Michele Donald

Michele Donald | Defence Equipment & Support

I started my career in Defence back in the 1980’s and have always worked within a HR role with them. Looking after people, developing them and mentoring them to further their careers. As an apprentice manager, I have looked after over 120 apprentices over the last 5 years. Managing them throughout their career. Helping them in the Engineering community that I am involved in. I have had many successes and have seen my apprentices qualify and rise through the ranks in defence.

I have a family with 2 grown up children and have spent time in America accompanying my husband working in defence. During that time I volunteered to help service people in trouble. I am a caring individual and have many roles outside of work with my church.

My Achievements: I have helped over 120 apprentices to qualify as engineers in Defence and I am now a manager of Degree apprenticeship and instrumental in the set-up of that apprenticeship in our area. I work closely with the EEF and IET within this region and 4 of my apprentices have won categories in those competitions.

I am a role model in my area and act as mentors to many apprentices. I actively promote apprenticeships to the wider communities within the south west and believe that apprenticeships are the new best thing.

I am an active church member and help the community I live in and also regularly attend further education colleges and schools to participate in workshops to help students prepare for their first steps in the working world. I have received several commendations for this work.

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Claire Nixon | RAF

I joined the Royal Air Force in 2008 after completing a degree in Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge. Fascinated by psychology and social anthropology, I joined the RAF as a Training Officer – a specialisation dedicated to the development of personnel. Within this role, I have been privileged to provide training design and delivery support to a wide range of organisations. Whether leading a design team within the School of Physical Training, managing instructors at a multi-role Reservist Sqn or providing training policy advice to aircrew, I am constantly inspired by the depth of talent and passion driving training forwards in today’s military.In addition to my day job, I am also passionate about military sport and am a member of the RAF Athletics and Combined Services Ski Race Teams. Whilst hugely privileged to compete at this level, I am most proud to be Captain of the RAF Ladies Ski Team. I love being able to promote the physical and psychological benefits of the sport, share an incredible opportunity and be part of an inspirational team.

Clair Ryer

Clair Ryer | RAF

Growing up I was presented with few opportunities and I left school with very little. I knew I wanted a career that would mean I could make a difference and at 17 I joined the RAF. Before I knew it I was marching in full Military attire with a rifle nearly as big as me whilst learning to be a Logistics Supplier. Throughout my career I have dedicated myself to the development of others, helping them to realise their full potential. I qualified as a recruiter and, through work with charity organisations, I have assisted homeless citizens change their life. This enabled them to find a well-deserved career in the forces. Witnessing applicants with little confidence blossom at their graduation was extremely emotional and satisfying. Qualifying as a Defence Trainer I spent several years developing and mentoring the future custodians of my trade. Privileged to be selected as a Trade Advocate, I have the additional responsibility of engaging with Education Establishments inspiring young people irrespective of their chosen career path. Completing valuable training outside of my RAF commitment has enabled me to work voluntarily for organisations such as Inspiring the Future, Princes Trust, SSAFA and STEM. I use my strong values to support the development and wellbeing of others, helping them with the additional stresses that come with Military life. It’s imperative to be as supportive and understanding as possible. I invest a further part of my life to my amazing family and am actively involved in Animal rescue.

Kelly Davis

Kelly Davis | Defence Equipment & Support

I started my working career as an apprentice hairdresser with a company in Bath. As an apprentice I learned my trade with the salon and college. I worked within the industry for a few years after qualifying and then went on to work within retail. My customer experience that I gained from hairdressing and working with the public gave me a good knowledge serving the customer and I became the manager for the store. Working in retail does not give you the prospects to further my career that I wanted, so I joined the Ministry of Defence which invest in its staff and empowers them to move forward in their career in different roles. I have worked in various departments and I am now working with the Engineering apprentice team,where I feel I have done full circle. Helping to develop and encourage the engineers of tomorrow.


Susie Reynolds | PwC

After graduating from a Masters at Exeter University, I immediately joined the Accenture Graduate Scheme in 2010. Allured by the prospects of international travel and working with FTSE 100 companies, I eagerly upped-roots to London. In 2014 I moved from Accenture to PwC to focus more on the people and organisation side of consulting, rather than technology.

My career in consulting has enabled me to develop a range of experience in designing and implementing people, system, process and structural changes that enable more effective and efficient organisations. In doing this I have grown a wide understanding of good practice across multiple sectors including: Industrial Products, Energy, Retail, Government and Defence.

Throughout my career I’ve been fortunate to work on a range of international programmes, which have taught me to be open-minded and understanding of different styles and cultures. My global highlights include:

  • 4 months living in Abu Dhabi working with a French/UAE team to design a trading entity for an Energy company
  • 1 year managing an offshore Indian team of 12 and working with a 3rd Party German vendor, to deliver a new global payment system on behalf of a Dutch retailer
  • Delivery of training to a global sports retailer in Germany
  • Developing a global behavioural change programme for an Swiss insurer that was rolled out to 4,000 personnel
  • 2.5 years working in partnership with American construction firms Bechtel and CH2MHill, as part of a Defence transformation programme

I always jump at the opportunity to buddy, mentor and manage people as sharing experience and developing others is something I really value. Over the last 18 months, I’ve also been empowered to take on lead roles which has given me a unique opportunity to learn and grow.

In my spare time I enjoy travelling, exercise and socialising with friends and family.


Laura Dietz | Royal Navy

Having completed my Mechanical Engineering studies at Newcastle University I joined the Royal Navy in 2006. On completion of training I worked on Sea King and Merlin Naval Air Squadrons. From there I have worked in a diverse number of jobs including training, an operational tour in Afghanistan, an engineering support job and policy. Alongside my career I have undertaken further academic studies with both Portsmouth and Cranfield Universities and remain committed to my role as a STEM Ambassador both internal and external to the Royal Navy – I passionately encourage others, particularly females into STEM careers. Outside of work I enjoy life in the countryside, horse riding (as long as I’m not falling off!), shooting and time on the water.

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Emily Fowles | Royal Fleet Auxiliary

I started my Job with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 2013 at the age of 18 and have since then completed my cadetship, gaining not only my qualified Engineering officer of the watch status but also a foundation degree in Marine engineering. I am looking forward to an exciting and successful role in my capacity of third engineer whilst serving on Royal fleet Auxiliary Vessels. I am hoping that in the future I will be able to use my skills to advance further in the maritime industry.

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Jessica Bracey | British Forces Broadcasting Service

My job is not to talk, it’s to share stories and listen. As a journalism student from Bournemouth University my passion lies with hearing the remarkable stories of all walks of life and that’s why radio is the perfect medium for the military environment whilst remaining so intimate. I’m fortunate to have been the first ever student station manager of the award-winning Nerve Radio, Bournemouth University’s Student Radio Station. During this time I was crowned as best female presenter twice, presented a week long breakfast show with Phill Jupitus and despite managing over one hundred volunteers I still managed to get a first in my degree.

Subsequent time spent with BBC Introducing resulted in broadcasting stints at Glastonbury Festival, Maida Vale Studios and a nomination in the Grassroots Category at the 2015 Radio Production Awards. Time at BBC Gloucestershire saw me play a part in a new world record for the longest line of cupcakes for Children in Need.

Nearly a decade of volunteering and working in radio stations is a testament to my dedication to broadcasting. Stations have ranged from Community Radio and more recently BFBS Brize Norton and BFBS Blandford where I was one of the UK’s only solo female Breakfast Presenters.

Now permanently based with BFBS Cyprus, I’m embracing everything military life has to offer at the heart of one the RAF's busiest military base at present as well as undertaking a number of hard-hitting interviews; with the family of those who died in Cyclone Winstone in Fiji, with Army Medical Services dealing with Ebola and war photographer Don McCullin about his experiences on the frontline.

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Patricia Patilla Sanchez | Rolls Royce Plc

Since I was 14 years old, I coveted to become an aerospace engineer. I was strongly motivated by the challenging nature of the degree together with a passion for space and the universe. In college mathematics and physics were my key subjects, which were the foundation of my degree at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain). In order to finish my MEng in Aerospace Engineering, I had the opportunity to perform my Master Thesis at the Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, a state-of-the-art research centre worldwide in the field of Fluid Dynamics. After this experience, I was eager to find an environment where I could apply my knowledge to solve every day challenges.

I have had the opportunity to work in different companies and sectors in Spain, Germany and the UK. I joined Rolls-Royce PLC in 2013 where I have worked in different positions in the Defence sector. These include the aftermarket business developing new services for customer worldwide and in engineering. In my current role as development engineer, I am responsible for ensuring that our products will be safe in service and fulfil airworthiness requirements, whilst meeting the requirement of the customer and our business.

In addition to my day job, I am truly passionate about inspiring the next generation to pursue STEM careers and changing the culture to bring gender equality into the workplace. I re-launched the Rolls-Royce WoMen network in September 2015. From the re-launch I was Chair of the Bristol Site until December 2016. Moreover, I am a founding member of the Steering Group for Bristol Women in Business, a network connecting professional women in corporates and large businesses based in Bristol, which helps its members to continue to progress, make valuable connections and achieve their full potential.