New Professionals Forum – advancing your career

Growing your network in aerospace, defence, security and space

Did you know that ADS represents over 1,100 companies and 370,000 employees right across the UK?

The New Professionals Forum’s (NPF) recent event Advancing Your Career explored this in more detail, outlining why it is an exciting time to work in our sectors and how you can develop your career through professional networking.

Matt Hodgson, Chairperson for the NPF said:

It’s clear from the wealth of experience of our speakers that professional networking is key to discovering and unlocking the exciting opportunities that exist within our sectors. As the New Professionals Forum, we are here to help you create, develop and invest in these networks, so that you can shape, enjoy and succeed in your career

The event began with a welcome from Meggitt CEO and ADS President, Tony Wood.

It was then followed by a panel discussion outlining careers in our sectors from the perspective of:

  • Caroline Flynn-MacLeod, Terrington Management
  • Robert Hill, Northern Ireland Space Office
  • Omar Kadhim, ADS Aerospace
  • Connie Mathisen, ADS Security & Resilience

Connie Mathisen, ADS Prosperity and Growth Executive Security and Resilience Sector said of our sectors:

Never be afraid to join the sector if you don’t have the hard skills or the soft skills… you will develop those skills as you go along.

Caroline Flynn-MacLeod highlighted the importance of networking in career success:

… you make your own future… building relationships is extremely important and building networks. I would encourage everyone to take every possible opportunity that comes their way to go to something that they think might not be up their street but might be interesting, but more importantly I might meet lots of interesting people who might be useful to me in my own career development.

The event continued with a deep dive into the UK regions.

Across the UK: a truly national industry

Northern Ireland – Powerhouse in Engineering

Leslie Orr, Director of ADS Northern Ireland, started by describing the region as “a real powerhouse in engineering.” With over 100 member companies, it is the top region for SC21 business excellence, and has particular strengths in cyber security, advanced composites and CNC machining.

At the heart of this is the Northern Ireland Partnering for Growth strategy, which aims to double the size of the sector from £1bn to £2bn in just 10 years. Launched in 2014, it was ahead of this target until the COVID-19 pandemic hit aviation. The strategy includes a focus on skills, through initiatives such as Build a Plane Northern Ireland.

Scotland – welcoming new jobs

With attention moving east across the Irish sea, Warrick Malcolm, Director of ADS Scotland, showed how the ADS sectors were still buoyant despite the pandemic, with many companies “still welcoming new jobs, still looking for new entrants.”

Scotland has a diverse engineering scene; 95% of engineering-related companies within Scotland are SMEs, so there are “plenty of vibrant opportunities out there within those SMEs.” In keeping with the event’s aim, there was time to explore the opportunities within Scotland to build your professional network, especially through ADS Scotland’s skills and career development work.

This emphasis on ADS Northern Ireland & Scotland led to an important question from the audience: what does ADS do to support businesses in Wales?

After the event Simon Levy, Head of UK Defence Business Development at ADS, told the NPF that ADS “work[s] very closely with Aerospace Wales … to not only support our members, but the wider industry in the region.”

It is clear from the event that ADS works with members and regional trade associations throughout the country in order to promote UK industry. This is something the NPF seeks to do too for those early in their careers.

The New Professionals Forum

The New Professionals Forum is an early-careers networking community for ADS member companies.

Do you have an idea for how the NPF can better engage in your region?

Get in contact with either Luke McDowell (NPF Northern Ireland Rep), Kenneth Freeman (NPF Scotland Rep) or Matt Hogsden (NPF Chair).

If you missed the event, make sure to sign-up to the NPF in the Members Area for access to the recording.