Nadia Johnson

Nadia Johnson | Thales UK

I am Nadia Johnson, 21 year old software engineer for Maritime Mission Systems Thales UK, working on SONAR processing. My current position is one of four third year software degree apprentices, where I study my degree part time alongside my job. I work with languages such as Java and C++ and for the first project at Thales, I had to teach myself python. My role doesn’t only revolve around constant programming, but requires a key understanding of the systems you’re working on.

I’ve taken it upon myself to introduce new innovative ideas never considered before in my department which I demonstrated on my first project with Thales. I was given the role of evaluating and establishing a new automated test system based around a technology called Squish. The technology and the culture of such an automated testing system were new to the software team and department I work in.

I have now moved on and working with our biggest SONAR system S2076 updating the software for our Astute Class Submarines. I have taken it upon myself to investigate new technologies that we can use in future developments of the system. I can combine these aspects of my role to my University projects, giving me a complete understanding from both an industrial and academic view of the technical units and technologies.

In addition to my role, I have owned and led the following activities in Thales:
>Snapchat – I have been the Thales UK lead for snapchat usage. I helped create a snapchat channel for the Thales early careers site showing life as an apprentice at Thales for prospective employees.
>UK Apprentice Committee – I am one of six members of the Thales UK apprentice committee, regularly presenting to the UK management board.
>Work based groups- I am currently a champion for both our ‘Your Employee Society’ (International) and ‘Employee Engagement’ teams at the UK and regional level here at Thales.
>I am a mentor for our new intake of apprentices, encouraging them to get involved in the same types of activities I found myself doing throughout my apprenticeship. I am also there to provide support with University also.


Rebecca Fyans

Rebecca Fyans | Royal Navy

After travelling across Asia Pacific in 2004 I realised I wanted to do something different so I joined the Royal Navy in 2007 at the age of 27. I have worked in many different places HMS York, Camp Bastion hospital in Afghanistan and HMS Nelson before I found out I was pregnant in 2012. This is when my life changed for the better, forever.

Sebby was born in 2013 with Down Syndrome (DS). The Royal Navy allowed me to take a career break to dedicate my time to ensuring he had the best start in life. During this time I became closely involved with a children’s charity, the Portsmouth Down’s Syndrome Association. In the last few years whilst volunteering as a charity Secretary, Trustee and new parent liaison; I have delivered training to midwives on how to give a positive diagnosis of DS; lectured college students and educational professionals; spoken at charity events and high profile dinners; been filmed for the Channel 5 Great South Run; organised and taken part in multiple fundraising events; and featured in the Navy News on several occasions.

I am extremely passionate about ensuring new parents have a positive start on their family journey and are given the support they need in the early days following a diagnosis. I actively seek out military families with a child with DS and signpost them to groups and military charities that can support them.

I am part of a global initiative to spread positive awareness of DS, networking with local businesses and organisations UK wide. I thrive on both promoting the charity and the work that we do. I feel proud to be a part of a such a wonderful and close community.

After 4½ years I returned to the RN in June 2017 working in Legal Services at Navy Command HQ dealing with Service Complaints and have not looked back. I am proof that you can have a full-time career in the RN, a husband that is also serving in the military, 2 children- one with additional needs and a Trustee who aims to inspire women to stay in the Armed Forces after having children.


Elspeth Hulse

Elspeth Hulse | Royal Navy

From the age of 10 I always wanted to be a doctor. After school, I secured a place at Aberdeen medical school and during this time I joined the Royal Navy as a medical cadet. After graduation, I worked as the sole doctor on two Royal Navy Destroyers where our tasking ranged from providing disaster relief after a hurricane in the Caribbean to evacuating civilians from a conflict zone in the Middle East. I have worked as the medic onboard Search and Rescue helicopters and during an operational tour in Basra, Iraq, I led a trauma team providing care to combat casualties in the field hospital.

For the last 7 years I have trained to be an anaesthetist in both Devon and Edinburgh. During this training I developed an interest in toxicology and undertook a diploma at Cardiff University and a PhD at the University of Edinburgh. My research interests include studying the effect of organophosphate poisoning (nerve agents or pesticides) on the lung and immune system and the measuring of blast lung injury in casualties hurt by explosions.

I currently work as an anaesthetist in both the NHS and Royal Navy and live in Edinburgh with my amazing husband and two children. I play violin in my local church and love to paint with acrylics.


Bethany Kerr

Bethany Kerr | Thales UK

From day one I knew where I wanted to be. A successful, independent and empowering young woman. I left college at 18 with A-Levels in Mathematics, Business Studies and Psychology, I did not want to take the traditional route to university and when I left college I took a year out. Thankfully the common perception of a gap year has substantially changed in the last decade. I was able to gain full time employment whilst commencing on a personal journey which has been instrumental in laying the foundations to develop me into the mature, sensible and compassionate person I am today in both work & life. After considering my options, I knew I wanted to embark on an apprenticeship scheme and I have grown up with family working in both the engineering and defence industry. This led to me successfully gaining an apprenticeship role at Thales & taking the bold decision to relocate to the city of hard work ethic and hub of activity that is Manchester. My current title is a Project Planning and Controls Apprentice.


Emma Miles

Emma Miles | Royal Navy

Emma Miles grew up in the Peak District and attended secondary school at Sheffield High School for Girls. On completion of her GCSEs she successfully completed the Admiralty Interview Board and was awarded a place at Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College as the first Naval entry. After her A-levels she went to Loughborough University, gaining a BEng(Hons) in Aeronautical Engineering under the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme, still under sponsorship by the Royal Navy.

Emma joined Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in April 2010 to begin her Naval career as a Marine Engineer, passing out in December 2010. From here she headed to HMS SULTAN, Portsmouth to begin her professional training, achieving her Marine Engineer Qualification in September 2012.

Her first assignment was to Navy Command Headquarters, Portsmouth to conduct a discrete project investigating Remote Diagnosis, Maintenance and Repair techniques. In May 2013, she joined her first complement ship as the Deputy Marine Engineer Officer (DMEO), HMS ST ALBANS, as she entered a docking and maintenance period. Whilst in this role, Emma was loaned to HMS KENT to support her in a Middle East deployment for a two-month period. Emma’s DMEO assignment culminated in achieving her Marine Charge Qualification and gaining a Recommendation for Charge which entitles her to lead a Marine Engineering Department at sea.

Following this assignment, Emma joined HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH in January 2015 as the Hull Engineer Officer. This role involved assisting with the build programme for the UK’s new flagship aircraft carrier through the test and commissioning of equipment, policy generation, acceptance and quality assurance in partnership with external authorities. Here, she also became a STEM Ambassador, promoting women and careers in Engineering and Defence across schools in the Fife and Glasgow areas. Departing in November 2016, she then attended the Defence Academy, Shrivenham for the Intermediate Staff and Command Course (Maritime), passing with an Upper Merit and receiving the Greenwich Prize for Endeavour. On completion of this course in January 2017, Emma successfully competed for her current role of Engineering General Service Career Manager where she is responsible for the management and mentorship of upwards of 130 junior engineers.

Alongside her demanding career, Emma is also a competitive sportswoman participating at National level in Triathlon and Luge. In addition, she has represented the Royal Navy on the International stage in Swimming and is the Ladies and Open Water team manager for the Royal Navy Swimming Team.


Samantha Neath

Samantha Neath | BAE Systems

I, unlike most of my peers, chose not to go to university so my working life began quite a bit earlier than others and my introduction to employment was not via the usual graduate route. I started my career in IT recruitment, which I did for about 3 years; I joined in a support role, but then moved into recruiting, account management and then team leader.

I then wanted to make a change into resource management, so applied for a vacancy with Lockheed Martin UK, who I had actually worked with previously in the recruitment agency. I was successful and was hired as the Resource Manager on a large government IT programme (c.300 people). The programme was a consortium between Lockheed Martin (as the prime), BAE Systems (or what was Detica at the time) and Logica, so the role involved working with the other two organisations as well as recruitment agencies and the HR teams within Lockheed. After almost 2 years in post, the programme contract came to an end so I decided to make another move, both in my job but also physically to London.

In 2015 I joined BAE Systems Applied Intelligence as an Operations Manager, managing the resourcing function across multiple clients and projects in our National Security account in London. After 12 months in the operations team, I wanted to make a change to work in a client-facing role and I was lucky enough to be able to make an internal move into the Business Analysis practice. In early 2016 I took on my first project role in our National Security client group, working as part of a business change team delivering a new IT system to customers and users across the UK. My next project role was in the commercial team supporting a multi-procurement programme within the Home Office, before I moved back into National Security.

In my current project I work in the resourcing work stream to set up and staff a new government body. This has allowed me to bring together all my previous resourcing and recruitment experience, with my more recent knowledge and understanding of the client landscape. It is definitely the most challenging, yet interesting, project I've ever worked on and I am looking forward to it's completion in 2019.

Last year I also took on a voluntary role of leading the LGBT employee resource group, OutLink. in Applied Intelligence. With the support of OutLink and other colleagues, I have managed to successfully launch the Allies programme, communicate key LGBT dates, hold networking and social events, work with our clients on LGBT matters and grow the network by over 20 times in less than a year. I have also agreed to take on the role of co-chair for the network across wider BAE Systems (about 33,000 people in the UK), which I will be starting in June / July this year.


Rosie Hall

Rosie Hall | BAE Systems

Rosie is a Project Manager from BAE Systems Applied Intelligence working in the Defence Industry. Throughout her life she has always enjoyed leadership roles and developing others, whether it is in the work place or through her passion of equestrianism. She studied Business Studies and Human Rights at university, furthering her interest of business and enjoyed running a small business during her final year. She began her career in her final year of university, working part time as a Project Management Officer at SABMiller. Developing the basics of project management and gaining experience in the working world. She joined BAE Systems Applied Intelligence 3.5 years ago as a Project Management Officer the day after she handed in her dissertation at university! She currently works as a Project Manager running a multi million pound framework in the Ministry of Defence. During her time at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence Rosie has gained a vast network across the company and has always worked to further others, holding a position on the Employee Representative Forum and working with the Business Unit Leadership Team to improve engagement and D&I outside of her day job.


Caroline Gadsby-Bruce

Caroline Gadsby-Bruce | Accenture

Studying Aerospace Engineering in Liverpool prepared me well for my first role at Accenture; based in the factory of an Aerospace manufacturer in the North-West! Since joining Accenture in 2012, I have worked within Technology Consulting in Aerospace and Defence. My main focus area is the implementation of multispeed (agile elements) into large ERP transformation programmes to improve performance. I love using skills from my engineering and consulting background to fix client problems with such a tangible product.


Madeline Pizzoni

Madeline Pizzoni | British Army

After working as training as a civilian nurse for four years in Nottingham, Lt Pizzoni undertook a significant career change and joined the Regular Army in April 2014. She spent just over a year at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as a badly broken leg forced her into rehabilitation for several months. Despite the severity of the break, she fought very hard to get back onto the course and commissioned into the Army Air Corps (AAC) in August 2015.

Following her commissioning, Lt Pizzoni began the Army Pilots’ Course in September 2015. The course is long: students must first pass a series of aptitude tests, a stringent medical and a four week Army Flying Grading course designed to test their ability to pick up new skills quickly in a high pressure environment. Upon successful completion of these three elements the students’ progress onto RAF Cranwell where they are first taught to fly a small Fixed Wing aircraft before moving into the Rotary world at RAF Shawbury. The Army Pilots’ Course culminates with a six month period at AAC Middle Wallop where students learn to fly tactically; operating at low level by day and by night. After two years and three months of gruelling and mentally demanding effort, Lt Pizzoni gained her Army Pilot Badge and was recognised as the third best pilot on the course. She is one of very few active female pilots in the AAC.

Lt Pizzoni was selected as the Army representative to be attached to the RAF and fly the Puma; she is due to begin training in September 2018. In the meantime, she is working at HQ Regional Command (HQRC) in the Civil Engagement branch. She was selected for this job because she has a passion for female inclusivity and equality, something that initially drew her to the Army. She hopes to use her time at HQRC to engage with young women across the UK and act as a role model for females in both the Army and aviation in general.

During her spare time Lt Pizzoni enjoys sports and always seeks out a challenge. A keen runner and swimmer, she represents the AAC in both and also completed her first Half Ironman in 2017. However, her favourite sport is skiing and she is a ski instructor for the Army. It was while training to improve these instructor skills that she sustained her current injury, rupturing her ACL. The implications of this injury are acute and will almost certainly interfere with her ability to fulfil her commitments to flying the Puma. Rather than let this hinder her, she has thrown herself into rehabilitation in preparation for surgery and used her new desk-job status to run the Engagement Events for the Ice Maidens; continuing to advocate women in the Army, albeit from a less mobile position.

In the immediate future, Lt Pizzoni hopes to recover from surgery well enough to pursue her position on the Puma fleet and to get back to skiing after a season out. Long term, Lt Pizzoni hopes to achieve a full career in Military aviation, primarily as a Qualified Helicopter Instructor; where she will be responsible for the tuition of new pilots at the basic rotary stage.


Zara McArdle

Zara McArdle | Royal Air Force

Growing up with Police Officer parents, Zara knew that she wanted to follow in their footsteps with a challenging job, far from your mundane 9-5. After a visit with her father to the Swansea AFCO in 2003, she joined the RAF as a HR Administrator on completion of her AS Levels.

Continually seeking challenges and development, she has had numerous postings all over the UK and overseas in various HR roles. Enjoying a successful career, she is now a Recruitment Specialist, managing the recruitment of all airman/woman entrants. A keen advocate for diversity and inclusion, she is an RAF Ambassador for HR and Gender and is in the process of setting up the RAFs first Female Network as its Deputy Chair.

Her favourite parts of her job are employee engagement and customer relationship management. Taking a personal interest in employment law, particularly in regards to maternity, she assists personnel from all over the UK with related queries. She loves being in a position to help people, empower her staff and to contribute towards social mobility by encouraging everyone, particularly females, that they can have a rewarding career with the RAF whatever their background, exceeding their goals and achieving ambitions they hadn’t previously considered.

Married and mum to two young girls she has a busy home life. Outside of family time she is the PR and Marketing Manager for her local SANDs branch (the Stillborn and neonatal deaths charity) and has recently organised a fundraising drive that saw £1500 raised for a new cuddle cot her local hospital. She also volunteers for Inspiring the Future, attending events as a gender ambassador all over her county. With any remaining spare time she likes to study, having recently completed her CIPD Level 5 in HR Management and is currently studying for a Level 7 in Strategic Management and Leadership whilst deployed in the Middle East.