Caroline Donaghy joined ADS as Defence Director in April 2020 and is a member of the executive team. Leading ADS’s work in the defence sector, she works with a matrix of stakeholders to ensure the voice of the sector is heard.

Kate Bailey, PR Executive at Farnborough International recently caught up with Caroline to discuss her role at ADS and the importance of defence and gender diversity within the industry.

Why Defence?

Defence is a fascinating industry involving a wide range of stakeholders and a complex supply chain. For Caroline, the interest has been there throughout her career: “I’ve always had a keen interest in the sector. There are connections through my extended family – I have several relatives who have served in different parts of the armed forces – and it’s an industry that plays a fundamental role in our national security.

“For me it’s about looking at the wider picture; the UK is a world-leader in defence and with that comes expertise, innovation in engineering and manufacturing, cutting technologies, the list goes on. Seeing how the Government and industry work together to bring the solutions to our armed forces and protection of the state is really interesting.”

Defence Director at ADS

“My role oversees the Defence programme within ADS, working with the team to deliver for members and I enjoy it immensely. I have exposure to front line command as well as senior defence officials in the government and MoD.

“ADS serves its members first and foremost; engaging in ongoing conversations and listening to what matters to them across the industry is crucial. Listening to feedback and acting upon this contributes to an overall improved experience. We are here to help bridge the gap and drive the engagement between industry, government and other key stakeholders to help improve their operation and business.

“I touch upon so many different topics which adds to the excitement of the role, the breadth is really eye opening and we need to focus on this more. We cover the entire supply chain which is complex but highly skilled and Britain is at the forefront of defence manufacturing, engineering and design. We are strong players with major influence across the global ecosystem.”

What are your views on diversity & inclusion in the sector?

“The whole inclusion piece needs addressing in many walks of life but we’re already taking steps in the right direction in defence. The Women in Defence Charter is a brilliant example of the work being done and I know several of our members are already signatories. The charter exists to promote and achieve equality of opportunity across defence and security.

“I want to emphasise the power of diversity of thought, and this doesn’t come from having only women in your workforce, this is about having diversity across the board. What are the glass ceilings being broken and by whom? The higher the diversity of opportunity, the more visibility we have to see more barriers be broken. I believe there are good learnings emerging, new ways of working, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (in terms of flexibility of location, working hours and so on) which I hope will positively impact diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

What advice would you give to other women?

“I believe in working hard, showing up to do a good job and I encourage other women (and men!) to do the same. There are plenty of role models out there for young women and girls. We’ve recently experienced a significant historical moment with the first ever female Vice President entering office in the United States of America. I’m a positive thinker and firm believer that anything can be achieved if you’re committed and resilient, somebody like Kamala Harris proves this.”

Read our other International Women’s Day blogs where we speak to Connie from the ADS Security team and Marika from the SC21 team.