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Shining the Spotlight: Gareth Jones

In this article, we shine the spotlight on Gareth Jones, Engineering and Technology Director for Rolls-Royce Defence.

What is your role?

I’m the Engineering and Technology Director for Rolls-Royce Defence, based in Bristol, with engineering teams split roughly half in the UK and half in North America. The role is accountable both for engineering’s functional capability in the Defence business, and our Aero and Naval products’ technical performance, including Product Safety. In addition to this role, I also Chair the Defence business’ Diversity & Inclusion Council.

What do you enjoy most about it?

I’ve been at Rolls-Royce for over 25 years and really enjoy the variety and the challenge. The product scope is broad – covering turbojet, turbofans, turboprops, turboshafts and navalised variants. There are new product types on the horizon too and generally, things are changing pretty quickly in every respect. The scope of relevant product technology is broadening, with increasing emphasis on electrical systems, new product architectures (like hybrid) but there is still a need for mechanical systems expertise. The importance of Digital and Cyber capabilities is also increasing rapidly. And it’s not limited to the product, the technology related to the way we work is also presenting us with opportunities to do things differently, more effectively and more efficiently than we’ve historically done. Of course, opportunities like these are also threats to our competitiveness, if we don’t lead or, at least, keep up with developments in the global marketplace.

What is your background?

I studied Aeronautics at Imperial College London, graduating in 1993, and then joined Rolls-Royce full time (having been sponsored for my final year). I’ve worked most of my time in Defence in Bristol, but also spent a couple of years in New England (based at the Pratt & Whitney facility) and five years working in the Civil Aerospace business, based in Derby.

What are you looking forward to in your field/area of expertise/industry? Any predictions/advice?

I’m looking forward to having our historic approaches being disrupted in a constructive sense by the maturation of new technology, allowing us to solve problems and meet more demanding platform needs through more elegant solutions – the integration of electrical and mechanical systems has massive potential to do this. I also think that the technologies we pioneer in industries like Aerospace and Defence have the potential to make big cross sectoral contributions to wider society. For example, complex modelling and simulation capabilities can contribute to understanding and therefore addressing global challenges like climate change. My only advice is to embrace through-life-learning – the skills you used in the past aren’t necessarily all that you’ll need in the future. Dip back into your old textbooks or buy some new ones for new topics to keep current. My other piece of advice is to learn from your setbacks, disappointments and frustrations – I’ve learnt quite a lot….

If you got stranded on a desert island and were granted three items, what would they be and why?

Being practically minded I find it hard to think beyond a big knife, a tinderbox and a water bottle solely for survival purposes!

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