Innovate UK launches new mentoring scheme to support women in aviation

Posted on: 17/07/2023
Future Flight launch group of mentees at the Royal Aeronautical Society headquarters, London.

As part of the UK Research and Innovation Future Flight Challenge, Innovate UK has launched an exciting new mentoring scheme to support women working across the aviation sector.

The scheme will support mentees in developing and achieving their career goals and will involve:

  • Workshops to understand their career goals and aspirations.
  • A bespoke needs analysis for each participant to understand the support they need for their career.
  • Learning more about the challenges for women working in aviation.
  • Sharing insights on how to build a career and the role that mentoring support can play in this.

Mentees will be matched with mentors that are best suited to their needs and who will provide support throughout the scheme, meeting at regular intervals and recording progress. The scheme will establish a communications network for mentees and mentors, sharing key information and providing dedicated support. Participants will also be introduced to the alta mentoring platform, which focusses on female attraction, retention, development and support in the aviation industry.

Prof Sue Durbin, Professor in Human Resource Management at University of the West of England and a founding member of the alta mentoring platform, said:

I am delighted to be leading this innovative programme which has been designed to inspire, empower, and support women, through mentoring, from senior women across the industry. This is especially important for women who work in male dominated industries. My own research demonstrates that these kinds of initiatives are critically important in helping women to find the support they need in male dominated industries, especially from other women who have trodden the challenging path before them. Benefits include self-empowerment, career and technical support through mentoring, and the building of a sustainable network amongst mentors and mentees. The programme aims to ensure that the future workforce is more gender diverse and that women have a place in its future. We are very proud to be working together to enable women across the industry to ‘reach their potential’.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories of 16 mentees participating in the scheme.

Participant stories

  • Aamna studied Electrical (Telecoms) Engineering at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in Pakistan before completing a master’s degree in Electronics Engineering at the University of Sheffield. She began her career as a Graduate Engineer at UL solutions, working on cellular certification and R&D testing, before taking up roles at Samsung Electronics, ETS-Lindgren, and Zebra Technologies. Aamna now leads customer engagement for RoboK, where she has responsibility for cultivating customer relationships, implementing dynamic marketing strategies, and driving the commercialisation of AI-enabled computer vision SaaS solutions.

    Profile image of Aamna Seghers, Customer Engagement Lead, RoboK

    Participating in the Reaching my Potential mentoring scheme is an empowering opportunity for women to shatter barriers, broaden horizons, and soar to new heights. I am grateful to be a part of this transformative journey, connecting with exceptional mentors and fellow participants to expand my perspectives and foster valuable relationships. This experience fuels my determination to propel myself towards continuous growth in both my personal and professional pursuits. Together, we have the power to cultivate an industry that embraces inclusivity, celebrates diversity, and thrives on innovation and collaboration, leaving an indelible mark on the future of this sector.

  • Ceri is based in the Aviation Consulting and Mobility arm of Arcadis, working on developing technologies such as alternative fuels and the implementation of decarbonised energy solutions. Having graduated from the University of Southampton with a master’s degree in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Ceri began her career as an analyst and then consultant at Egis. She later worked at the Midland Metro Alliance as a Project Controls Supervisor before joining Arcadis.

    Profile image of Ceri Jury, Project Manager, Arcadis

    As investment in sustainable aviation technology and infrastructure accelerates, innovation in the aviation industry can be strengthened through the continued improvement of equality, diversity, and inclusion. I’m thrilled to be receiving mentoring support through Reaching my Potential from experts in a field I’m passionate in. I’m hopeful that mentoring will support my career development and confidence in navigating and breaking down barriers in the industry. It has already been wonderful to meet so many inspirational women at the mentee launch event and I hope schemes such as this encourage and promote further generations to pursue careers in STEM.

  • Alison Young is an international trade and investment expert with experience in project management across various industries in both the public and private sector. Alison began her career as a teacher of English as a foreign language, before working in project management roles in the creative and business consulting sectors. She has significant experience in international trade and investment, having spent several years at the Department for International Trade as a Commercial Attaché and a Trade & Investment Advisor specialising in technology and smart cities. She now leads on global investment for the Connected Places Catapult, with a focus on net zero mobility and built environment projects.

    Profile image of Alison Young, Head of Global Investment, Connected Places Catapult.

    It’s a great opportunity to be selected as part of the mentor scheme. To have been given the opportunity to have access to a 12-month scheme to develop professionally, working with inspirational female leaders, really is priceless, as I am keen to learn from people’s lived professional experience within the aviation and aerospace sector, especially from an international and strategic perspective. The opportunity to network across the future flight eco-system, learn from people’s experience and skills, really is a fantastic opportunity and something I hope I can learn from, developing my own skills but also share with colleagues.

About Reaching my Potential

Funded by UK Research and Innovation, the Reaching my Potential scheme launched in June 2023 and will run until September 2024. It is designed and delivered by Professor Sue Durbin (Professor in Human Resource Management, University of the West of England), and supported by Stella Warren (Research Fellow at the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre, University of the West of England) and Dr Ana Lopes (Senior Lecturer in Work and Employment, Newcastle University Business School. The programme will also be supported by aviation expert Judith Little, a founding partner of the alta mentoring platform, and Amy Camp (Innovation Lead on the Future Flight Challenge, Innovate UK).

About the Future Flight Challenge

The UK Research and Innovation Future Flight Challenge, is a £300 million programme, co-funded by government and industry, that is supporting the creation of the aviation ecosystem needed to accelerate the introduction of advanced air mobility (AAM), drones, and electric sub-regional aircraft in the UK.

Delivered with support from Innovate UK KTN, the programme works with industry, academia, government, and regulators to transform how we connect people, transport goods, and deliver services in a sustainable way that provides socio-economic benefits using new types of air vehicles with novel technologies.

Appear on the Innovate UK Future Flight Landscape Map, the only comprehensive network of future flight academics, companies, end users, and investors.

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