whether it’s to do with airports, airspace, new airspace users, technology or products. Working in the commercial part of the business also provides the fast paced environment that suits me as it keeps me on my toes.

For me the best thing about working at NATS are the people – particularly in the realm of new airspace users. The team is great and is always on hand to support, whether it’s the core delivery team or other people across the business. We learn together, hit brick walls together, break them down together and succeed together.

Interested in applying for one of our Industrial Placements or Graduate Schemes? You can do so by visiting our dedicated Early Careers page.


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