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Thales-sponsored engineer makes Great Britain bobsleigh squad

Maddison Illsley

Thales in the UK is proud to be sponsoring one of its engineers who has achieved a remarkable sporting achievement after being selected for the ultra-competitive Great Britain Women’s Bobsleigh squad in her first year of trying the sport.

Our Thales Engineering team in the UK were very supportive of Maddison and her sporting ambitions, and with help from the business, they made the sponsorship possible.

Maddison Illsley, who works at the Thales Crawley site in West Sussex, has now left the UK to start her winter training in Norway, before the team competes in the Europa Cup and events across Europe.

Former degree apprentice, and now a systems engineer with Thales, Maddison’s selection for this season’s GB team is all the more amazing in that – although she is an experienced track and power athlete – she was only selected for bobsleigh training earlier this year.

Thales in the UK has also implemented a hybrid working scheme that allows her to balance her engineering career with the unique demands of her sport; Maddison is able to commit to a high level of athletic training, while still developing her engineering career.

She said: “When I told my line management about being selected for the GB team, they were incredibly supportive. The sponsorship from Thales is going to make a huge difference. The chance to represent your country is an absolute honour and to have your company behind you is just amazing”.

Speaking from her winter training camp in Norway, Maddison reflected on her experiences growing up that have led her to this remarkable position.

She said: “As a kid, I wanted to be a pilot and engineering has always been there as a passion for me. My Dad was a huge inspiration for my brother and I; he is an engineer and scientist so it was just a family thing. Taking things apart, putting them back together was just a part of my childhood.

“When I got to sixth form and my friends were thinking about university, I wasn’t sure if it was for me. My dad was once again the inspiration – he had done an apprenticeship which also led to getting his Masters, so I started researching the largest UK engineering companies that could offer apprenticeships while studying for a degree.

Maddison’s experience with Thales so far has included time at Crawley and Glasgow, working on programmes such as the Royal Navy’s next generation Type 31 warship and optronics technology for the highly-advanced Astute submarine.

She said: “Engineers have a shared enthusiasm for understanding how things work and I’ve loved the fact I’ve been exposed to these sort of high-profile programmes already. It was definitely the right choice for me.

“Also, being an engineer has helped me understand the sport of bobsleigh that little bit better. The mechanics, the technical and weather challenges, how the sled moves on ice – that understanding of how things happen.

“It is a choice to do both and it takes commitment from both sides to make this work. But Thales have been amazing”.

Mike Seabrook, Company Secretary for Thales in the UK, said:

We are incredibly proud of Maddison’s achievements and wish her and the squad the very best as they head into the winter season. For us, it is incredibly important we provide the right level of support in such a demanding schedule.

You can find more information about careers at Thales in the UK here

About Thales

Thales is a global technology leader in the Aerospace, Transportation and Defence & Security markets. In 2019, the company generated revenues of €18.4 billion with 80,000 employees in 68 countries. With its 30,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements. Thales has an exceptional international footprint, working with customers and local partners around the world.

Thales in the UK is a team of over 7,000 experts, including 4,500 highly skilled engineers, located across 9 key UK sites.

Each year Thales invests over £575 million into its UK supply chain, working with over 2,000 companies. They are dedicated to research and technology, working with partners to invest over £130m+ in R&D in the UK annually.

With a heritage of over 130 years, Thales in the UK understands the importance of developing skills for the future. They currently have 112 graduates and 238 apprentices, and are forecasting an additional 56 graduates and 104 apprentices for their 2023 intake in the UK. Thales is committed to supporting its people, and continuously developing talent, and highly skilled experts.

Thales helps its customers think faster and act smarter. Whatever it takes.