Giorgio Enrico Bona works on digitalisation projects within the Seat Architecture department at Airbus Germany. During his studies at Politecnico di Milano, Italy, he led Team Flybrid to the 2013 final of Airbus Fly Your Ideas. In this article, Giorgio tells us about his career path and offers his tips for aspiring aerospace engineers.
After the competition, you did an internship with Airbus. What excited you about working in the Future Project Office?
It would be easier to answer, ‘what didn’t’! To design a new product, we need the team effort of thousands of people across the company. What is most exciting about the Future Projects Office is that you are part of a small team right in the middle of this effort. You can see the evolution of the aircraft because you are coordinating with many colleagues from other departments. The most important lesson I learnt is that designing aircraft is not a one-man-job.
Following this, you spent 4 years at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) as a Research and Development Engineer. Did your experience with Fly Your Ideas help you when you were starting out your career as an engineer?
For sure, especially if you want to work on innovative topics like in Research & Development. Like in the competition, you need to demonstrate in a short time that your concept works. What I learnt from Fly Your Ideas is that for a concept to be successful you need to look and plan beyond the technical aspects. During any concept study you will engage with a lot of people, and to engage you need to be crystal clear about which problem you are solving and what benefits you expect. It sounds trivial, but for highly innovative ideas, it can be hard to define the value. You will get a lot of feedback, positive or constructive, and you need to be open minded and flexible to refine the concept, until it works (or you meet your deadlines).
Since June 2019, you have been working at Airbus in Germany. Could you tell us more about your current role and responsibilities?
I am responsible for the digitalisation projects within the seat department. I am coordinating with an internal team to improve our engineers’ daily way of working. It is a really dynamic job – one day you are planning a sprint session to upgrade a given tool, the next one you are coding a small Proof Of Concept to help communicate your ideas, and have a team use it. It is fascinating because with modern technologies we can really accelerate the way we deploy software and learn much more with our teams. Fun fact: it was my experience on digital topics that I learnt in my previous jobs (rather than the engineering ones) that landed me the job. Be curious and keep learning!
What kind of challenges have you encountered in your work? How do you overcome them?
From a technological point of view, we are living in an incredible world. Almost everything seems possible, from super-efficient Electric flying to Urban Air Mobility. The most challenging (and exciting) part is to work in a large and ever-evolving organisation because it can be challenging to gather everything you need for your projects. Luckily there are many like-minded people that you can reach out to throughout Airbus who will help to answer your questions or find someone who can. Don’t be shy to ask for help!
How does working at Airbus compare to other aerospace companies? Are there any interesting differences or things that surprised you?
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is a research institution, and it’s interesting to see how much know-how you need to build throughout the years to see innovative ideas take-off. At Airbus, what I find striking is how much of a team effort and know-how is needed to develop a new product. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the whole world to get to a first flight. Regardless of the company you work for, it’s exciting to work in aeronautics.
What is your advice for students who are interested in pursuing a career in the aerospace industry?
Understand why you want to work for the industry. What motivates you? How does your ideal position look like? What do you need to learn to get there? Be on the look-out for learning opportunities. Fly Your Ideas is a great one for instance! Do not give up and keep looking for growth opportunities!
Inspired by Giorgio’s story? Want to read more? Meet Chamendra, the Fly Your Ideas alumnus shaping Airbus’ digital future.