Describe your role and responsibilities. How many years have you been in the company?
I have just started my 34th year at Rolls-Royce and I have loved every minute of it. An iconic brand, I have seen us evolve from a niche UK engineering company to a global industrial technology company that is increasingly more diverse & inclusive in it’s make up and culture. I seriously do believe I have one of the best job’s in Rolls-Royce where my small team and I have the responsibility for community & STEM outreach globally. I’ve held a variety of awesome STEM roles: a Craft Apprentice at age sixteen, a graduate in Engineering, a designer of gas turbines, a supply chain manager for Europe, an IT consultant for SAP & business transformation and Logistics director in Asia. Today I’m committed to ensuring no young person is left behind / misses out on the opportunity to enjoy an exciting & rewarding career in STEM – and so help make our world a better place.
Where did your interest in community begin?
As you can see from my career to-date I don’t have an obvious community/education background. Thankfully my team do! What I do hope to bring to the role is a passion for people & leadership (having held leadership roles for over 25 years), a real connection with the business and how to get things done, programme management and a sincere desire to make a difference.
How has your community investment programme evolved at your company?
It’s moved quite clearly over the last 3-4 years from nice to strategic. When I left Singapore to return to the UK to take this role, everyone said “how nice”. Although we are thoroughly nice people in the Community Investment team at Rolls-Royce, it’s not about being nice, it’s about being strategic and delivering real business and community value. The LBG framework has helped us here and last year we were ranked DJSI industry leader in the community space. And its not because we throw money at it. We don’t and in fact we are at the bottom of the benchmark for our cash investment. But what we are extremely proud of is that almost half of our investment in the community is through employee time/purposeful volunteering with impact.
What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?
Of course what we do in Community Investment is largely discretionary. Some in your organisation will see it as a cost. The challenge (and part of what keeps me inspired) is to ensure more people (including those at the top of the organisation) see what we do through community as a long term investment. That’s why it is critical to ensure our approach to community investment is aligned to the company strategy – if it isn’t, if it isn’t relevant then I would agree with the naysayers that it is a cost. And of course in business, costs should be minimised or removed.
The other part of what keeps me inspired is the purposeful or meaningful engagement we are able to deliver through our community strategy. Either directly by myself or observing the impact on our employees when they go face to face with those people in the community we are supporting; in the classroom, amongst a community group, to mentor a young person finding their way or as a non exec director on a charity trustee board. Our people not only develop their own skills and leadership but through their real social impact they increase their engagement, motivation and well-being too.
What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?
I would have to say the biggest accomplishment is the company’s buy in to our STEM strategy through the publicly declared (through our Sustainable Business strategy) and hence committed target of reach 6 million people through our STEM programmes and activities by 2020. And we have just extended this to inspire 25 million tomorrow’s pioneers by 2030!!
In terms of learning always keep an open mind. Take the time to listen to new proposals and ideas even if you don’t think they are for you and your organisation. You just don’t know where they might take you. Some of our most interesting, engaging and impactful programmes or activities would not have started with being curious at the outset. In fact I would not be in this role if my mind was not a little bit curious when the opportunity came up.
What is your motto in life?
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” – Voltaire. In other words, don’t strive for an impossible ‘perfect’ at the risk of getting nowhere. Be prepared to accept ‘good’ or ‘better’. Afterall “Better never stops”.
We are one of the world’s leading industrial technology companies, pioneering the power that matters to connect, power and protect society. As pioneers, we must continuously innovate to provide the best solutions in the markets we serve. In the coming years, we believe that three key trends will define our world’s future power needs: electrification, digitalisation and cleaner, safer and more competitive power.