On 21 May 2018, over 60 people from across the defence, aerospace, security and space sectors gathered at QinetiQ, Farnborough to attend a New Professionals Forum (NPF) event. This time, the event was focussed towards our Security and Space sectors. The afternoon was filled with speeches from industry leaders and innovators, professional development workshops, mentoring sessions, market stalls and innovation zones. Everything aimed to foster a culture of collaboration, inclusivity, and innovation, with opportunities for networking and growth for young professionals within our sectors.

Luke Hamnett, Chair of the NPF, highlighted the key themes of the day – diversity of thinking, promoting personal development and collaboration across industry sectors. All of which contribute to the continued success and the value of our industries to the UK economy. He emphasised the importance of making sure all roles are included in the conversation, such as sales, project management, business development and customer support. It is not just the responsibility of technical and research areas to drive success, it’s everyone’s.


The first theme of the day was instilled by the opening keynote address by Kevin Craven, CEO of Serco UK & Europe. Kevin spoke of diversity of teams and how different points of view and perspectives can lead to more informed and ultimately better decision making. He encouraged the group to educate themselves by seeking input from a variety of sources, to get news from various outlets and seek the views of those you don’t necessarily agree with in order to develop the process and quality of your own decision making.

His advice to the forum was to take as many opportunities as they can. Our industries are multi-national and multi-disciplinary, and he encouraged the group to explore as much of it as possible; opportunities such as secondments and overseas placements will only make you more diverse. The NPF has also made a previous blog on this topic for further reading.

Industry Insight

Kieran Bell from QinetiQ gave an industry insight into the variety of work that QinetiQ does. He described the wide range of technologies they have developed from everyday technologies such as LCD and touch screen technology to the testing of the Boeing aircraft in their low speed wind tunnel.

Kirsty Akroyd-Wallis, President Elect for INCOSE UK and Head of Model Based Engineering at MBDA systems, presented on ‘Every Day Systems Engineering for Everyone’. She pointed out that systems thinking is primarily a structured way of approaching a problem that many people use in everyday life without often realising it.

Throughout the day INCOSE, The IET, QinetiQ and Reaction Engine hosted market stalls to support attendees understand what they do and how they can support their professional development.


Elizabeth Sheldon, Vice-President for Security at ADS and CEO of Evidence Talks, closed the event with her keynote speech. She explained the current and future growth of the security sector, and its role in developing innovative, robust and relevant security products in service.

She warned of the difficulties that may be had post Brexit. Sustaining the talent pool in our sectors to create a thriving future for the sector was a key theme. Elizabeth encouraged the group to go into schools, communities and give advice to young people about careers in our sectors and more specifically the diversity in roles within the security sector.

The ADS team are constantly working to raise awareness of the opportunities and initiatives for companies and individuals in the security sector. ADS sponsor the Outstanding Young Security Professional award at the UK Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPAs), driving to improve the skills of young people in the industry through challenges and initiatives.

The session was rounded up by noting the ideas suggested by the forum for potential innovation challenges for future engagement, ideas included hackathon, social media based hunt, decryption challenges and developing apps all of which aimed to encourage critical thinking and problem solving, key skills in the security sector.

The NPF Committee would like to thank everyone that attended and to those that helped make the event possible. The team will be working on feedback given at the event and implementing these new ideas or changes. Our next event will be focussed on the Aerospace and Aviation industries with a date to be announced in the near future.

If you would like to know more about the NPF or get involved, please contact Andy Grimshaw, NPF Facilitator.

This article was written by Kirsty Templeton.