Alumnus Nick Lane’s journey: From a passion for science to a global role
Nick Lane, head of business development at Able Systems, graduated in 1982 with a HND in electrical and electronic engineering. Here, he explains his career journey to date.
Ever since I was young I have been interested in science and technology, especially growing up in the sixties when space travel was making great advances. My interest in engineering stemmed from school where I had a teacher that really made science fun; he was a big inspiration. I’ve always been fascinated by how things work and as a young boy I would always take things apart and put them back together, and as I grew up, this passion remained.
My course in electrical and electronic engineering at the University of Portsmouth helped realise this passion. Alongside the day-to-day learning, it included a work placement, which was absolutely priceless in helping me with my career. By giving me on-the-ground experience, Ferranti, which I agreed to work for, also sponsored me to get through the course, which was really helpful.
Once I graduated, I returned to Ferranti as an engineer. Here, I helped develop systems for the Royal Navy as an engineer, which included managing projects for systems used for the likes of submarines - it was fascinating and a great start to my working life.
After several years, I left my role as I wanted to move into something a bit different. I’ve always been very personable and enjoyed meeting people, and I felt I needed more interaction in my job so I moved into a commercially focused role. I joined IT manufacturer, Honeywell Bull, for five years where I learnt about dealing with other businesses and managing a large team whilst developing experience for commerce and sales.
After just over 20 years, I eventually had enough experience in electronics and sales and that’s when I started at Able Systems. I’ve now been here for more than seven years and have really grown with the business. My responsibilities include all international channels and I help to develop relationships in the vertical sectors, ensuring our products are used in industries across the world.
I owe a lot to the University of Portsmouth as it really made me who I am today. Prior to enrolling I grew up in Bracknell and hadn’t really experienced much of the world as the people I knew all had similar backgrounds, views and experiences. When I got to University, it was a huge eye opening experience as I met people from all walks of life with different views and opinions, it was simply great. Looking back, I was naive when I started but left with a different outlook on life and the world. There’s also the added bonus that I even met my wife there!
My career is now completely different to how I expected it to be, but you change as you learn and get older. My advice to current students is, if you find a company/industry you really love, just get in there and take almost any role. You can always move around and change roles a little further down the line. I also think it’s really important to find a good mentor who can help guide you and offer advice. You have to plot your own path in life, nothing is clear and simple, but as long as you have desire you can do anything you want!