The biggest challenge of running a large international corporation like EADS may be similar to those of any big international company which is in a changing environment. The central challenge is to have the best possible international team at the top, and really have a good team, not just single players. One of the most important things for the CEO is not to micromanage the business, and give the orientation, as far as strategy is concerned, and look after the human resources department.
Among many factors, Robin Southwell, chief executive of EADS UK in one of his interviews, has said skill is one of the keys which is holding the British Aerospace Industries back. He pointed that creating a broad skills base from a much earlier age gives the biggest boost to the industry.
He said EADS is not looking for more money, but if a nation launched an award in engineering, such as GCSE engineering and engineering, then triple the number of engineering places in all forms of education, the result would be more than amazing. This shows how he has a vision to develop the British Aerospace Industry with his love for his own country.
Robin Southwell had grown up in Barnet, North London with his teacher parents and brother, who is a postman. His background of education gave him the chance to develop his skills early enough, especially the negotiation skill. His skills were a boost at the British Aerospace in 1981 where he learned about aerospace engineering and the industry. He worked hard when he took a position as the head of the Australian business and latterly managing director of the group’s servicing and support division. Then, he left BAE in 2000 after landing at the chief executive’s post at engineering consultancy WS Atkins.
The up and down in his career made Robin Southwell realize about the importance of the engineering course in the university. The shortage of good engineers would affect the value of the talent management in the industry. He said that there are more than fourteen people applying for each engineering course at the universities in Britain. Some of these are being taken up by people from overseas, but the Britain demand is not being served by the supply. This is why Britain needs to do more to give people the chance to develop their academic skills.
As CEO, he also has the responsibility to take people, mentor, and follow through with them to the management positions one day. If there is no talent development in a company, people will get frustrated very quickly within their jobs, and they will eventually leave. It is vital for a company to make it more outward look and international.
With the Euro crisis and stagnation occurring, the relative share of Europe in the world market is declining. If EADS is very successful to face the global challenge, UK will be the heart of the aerospace industry in Europe with the largest number of employers. The old philosophy that we do not have to offer something to potential partners, we want to sell to is now gone.
Robin Southwell suggested that EADS should not just focus on Europe, but also see how to get the best and brightest worldwide. He adds that if the industry does not place the UK at the heart of Europe, then nothing does. So whatever the outcome for Britain’s role in Europe, EADS must ensure that they remain as a part of the European economy community in protecting opportunities for investment, partnership and growth in the aerospace sector.
His statement came with a reason. The failure of the merger between EADS and BAE Systems as Britain’s biggest defence contractor in 2012, and made UK lose around €30-€35 billion as reported, has built fears within government and industry circles that work on the next generation of Airbus aircraft, as well as other big aerospace and defence projects, will drift away from the UK. Airbus employs about ten thousand people in the UK, largely at its wing manufacturing plant in Broughton, North Wales, and at its design and testing facility in Filton, near Bristol.
This fear made the government and aerospace industry executives think and draw up a new strategy for creating an aerospace research centre, in addition to the centre of excellence for aerodynamics announced by George Osborne in 2102. The strategic update is being coordinated by the Aerospace Growth Partnership, a body that brings together government ministers, officials and UK-based aerospace companies. EADS also has its big role in the strategy. EADS took an initiative to make a difference in the strategy of human resources management.
This would consider a fact that EADS represents the aerospace, defence, security and space industries in the UK, which are among the biggest employers in the British economy. Aerospace and defence companies alone is reported has more than 400,000 employees in the UK and generate about £60 billion for the British economy, according to EADS.
Southwell’s Strategy of Human Resources Management
This number of employers in the aerospace, defence, security and space industries makes Robin Southwell as the EADS boss is well aware that human resources side needs to keep pace with that. And, he made an act. EADS and Airbus are proud sponsors of a joint UK government and industry initiative to fund up to five hundred Masters Degrees in Aerospace Engineering over three years since the year 2000. There is a bursary fund, around £6 million, support more than five hundred graduates and employees studying for Masters level degrees in aerospace engineering.
The scheme is part of a wider initiative by the government and industry, as a part of the UK’s Aerospace Growth partnership, to encourage and support young talent building careers in aerospace. Leading UK aerospace and defence contractors, including EADS and Airbus, have committed £3 million in total to the cost of the scheme.
The scheme also encourages students to participate and forge relationships with the UK aerospace companies, through project work and placements leading to future employment opportunities. Admission to the scheme is administered by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Aeronautical Society.
The scheme itself is aimed at students who, but for the bursary, would not otherwise study at Masters level, who intend to seek employment in the aerospace industry, and company employees at sponsor companies wishing to up skill. The Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Aeronautical Society are overseeing the program, and will test in the competition process the need for the award and the commitment to work in the aerospace sector through the application and interview process. The process will seek to enable a more diverse range of people to reach a Chartered Engineer status and to work in the aerospace sector.
Robin Southwell said that this scheme is a milestone in order to keep the sector globally competitive over the decades to come. His other vision is that EADS will be able to create a new generation of aerospace engineers who are urgently needed in the industry at the moment. The decision to invest in developing the aerospace engineers of the future shows the type of long term thinking that the UK needs to keep being at the forefront of the global aviation industry. The UK has the second largest aerospace sector in the world and investments such as this is an absolutely key in helping secure the high level skills that they need to keep ahead of their competitors and secure continued success for future generations of aerospace workers.
Gender Equality in EADS
EADS is known for its deep commitment to diversity in both principle and in practice. Respect for differences among the workforce has been shown to improve collective performance across organizations, as well as building a more open-minded, inclusive culture. This is proven by signing the UKRC (The UK Resource Center)’s CEO Charter. It is reported that EADS within the UKRC group is planning to hire 1000 women in 2012. By signing the charter, EADS commits to support the aim of increasing the participation of women in science, engineering and technology, to develop gender equality and communicate around it, as well as to promote best practice.
By signing the charter, EADS further demonstrates its continuing commitment to implement a positive culture change among the Airbus Group.”
EADS were reported they have already committed to implementing diversity policies among its workforce and aims at lifting the level of women recruited to more than twenty five percent, and the number of female managers to twenty percent by 2020 according to one of the news personally. EADS have taken its initiative to participate in some programs, such as GROW (Growing Opportunities for Women), raising the profile of Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects in the hope of encouraging more female students, and also launching the EADS mentoring program that is focusing on developing female talent across all divisions.
EADS under Robin Southwell made a difference with the human resources management and young talent program. He believed that the UK has a world-leading aerospace industry, but it can only be as strong as its workforce. Training and skills are important to its continued success, which is why they are an integral part of our Aerospace Industrial Strategy. EADS would keep continuing to create the next generation of highly-skilled engineers with the help of the government. An industry needs bright and talented people to drive it forward so it can stay ahead of the global competition.
Talented young people are always in high demand. In fact, new ways of thinking about human capital management are being demanded by businesses and organizations that now view people as their most valuable sustainable assets in a knowledge-based service economy. Human resources must be held to a higher standard than they have been up until now. They must move their professionals beyond the roles of policy police and regulatory watchdogs to become partners, players and pioneers in delivering value.
This is the reason that a profession is on the rise in aerospace industries. Robin Southwell has a view that companies are beginning to recognize the central role that strategic human resources management can and must play in the development of sustainable organizational health and the realization of vital business objectives. An employee is being charged to engage more in strategic business issues and is thinking more like corporate executives, moving out of academy mindset and putting themselves in the mind of those who are guiding the organization. But this strategic shift comes at a price that an employee will need to develop a broader business understanding in areas such as corporate finance, marketing, and strategic management. One of the most important attributes of emerging leaders, according to industry experts, will be the coupling of core knowledge with solid strategic thinking and analytical skills.
Robin Southwell said that it is important for an engineering student for not just studying engineering as the only subject in the university or just taking a special area, such as mechanical engineering or aeronautical engineering. An engineering student has to learn more than engineering, such as the skill of negotiation or business that can help them to create more value. This value will be more useful for the students in the work field as he said that many students want to get a degree in engineering, but then they would like to choose a different work field later, like a consultant. Indeed, he criticized that the government needs to increase the number of easy implemented course in the university.
Back to the base of all industries, especially aerospace industries, Robin Southwell believed strengthening the supply of skilled people in key areas of technology such as aerospace engineering is essential for a sustainable economic recovery and to ensure that the UK continues to be a leader in advanced design and manufacturing. And, EADS has proven all of these under his leadership.