| BAE Systems | Sigma Leadership Programme


Header image

BAE Systems - Sigma Leadership Programme

Industry Other
Functional area
  • General Management
  • Operations
  • Research & Development
Duration 3 years
Region Europe
Location United Kingdom
Language requirements English (Fluent)
Salary GBP 27000
Mentorship program No
Preferred study background
  • Business Studies
  • Engineering
Recruitment process
  • Online application
  • Online assessment
  • Telephone interview
  • Face-to-face interview
  • Assessment center
Go back

Required skills

Leadership 7
Team working 7
Problem solving 7
Communication 6
Creativity 6
Commercial Awareness 6
Pressure Resistance 7
Flexibility 7
Networking 7


Sigma is a unique, fast tracked leadership programme that we have especially created for people of the very highest calibre. It lasts between three and five years, and is designed to develop the engineering and business talent, which will lead our business in the future.

There are two routes that you can take through the Sigma programme: our engineering framework, which enables you to remain as an engineer while still moving towards a key leadership role; and our business framework, which develops your talent for leadership within our business functions.

The Sigma programme is fully endorsed by the members of our Board, so it has a high profile. For us, it's a major, long-term investment in real potential, and that's why we look for some serious commitment, both of effort and time, in return.

The qualities you’ll need
To get the best out of the Sigma Leadership Programme – and also yourself – you will need the drive to create and seize opportunities, and the imagination to question the accepted.

You will need to be persistent and tenacious, with the ability to quickly learn new skills and concepts.  You must be prepared to take business critical decisions, and will need the presence and credibility to build effective relationships with customers and suppliers.  As well as being globally mobile, you should value diversity and difference.

In short, we expect the very best from you.  But, in return we offer a future of demanding challenges and unrivalled opportunities.  And, as you would expect, you can look forward to a very attractive rewards package indeed.

Development Structure
  • The Placement Process
    At the heart of Sigma is the placement process.  It’s designed to give you high levels of functional competence combined with an understanding of the wider business, plus the opportunity to manage complex issues and drive change.
    On Business Sigma you will be on placements for three years, each lasting between six and 18 months.  If you come in from outside BAE Systems you are likely to begin with a six month placement, although your later placements are likely to last longer so that you get additional responsibility and enjoy even faster development.
    On Engineering Sigma you go on a range of placements, each lasting between six and 18 months.  After you’ve done this for three and a half years, you will be more than equipped to take on an important executive position within the business.  However, you will still be part of the Sigma programme for an additional 18 months whilst you fine-tune your engineering experience and development.
    All of our placements are hands-on. They are purposely both stretching and intensive, and are designed to give you the experience of making real differences to our business. You will gain experience of a number of different sectors and businesses, spend time with customers and suppliers, and enjoy involvement in several phases of our Engineering and Project lifecycles.  Throughout, as you learn and continue developing, you’ll be meeting the challenge of delivering against exacting objectives.
  • Training and Support
    The hands-on experience you receive will be backed by a comprehensive training package, tailored to your individual needs. Your development plan will be yours alone, identifying all the skills and experience you’ll need to become a rounded leader of our business. You’ll have on-the-job training, training courses, formal study, mentoring and coaching to build on both your technical and leadership skills.  And, as Sigma is a global programme, we will provide training as necessary to help you gain competence in an additional language.
    We’re well aware that this is a rigorous scheme, which is why we provide such a comprehensive network of people to support you as you progress.  We have found that the strongest support for a Sigma member comes from the current Sigma community. So, you’ll be allocated a ‘buddy’, to assist you in acclimatising to the programme, your first placement and to BAE Systems as a whole. You will be given both a technical mentor and a corporate mentor (typically at Director level). Finally, there’s the overall manager of the programme, who has ultimate responsibility for all the progress you make.

Programme Timeline

  1. The Recruitment Process
    Once your application form has been successfully screened you will be asked to complete numerical and verbal reasoning psychometric tests online. This will be followed by a telephone interview and finally a 1.5 day assessment centre.
  2. Your Buddy
    You will be assigned a buddy prior to joining Sigma.  Your buddy is likely to be a current Sigma, who will be able to help you with settling in to BAE Systems and the transition onto the programme.
  3. Your Sigma Manager Meeting
    A one-on-one with the Sigma Manager will help set your expectations on the way ahead.  In assessing your skills and experience the Sigma Manager will be able to best match you to your first placement, and find you a suitable functional mentor.
  4. Placements
    You will spend at least three years on placements within the business, each lasting between six and 18 months.  The first placement is likely to last six months. Later placements are longer, enabling you to take on greater role responsibility.
  5. Mentors
    As a Sigma, you’ll be assigned both a corporate and functional mentor who will guide you through your career and development.
  6. Your Individual Development Plan
    Right from the start we’ll work with you to produce a career development plan, which outlines your skills and experience to date together with your plans for the future both on Sigma and beyond.  This document structures your Sigma training and development.
  7. Workshops
    Managed by a Sigma member and supported by the Sigma Manager, these workshops provide invaluable opportunities for the Sigma community to share learning experiences in the spirit of continuous improvement. Workshops take place three times a year and also serve to strengthen the Sigma network.
  8. Appraisals
    Each Sigma is formally appraised every six months.  Salary increases are determined by these assessments.
  9. Multi-cultural Experience
    Our future leaders need to develop awareness of different cultures (in both business and national terms), value diversity and empathise with global customers to build strong relationships.  Consequently, you will be encouraged to pursue opportunities that will increase your multi-cultural experiences.  These might include working in or leading multi-national teams, or working overseas as part of a placement.
  10. Your First Appointment
    After three years for Business Sigma, and three and a half years for Engineering Sigma, you will move into your first executive appointment within BAE Systems.  However, this point is just the beginning…


Do you have what it takes?
Sigma is an extremely challenging programme, both personally and professionally. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that you’ll need to meet some criteria before you can carry on with your registration and application.

Business candidates need:

  • 320 UCAS points (excluding General Studies)
  • A business-related degree

Engineering candidates need:

  • 280 UCAS points (excluding General Studies)
  • An engineering-related degree

ALL candidates must:

  • have a minimum 2:1 honours (or equivalent) degree
  • have the right to live and work throughout the UK for the full duration of the graduate programme

Please press the apply button if you are confident you meet these criteria.

What makes a Sigma member?
Becoming a Sigma member is not just about having the right academic experience (although, of course, we value intellectual excellence highly). Sigma members come from a diverse range of backgrounds, but there are certain qualities every Sigma member must be extremely capable of:

Achieving High Performance
Achieving High Performance is about embracing challenging yet realistic objectives and maintaining focus on delivery even when under pressure.  People who exhibit this competency are committed to, and accept personal accountability for, high standards of performance.

Focusing on the Customer (internal and external)
Focusing on the Customer is about building trusting relationships, influencing customers' decision making in a positive way and making commitments to them that are clear and achievable.

Developing Others
Developing Others is about actively creating the type of environment in which people develop and learn through delegated responsibility.  People who exhibit this competency are able to support others by providing effective feedback on their performance.

Continuously Improving
BAE Systems want people who have the drive to identify and implement change.  Continuously Improving is about planning ahead to avoid problems, overcoming barriers to progress, bringing in fresh ideas, and making compelling cases for change.

Working Together
Working Together is about engaging key stakeholders to ensure that people are genuinely bought into decisions.  People who perform highly in this competency place team success over self-interest.  They build networks and effective teams, listen to people and keep team members motivated under pressure.

Technical: Analysis, Judgement and Problem Solving
Analysis, Judgement and Problem Solving is about quickly analysing and understanding the complexity of a situation.  People who exhibit this competency develop effective project plans and manage risk successfully.

If you are applying from within BAE Systems, you will be considered on the basis of exceptional performance in the business rather than on your academic record.  You will need a reference from a senior manager within your function or department, and should have been with us for at least a year.

The full package offered by BAE Systems includes a competitive salary of £25,750 to £27,800 (dependent on degree classification and/or relevant work experience), 25 days’ holiday per year, final salary pension and a number of discounted healthcare, car lease and share schemes.