Group Director of Governance, Conduct & Sustainability, BAE Systems
Like many of us over the pandemic, Debbie Allen, Group Director of Governance, Conduct & Sustainability at BAE Systems, took up a new hobby.
“Running is the thing,” smiles Allen. “Trying to just go further, faster - I ran a half marathon yesterday. I think through the pandemic, it's that setting a goal for yourself, to get through to the other side.”
Working at BAE and heading for net zero
Allen has worked at BAE systems for two decades and it was the rapidly developing technology which first attracted her to the role.
“It's just a really interesting company,” says Allen. “I mean, the stuff that BAE is manufacturing, it's a technology and engineering company, so full of interesting people, interesting products. It is a company that has a purpose; defence and security, that feels meaningful.”
The products offered by BAE Systems’ include Amphibious Vehicles, military aircraft and even submarines, all used in defence and security.
“It's something to get up for in the morning, you're contributing to things, but not without controversy,” says Allen. “Not everybody has the same perception of it. It's just a really interesting company and that was what attracted me to the role.”
But with increased attention on the environment, BAE Systems is set to change.
“I guess I've always looked at the climate,” says Allen thoughtfully. “My PhD was looking at control of combustion from coal plants. At that point, I was looking at things like sulfur dioxide rather than carbon dioxide. We followed the climate chemistry and then it just became carbon, carbon, carbon.”
What does Allen really think about climate change?
“Obviously it is a huge threat for us all,” says Allen. “I just don't feel that there's that sense of everybody owning it. There's a lot of talk about it, there are some people obviously hugely passionate and committed to it, but I suspect a lot of us are still not doing what we need to.”
BAE Systems however, aims to be net zero by 2030.
“We've got to have meaningful milestones in the next few years,” explains Allen. “As does every company, but it's got to be real. Otherwise we’ll get to 2026 and think ‘Let’s plant some trees’ - this should be additional, not instead of. All companies must have realistic targets set.”
Digital transformation at BAE
One tangible thing at BAE Systems is digital transformation and adopting more secure forms of technology.
“Digital transformation for us, as much as for any other company, includes the cybersecurity part of the business,” explains Allen.
“This is hugely important, if you can stay one step ahead of the other side, in terms of knowing what they're likely to do, where they're likely to do damage, then you can intercept it before it becomes a problem. So prevention is better than cure.”
Although BAE Systems is best known for its work in the land, sea and air domains, the company is also involved in executing justice on the dark web.
“Some of the pro bono work that we actually do is in child exploitation,” says Allen “We have the technology and the techniques to be able to scan electronic information, to sift out those few points that actually matter. There have been a number of child rings which have been broken because of our technology that can scan the dark web, to look for individuals.”
From protecting the planet to the vulnerable, BAE Systems is ready for the next generation of engineers to join the company.
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