At ADS’ pre-COP26 event held in October, there were many insightful panels focused on sustainability in the aerospace, defence and space sectors from the perspectives of seven global Chief Technology Officers through to young professionals hailed as the future leaders of their companies. The future leaders panel was thought-provoking, and inspiring and showcased the drive and determination to create a more sustainable world for future generations.

Following on from this, ADS’ current MBDA Secondee, Chiedza Lunga who works on the ADS’ New Professional Forum caught up with the future leaders. We’ve taken a deep dive into their thoughts on topics ranging from careers advice, skills and how to improve sustainability in their sectors.

This time we are hearing from Beene M’membe, an advanced technologist at the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).


Tell us about your journey to your current role?

I am an Advanced Technologist at the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) with 5 years of experience in the Research and Development (R&D) sector. I joined the ATI after two and a half years of working as a research engineer at the National Composites Centre (NCC) in 3D composites. Prior to joining the NCC, I completed a PhD on damage tolerance of composites at the University of Bristol.

My area of expertise is composite materials for aerostructures.  As a technologist I work with the wider aerospace industry to develop UK capabilities in strategic technologies. Technologists play an important role in defining the UK aerospace technology strategy in their areas of specialism and key activities of my role include developing roadmaps and assessing industry led R&D project proposals for the eligibility of UK Government funds. I also lead the ATI tooling and modelling and simulation strategy for manufacturing future aerostructures.


What brought you to aerospace and what inspires you about the sector?

I chose to study aerospace engineering because I wanted to do something different. All the influential people I knew growing up were lawyers, doctors, economists, journalists or politicians. At the time, I could not see myself in any of those roles.

My inspiration for the sector comes from my time at the Bristol Composites Institute. I was fortunate to have worked with leading academics who had a contagious passion for R&D and exposed me to fascinating R&D ideas such as biomimicry and other multifunctional structures.


How can new professionals contribute to improved sustainability now and in the future?

I think young professionals entering the workforce should not be afraid to voice their opinions. They should also be willing to engage with and learn from more experienced professionals on how to deal with the challenges posed by the transition to a more sustainable sector. More importantly, they should find a way to be creative and push the envelope with technology and challenge the existing work culture.


How can aerospace attract and retain young people?

We need better advertising for jobs in the sector via non-traditional channels! For example, we need better representation of the sector on television and social media if we are to compete with other professions such as lawyers, doctors, etc. The sector also needs to improve pay and skills in some roles such as technicians.


What tips would you give to those who have just started their career and are looking to develop the skills needed in the future?

Tailor your job to what truly inspires you. There are many ways to work in this sector. You do not have to follow a conventional path or a traditional engineering role.


Wise words from Beene! Thank you for offering such insight to our questions. See you again soon for our next blog.


About The New Professionals Forum

The New Professionals Forum is an early-careers networking community for ADS member companies. Contact to find out more.