Boyden Executive Search

Key Takeaways from Boyden's Aerospace & Defence Virtual Lunch Series

By Guy Herbertson
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The next instalment of the Boyden Aerospace & Defence Lunch Series was due to be held around a busy table in London for our executive network, however with all businesses adapting we moved to an online interactive webinar. Enabled by multifaceted technology, we were able to host twice as many attendees from CTOs & CIOs through to HRDs and CEO and benefit from polling and breakout rooms. Fantastic technology but we did miss the lunch!

Sameer Savani, Head of Innovation & Engineering at ADS kindly joined us to give us the view on the factors impacting COVID and Technology in the Aerospace sector in particular.

Sameer highlighted the well-documented difficulties for the sector at the moment and uncertainty around the future of air travel.  Will business travel be as common now virtual meetings have become a new normal? Will consumers be as willing to fly for their holidays or look to local breaks? There is then the sustainability question which has been lurking but will not recede post COVID. Targets have been set and people are seeing the environmental benefits from less travel during lockdown, however the question of sustainability will once again arise and challenge the sector.

The overarching feeling from the room and my personal network is that Defence’s lifecycle for now will remain robust with new partnerships announced and spending already committed. However, the medium to long term spend is far more debatable.

With China flexing it’s defensive & manufacturing muscle it could mean governments decide to continue spending on more technologically advanced programmes. Conversely, with government committing so much spend to economic recovery, budget cuts seem likely and defence is unlikely to escape this.

Following Sameer’s presentation, we conducted a poll asking the question of whether technology and innovation adoption and investment will increase, decrease, or remain the same as pre-crisis levels.

Interestingly, a huge majority of executives in the room felt that COVID would act as a trigger and the adoption and investment in innovation would increase compared to the levels we have seen before. A cause for cautious optimism for a new wave of positive disruption and new technologies.

I then went on to discuss Boyden’s findings with our clients and network, which has adapted remarkably to the situation. Whilst COVID has made an obvious impact, many of our projects continue and one fantastic example highlighted by Francesca d’Arcangeli was a client conducting virtual factory tours during the interview phase and others using psychometrics and different interviewing techniques resulting in offers being made – all without an in person face to face meeting.

We also introduced Faethm and their AI & Saas platform which helps to predict the evolution of work and job roles for any sector. Focusing on the Industrial Space where Aerospace & Defence naturally falls they asked six key questions:

  1. What’s the interaction level of each role and what can be done at home?
  2. Who is in the vulnerable category?
  3. Which technologies can immediately replace on-site tasks?
  4. What L&D actions are needed to enable remote working?
  5. When the curve flattens how do you ensure an orderly return to work?
  6. How do you rewrite the recruitment strategy for the new normal?

By mapping company data and using their AI, Faethm enables companies to be COVID resilient, to understand which jobs are remoteable, which roles can be augmented by technology and which roles present risks. For future ready, the output highlights the job corridor for the current workforce and the framework for the future.

Utilising Zoom we were then able to break out into a number of virtual rooms to network and discuss the subject of technology adoption, adjustment of talent requirements, how to attract this new talent & what will work look like for the sector post COVID.

The key outputs from the discussions were:

Overall, the level of conversation gave fascinating insights and although there are obvious difficulties and challenges, the perception we feel everyone took away from the conversation is that recovery will happen, opportunities will present themselves and agility will be crucial to sieze any opportunities.

Once again, it was an absolute pleasure to host this event with our network and thank you for all the insights shared and discussed making it a fascinating forum. I look forward to the next instalment.

If you would like any further information on Boyden, Faethm or ADS then please do get in touch with me and I would be delighted to discuss further.

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