Dr Ruth Mallors-Ray OBE was appointed Chief Operating Officer of the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) in September 2014, assuming responsibility for the day to day operations and Stakeholder Engagement. Prior to this, Ruth was the Director of the Aerospace, Aviation and Defence Knowledge Transfer Network, an Innovate UK Programme. During her tenure Ruth established a UK R&D network across Aerospace and made a significant contribution to securing and setting up the Aerospace Technology Institute.
Previously Ruth held many senior level positions within Ernst and Young, Sainsbury’s and AMEC. Ruth holds a PhD in Chemistry from Edinburgh University and a BSc in Chemistry from University College, London. Ruth is a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and STEM Advisor to a Girls Science and Maths School in London. Ruth received an OBE in 2015 for services to science and innovation.
In difficult moments always be respectful.
What attracted you to the aerospace sector?
Coming from a scientific background, I have always been curious, science leads to products and the journey of development is what fascinates me. My journey in aerospace began in 2008, and my inspiration was close to home – my sister-in-law Lindsey. Lindsey pointed me to the job posted in the Sunday Times for a Director of the Aerospace and Defence at the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN). I instantly knew this was for me, and I was privileged to be selected and lead an excellent team of people working across the sector. What is there not to love about these ingenious people and their flying machines.
What is your vision for the UK aerospace sector in the next 15 – 20 years?
My vision for the sector is for it to become once more the industry of wonder and delight for those looking at careers. And, what I’m most excited about it the prospect of aircraft electrification, the discussions we are party to currently is showing a significant shift in momentum and will secure smarter, greener, safer aircraft; as set out in the ATI’s technology strategy, Raising Ambition.
If you could change one element of technology, or a particular type of technology in the sector, what would that be?
The use of graphene. The ‘wonder material’ has masses of potential, and can solve enduring challenges within the aerospace sector. There is a real opportunity for the material to become disruptive, and a key enabler in future aircraft technology. How truly amazing would it be for the UK to manufacture an aircraft made mostly of graphene. If you don’t dare to dream, then the possibility won’t become the reality. The ATI has been working with the Institute of Graphene in developing a Graphene Exploitation Strategy for the UK Aerospace Sector, which we will be publishing shortly.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To never be intimidated, and to remember that everyone around you is just as human as you are. My dad gave me this advice a long time ago. He was an amazing man with lots to offer, he would say “Ruth in difficult moments be respectful, always remember that no one is more, or less, special than you”.
What are your key successes to date?
Pursuing my career in aerospace with no initial aeronautics or engineering background. I am most proud to have been part of the team that shaped the business case for the Aerospace Technology Institute, and formed the Institute that helps the UK be the best it can be through technology exploitation.
My most proud moment, and a real sense of achievement, was when I was honoured with an OBE for my services to the sector, during my time at the KTN.
I have led the industry wide framework agreement that sits between the ATI and every organisation we work with – the agreement really reflects our rigour, transparency, professionalism and consistency in how we work with industry.
Writing my PhD thesis (over 30 years ago now), and those who have written one will truly understand the toil.
Describe your ideal day away from work?
A session at the gym followed by a guilt-free breakfast at Roast, in Borough Market. And then if I could, a trip to the garden centre for some plant buying!
Who inspires you the most?
The list is long, but it all started with Judith Hann, a broadcaster and writer specialising in science, food and the environment. Judith, for over 20 years, presented the BBC’s science programme, Tomorrow’s World – this was my dream job! I always wanted to be like Judith Hann (I even had her perm during the 80s!). And she’s the reason I decided to study chemistry.
What is your golden rule?
Treat people as you wish to be treated, and when you get it wrong, just remember we are all human, and it’s okay to say sorry.