BU graduate is Technical Lead at McLaren

Posted on Friday, November 8 2013

Jimmy Headdon with Formula 1 car

Bournemouth University graduate Jimmy Headdon is a Technical Lead for McLaren, working primarily in Formula 1 and other Motorsport fields, travelling the world to oversee the implementation and direction of motorsport software.

The path from university graduate to Technical Lead at McLaren was not straightforward, as Jimmy explains, “The six months following my graduation were spent re-adjusting to a non-academic life back home in Cornwall and the infamous graduate job hunt.  If I’m honest I was utterly lost as to which industry I wanted to start my career in, let alone one specific role.

“Fortunately I found a position at the Broadcast and Media Association where I had undertaken work experience several years before, based out of London.  They looked after me for three years and I had the pleasure of consulting [with] several blue chip companies around the world in this time.”

“London wasn’t for me though, and I decided to move back to a software development and architectural role similar to the industrial placement I undertook during my studies at BU.  I was now working for a telematics company designing web based applications for automotive insurance companies.  Whilst this was a valuable experience, I soon realised I belonged in a fast paced, challenging environment and therefore decided to push my luck applying for a software development role with McLaren Electronics.

“Three months later I was based in Woking at the McLaren Technology Centre applying my trade as a software engineer, working in numerous countries on an array of motorsport projects before progressing to where I am now.”

Jimmy left BU in 2008 with a degree in BSc (Hons) Business Information Systems Management and explains what his time at BU taught him. On the subject of what his course did to prepare him for his career at McLaren, Jimmy said, “The principles of applying yourself to a subject matter; analysing it from a different perspective and delivering something both valuable and unique.”

Jimmy continued, “[It was great] having the opportunity to work with some astoundingly talented and insightful people [at BU] who taught me the importance of balancing academia and socialising; predominantly at the beach!”

Now at McLaren Electronics, Jimmy is currently positioned as a technical lead for a software product which is used worldwide to provide accurate and complex data for Formula 1 and Motorsports industries.  Jimmy said, “I have technical authority over the direction of this [software] product and how we integrate with our customers systems, which are inherently complex and operate in an [environment] with zero patience for failures.”

Jimmy was also on hand to offer advice to current Bournemouth University students as they study towards their dream careers, “It’s easy to overlook the fundamentals when you are trying to stand out from the crowd.

“Take the time to learn your chosen speciality from the ground-up, you’ll likely be thrown in at the deep end when you find a position and those fundamentals will give you the confidence to ask questions and show your competence in the area.  You’ll have plenty of time to expand your domain knowledge, it’s the fundamentals that people often overlook when starting out.”