Spotting and retaining exceptional talent

Navjit Rana is currently a Field Service Supervisor for Smiths Detection in Toronto, Canada. Despite taking a complicated route, he was definitely meant to reach this point - and the company played a key role in helping him fulfil his destiny!

As a small child in the UK, Navjit was already tinkering, fixing and experimenting with anything he could find around the house. His obvious aptitude for engineering was guided towards the aviation sector when spending time in a small village in India where he was fascinated by low flying aircraft from the nearby air force base. 

Back in the UK, he finished school and was offered a place at Oxford University to study aeronautical engineering, until fate stepped in again.

“A week before starting at Oxford my father tragically passed away and with my brother halfway through his own university studies, I felt I needed to stay at home and help support the family. In my mind, I was just deferring university but during that first working year, I discovered apprenticeships and decided to apply. I opted for an offer from Rolls Royce and a three-year foundation degree apprenticeship in mechanical and manufacturing engineering, followed by a full Bachelor of Engineering degree.”

Having completed the apprenticeship, Navjit spent a few years working with an accident investigation team looking at incidents around the world. Then it was time for a new challenge and he joined British Airways as an aircraft mechanic. Next, an interest in politics led to a sidestep into cybersecurity for the UK Parliament but he soon missed the hands on engineering and took up the post of Duty Engineering Manager at Heathrow Airport. Here Navjit had his first introduction to Smiths Detection security equipment and worked closely with the company. 

“I loved this job but during the post-COVID dip, I decided to take voluntary severance and do a bit of travelling. However, once my Smiths Detection contacts discovered I was available, they quickly offered me a job. I was certainly interested but felt it was time to move back nearer to my family in the UK Midlands. No, problem they said, you can work as a Field Service Engineer in that area!

The Canadian connection

With many relatives in Canada, Navjit took regular holidays across the Atlantic, using Toronto as a base and travelling around the country.

“In 2019 on my last trip to Canada before the pandemic, I met Inderpreet, the love of my life and now my wife! We didn’t see each for a whole year during COVID but we spoke every single day. Once we decided to settle down together, it was easier for me to transfer my skills to Canada rather than Inderpreet moving to the UK - again Smiths Detection saved the day. My request for a transfer was quickly accepted and I was put in direct contact with the Canadian team.”

Navjit accepted the position of Field Service Supervisor, Toronto with responsibility across Ontario province. The local team gave him a very warm welcome and he quickly settled into the new environment. This year, he has been nominated to take a management training course in Chicago and is also very active in helping to promote careers in the service side of the business.

“As an employer, Smiths Detection could not be any more supportive and I’m aiming to stay put for the foreseeable future. At this stage, I’m not ready to become deskbound and still love being very hands on. My current goal is to expand my team and I’m confident the company will be open to new ideas and proposals.” 

Loving the accent

One thing Navjit has not managed to solve, is how to respond to ‘Oh my, you’re British, I just love the accent’. Apparently, that conversation happens quite often….

“I have no doubt this is where I’m supposed to be and couldn’t be happier with both my personal and professional lives. I have a wonderful wife and my work at Smiths Detection more than satisfies my need to feel I’m contributing to society. And I’m not even worried about leaving my mother behind – she’s living the dream, splitting each year between the UK, Canada and India!”