Monday, May 23, 2022

Jack’s formula for success

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Joan de Bondt, The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper

Young Jack Thomas from Koondrook has landed a dream job in England as a performance engineer with the Aston Martin F1 team based in Silverstone, around a hundred kilometers from London.

Jack Thomas
Jack Thomas with the 2021 F1 car. Photo: supplied.

Jack has been in his new job for three months. He is a graduate performance engineer, motivated to learn, contribute and win in fast-paced, team environments.

I joined a Zoom session with Jack mid-afternoon our time, 5.30am his local time, to follow his career path, and to understand what his job entails. Jack works with a team of 10 people and his job is mainly factory-based.

“The team,” he tells me, “analyses data from the track, from the wind tunnel, from simulations. We take all that data and analyse it and make sure that it all comes out as expected – try to make the car go faster by looking at all that data.”

He sums this up for me: “It’s ensuring that the aerodynamics is working at the track as expected, and basically, our role is to make the car go faster.”

Aston Martin in Silverstone has a new 37,000-metre factory, set to be operational by 2023. There is a workforce of approximately 600 at present, which has been confirmed to expand to 800. The Aston Martin F1 team is owned by Canadian billionaire, Lawrence Stroll, and Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll are the F1 drivers.

I asked Jack whether fast cars had always been a passion with him. He said that growing up on a dairy farm, he had more of a mechanical interest in machinery and motors. He said that he is competitive by nature and played local football with the Raiders. These factors, combined with an aptitude for math and science, ultimately led him to his present job.

After attending Kerang Technical High School, Jack moved to Melbourne to study mechanical engineering at Monash University. Jack says that going from a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond was quite a transition, but he met lots of other students who had done the same thing and had the added benefit of staying with family not far from the university.

Over the past couple of years during COVID-19, Jack was involved with Monash Motorsport. Motorsport is a competition involving teams from hundreds of universities around the world, in which the undergraduates design, build and test formula style cars. Jack was heavily involved in the managerial and operational side. The teams do time trials and compete in design and technical events. The aim is to improve the technical proficiency of the students, and Jack said that this was greatly beneficial to his future career.

In mid-December last year, Jack applied for the job as performance engineer with Aston Martin, which was advertised online. He sent a resume and was granted an interview. He says that the interview, at 2am Australian time, was intense. ‘Caffeinated’, he was interviewed by three people, given tasks to do, and data to analyse and present back to them. He was then grilled for an hour on the data he presented.

He missed a call the following morning but received an email offering feedback, which led him to believe his interview hadn’t been successful. The following morning, he received another email congratulating him on obtaining the job and asking him to come to England as soon as possible. He was able to push back the start date to the beginning of February to give himself time to sort his visa, flights and accommodation.

This is the first time that Jack has been overseas, and he is loving the novelty of being able to spend weekends in different parts of Europe. A few weekends ago, he and a friend, who is on a gap year, flew to Copenhagen for the weekend and explored the city by bicycle. He recently went to a soccer match by train and said that fans from the two teams got into a fight at the station and had to be physically separated.

Jack says that he never would have imagined that as a boy growing up in a small country town, he could get such an amazing job on the other side of the world. But, he says, anything is within the realm of possibility. He says that he was so lucky to be part of a hardworking and supportive farming family, and he also recognises the input of his teachers and footy coaches. His message to the kids out there is that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible.

Jack is looking forward to a visit from his girlfriend, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend for two weeks in June and says that he will be home for Christmas.

Congratulations, Jack, I’m sure the whole district will be following the fortunes of the Aston Martin F1 team with a keen interest.

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 12 May 2022

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 12 May 2022.



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