Fin­ger on the pulse

For young kids won­der­ing what to do at univer­sity, the mar­ket­place for en­gi­neer­ing is ex­plod­ing right now, and there are hun­dreds of spe­cial­i­sa­tions that or­gan­i­sa­tions like ours need”

EME Outlook - - Cobham Plc -

If Cob­ham is to fully ex­ploit the op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by not only space, but all the other ar­eas it har­nesses ex­per­tise, then pay­ing at­ten­tion to in­ter­nal pro­cesses is go­ing to be crit­i­cal.

“This is about keep­ing on top of our man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses, the tech­nolo­gies we use, some of which we’ll have in­house and oth­ers we’ll use part­ners for,” Bag­well ex­plains. “Data han­dling, for ex­am­ple, is an­other in­creas­ingly im­por­tant area now, un­der­stand­ing the risks as­so­ci­ated with loss of data and cy­ber threats.”

The con­ver­sa­tion takes a nat­u­ral turn to the im­por­tance of at­tract­ing, de­vel­op­ing and re­tain­ing the nec­es­sary skills to fu­ture­proof the busi­ness.

From grad­u­ates out of univer­sity to sea­soned en­gi­neers look­ing for a new chal­lenge, en­sur­ing that the bright­est minds choose Cob­ham over ri­val or­gan­i­sa­tions could be a defin­ing fac­tor of the firm’s fu­ture.

“One of our real ad­van­tages is our global reach, mean­ing we can look at ev­ery univer­sity around the world,” adds Bag­well. “For young kids won­der­ing what to do at univer­sity, the mar­ket­place for en­gi­neer­ing is ex­plod­ing right now, and there are hun­dreds of spe­cial­i­sa­tions that or­gan­i­sa­tions like ours need, and we are fish­ing in a rel­a­tively small pond at the mo­ment.

“One thing Cob­ham is re­ally cham­pi­oning is get­ting more women into en­gi­neer­ing jobs. Half of the work­force are women, so it makes com­plete sense to train up and en­cour­age this half of the pop­u­la­tion to pur­sue en­gi­neer­ing as a ca­reer. We need peo­ple who are ag­ile and ready to adapt as the times move.”

This phi­los­o­phy is backed up in prac­tice. Around seven per­cent of Cob­ham’s rev­enue is ded­i­cated to re­search and devel­op­ment, a vi­tal com­mit­ment if the com­pany is to re­main at the fore­front of de­vel­op­ments across its in­dus­tries.

The power of part­ner­ship

Bag­well also read­ily ad­mits that Cob­ham alone can­not in­no­vate and in­vest in ev­ery lead­ing-edge devel­op­ment.

The firm re­lies on an ex­ter­nal net­work of part­ner­ships to com­ple­ment its in- house ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and over the years has also ac­quired and ab­sorbed a va­ri­ety of com­pa­nies, each with their own unique pedi­gree and story.

“We are also pri­mar­ily a sub­con­trac­tor, a part of the sup­ply chain, so ap­pre­ci­ate what it is like to be loved by an orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­turer,” adds Bag­well. “We ab­so­lutely feel what our sup­pli­ers feel.

“If the sup­ply chain doesn’t work, the prod­uct, which ul­ti­mately has a Cob­ham stamp on it, doesn’t work ei­ther. I men­tioned the need for us to find skills and ca­pa­bil­ity, but at the same time we know we can’t do it all, so part­ners and sup­pli­ers are crit­i­cal to us. It is about find­ing these smaller com­pa­nies who are pi­o­neer­ing and giv­ing them the op­por­tu­nity to bring in­no­va­tion to mar­ket.”

Util­is­ing the pi­o­neer­ing spirit of smaller com­pa­nies also helps larger play­ers such as Cob­ham to man­age risk.

“Our re­la­tion­ships are col­lab­o­ra­tive and our R&D in­vest­ment isn’t all about spend­ing money on things, rather in­vest­ing in ideas and find­ing new part­ners,” con­tin­ues Bag­well.

“Big com­pa­nies by na­ture are more risk averse, so we must in­ter­act with the smaller play­ers who may have that lit­tle spark we need to make the next step. We have so many en­gi­neers and peo­ple out there net­work­ing, and Cob­ham’s net­work of knowl­edge is some­thing even we may un­der­es­ti­mate.”

Look­ing ahead

Col­lab­o­ra­tion, both with ex­ter­nal part­ners and in­ter­nally across ge­ogra­phies and busi­ness units, will en­sure Cob­ham con­tin­ues to serve its di­verse port­fo­lio of clients around the world.

For Bag­well, a key pri­or­ity for the com­ing pe­riod is com­mu­ni­cat­ing an ef­fec­tive mes­sage about what the com­pany is and what it is ca­pa­ble of. Cob­ham is rightly revered as a spe­cial­ist in nu­mer­ous tech­no­log­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tions in niches across aerospace and de­fence – now is the time for the dots to be joined and for the firm to be recog­nised as one ma­jor, mul­ti­fac­eted en­tity.

Bag­well con­cludes: “We have a lot more to of­fer, and I want us to ex­ploit that. I think you will see the brand be­come in­creas­ingly well-known as we con­tinue to do this – we are up there with the world’s largest and more is to come.

“If you are look­ing for a busi­ness that is rep­re­sent­ing Bri­tain on a global plat­form, work­ing in some of the most hi-tech en­vi­ron­ments in space and aerospace with an ex­port­ing out­look, that is Cob­ham. We rep­re­sent the UK, and I am op­ti­mistic that we are go­ing to re­main and develop as a force to be reck­oned with in mar­kets world­wide.

“Our diversity is mas­sive, and our op­er­a­tion is global.”

Adefin­ing year in his­tory dur­ing a pe­riod syn­ony­mous with both di­vi­sion and unity, 1945 is best known in global time­lines as the end of the Sec­ond World War.

Along­side the global de­struc­tion, it was a year that marked con­certed ef­forts to strengthen global ties and re­la­tions in the aim of pre­vent­ing any fu­ture break­downs of such scale ever again. These ef­forts ap­plied to all na­tions, with one such ex­am­ple preva­lent in the warm­ing re­la­tions be­tween the Kingdom of Saudi Ara­bia (KSA) and the United States.

King Abul Aziz ibn Saud, renowned as the founder of the mod­ern Saudi State, pre­sented then US Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt with brightly coloured camel’s hair robes, hand painted per­fume bottles, a gold dag­ger set with di­a­monds, and other gifts to ex­tend the Kingdom’s hand of friend­ship.

In re­turn, Roo­sevelt pro­vided the Mid­dle Eastern coun­try with a DC-3 pas­sen­ger plane – an air­craft that marked the be­gin­ning of Saudi Ara­bia’s ven­tures into air travel.

Im­pressed by the DC-3, the king quickly pur­chased nu­mer­ous ad­di­tional air­craft that led to the for­ma­tion of Saudi Ara­bia Air­lines (Saudia) in Septem­ber 1946, with the coun­try’s first in­ter­na­tional flight tak­ing off for Jerusalem in that same year.

Since this time, Saudia has ex­panded ex­po­nen­tially to be­come not only the national car­rier of KSA, but equally the largest air­line in the Mid­dle East, aid­ing the trans­porta­tion needs of more than 32 mil­lion pas­sen­gers ev­ery year.

Cru­cial to the his­toric suc­cess of this ex­pan­sion from 1959 on­wards has been Saudia Aerospace En­gi­neer­ing In­dus­tries (SAEI), for­merly known as Tech­ni­cal Ser­vices Di­vi­sion prior to the pri­vati­sa­tion of Saudia in 2009.

A com­pany that is wholly-owned by Saudia it­self, SAEI stands as one of the world’s lead­ing full-ser­vice

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