Our People

We are a world class military flying training organisation. We have around 200 people employed across a range of functions and this number is due to grow to approximately 320 by 2020. In order to deliver all military flying training pipelines under the UKMFTS programme we have an impressive instructor cadre of ex military and civilian pilots and instructors from all services and flying disciplines.

Our large Courseware Development team combines a mixture of military Subject Matter Experts, experienced civilian and military trainers and courseware & graphic designers. Our acquisition team is predominantly staffed by people with commercial backgrounds. All but two members of our finance and commercial teams have been recruited from the civil sector.

Between us we have over 400,000 flying hours.

Our Training Hub in Bristol supports the sites who conduct military aircrew training at RAF Barkston Heath, RAF Cranwell, RAF Shawbury, RAF Valley, and RNAS Culdrose.

Our Directors

Tim James - Managing Director

Tim James was appointed as the Ascent Managing Director in November 2018. He has overall responsibility for the delivery of all Ascent UKMFTS elements and for the successful integration of these programmes across UKMFTS, utilising the most effective value for money solution. As Ascent MD, Tim shares joint accountability for the delivery of the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) with the MOD Project Team Head for UKMFTS and the Director of Flying Training for RAF 22 Group.

Tim joined us from Lockheed Martin where he was the Business Development Director for Rotary and Mission Systems. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin Tim enjoyed a 16 year Royal Air Force career as a sponsored graduate entrant which involved UK operations on the Tornado F3 and exchange operations on the F-16 with the United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force of Oman.

Lee Ward - Finance Director

Lee joined us in April 2020 as Finance Director from Cavendish Nuclear Limited, and has overall responsibility for the Finance and Governance elements of the business.

Lee brings extensive experience in project, commercial, and business development activity; having spent the last 15 years in senior project finance and Finance Director roles in the Nuclear sector for both Babcock International for VT Group. Prior to this Lee worked in the electricity generation section, leading the finance team for Magnox Electric plc; who were responsible for both operating and decommissioning the first generation of UK Nuclear Power Stations.

Andrew Baker - Commercial Director

Andy was appointed as our Commercial Director in October 2014 and is responsible for supporting our Managing Director and Executive Team in delivering the company’s strategic targets, with specific responsibility for all commercial and legal aspects of the business.

Prior to this, Andy spent 27 years at the Ministry of Defence using his unique blend of engineering, programme/project management, accounting/finance and commercial skills to lead a range of complex defence acquisitions. He has experience of air traffic control and communications systems, flight simulation and armoured vehicle training systems, airship flight trials, and infrastructure projects. In 1998 he discovered the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and spent 10 years as a project manager leading the delivery of a range of defence PFI projects. In 2008 Andy became head of the MOD Private Finance Unit (PFU). More recently, Andy was head of commercial for the Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) procurement.

Stephen Davies - Programmes Director

Stephen is responsible for the successful delivery and integration of all training programmes within Ascent to deliver the training capability for UKMFTS. This role encompasses managing the design, construction and delivery of all the enablers to allow Ascent to bring into service its training delivery operations and for the future change activity to ensure we continue to effectively deliver the future requirements of the MOD. Stephen initially joined us in 2008 and spent 4 years as the Rotary Wing Project Manager. After spending 4 years working on project management and engineering consultancy assignments with Atkins, Stephen returned to Ascent in 2016 as the SDSR Programme Manager. In June 2019 Stephen was appointed as the Programmes Director. As well as his experience gained through the delivery and acquisition process for Ascent to date, Stephen has worked on high profile programmes in the defence environment including Tornado, Typhoon and Morpheus and on commercial aerospace programmes including Airbus wing design and integration programmes. Stephen is a chartered engineer and registered project professional. 

Hayley Vince - HR Director

Hayley has overall responsibility for delivering the HR, and Internal Communications elements for our business. She also heads up and leads the Partnering agenda across UKMFTS.

Hayley was initially seconded from VT in 2007 to help set up the business and then due to her passion for Ascent subsequently become a permanent employee. Prior to this Hayley was Head of HR for VT Land and RAC Software Solutions based out of Coleshill, Midlands and Bristol. This role involved growing the business, supporting the establishment of the ALC defence business and overseeing the due diligence process of VT /Lex Defence. Previous positions have included Employee Relations and HR Manager RAC plc as well as Senior Recruiting Officer at Avon and Somerset Constabulary. Her first role was Training Officer for Centre Parcs when it was set up in Longleat in 1994 .

Andrew Stradling - Communications and Business Development Director

Andrew was appointed as Ascent’s Business Development and Communications Director in December 2017 and is responsible for supporting the Ascent Managing Director and Executive Team in delivering the company’s strategic targets, with specific responsibility for all business development opportunities, ensuring key stakeholder requirements are fully understood and managing the Duty Holder interface across the business.

Prior to this, Andrew spent 19 years in the Royal Air Force as a helicopter pilot and instructor before joining Ascent in 2011. Initially joining the company as an SME in training design, he took on the role as project manager for the Rotary Wing Study before taking over as the Programme Manager for the re-launched Rotary Wing Programme.  He oversaw the project from the early days through the MOD gate approval system, the competition phase to Contract Award and the transition into delivery.

Brian Braid - Operations Director

Brian took over the role of Ascent Operations Director in September 2020. As Operations Director, Brian is accountable for all training conducted at the UKMFTS sites: Royal Air Force College Cranwell, Royal Air Force Valley, Royal Air Force Shawbury and Naval Air Station Culdrose. Training is conducted on the ground and in the air using state of the art facilities, modern simulation and 7 new aircraft fleets and is focussed on delivering the next generation of aircrew for UK defence.

Brian took over the role after 4 years as the Ascent General Manager at Royal Air Force College Cranwell where he was responsible for the training of fixed wing pilots and mission crew. Prior to joining Ascent, Brian had a very successful 25 year career in the Royal Air Force which included operations on the Harrier GR7 and as a flying instructor on the Hawk T1 and T2, as well as operational service overseas within multi-national organisations.

Diversity and Inclusion

At Ascent we value and promote a diverse and inclusive workforce. We recognise that diversity and inclusion creates an innovative, productive, engaged and high performing workplace. We continue to review our diversity and inclusion data and our workplace practices. We are committed to continuously improve and action initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion at Ascent.

Gender Pay Gap Report

As part of our commitment to gender equality in the workplace we have completed and published our FY18/19 Gender Pay Gap Report. We acknowledge one of our challenges in improving our gender demographics is the requirement for candidates applying for certain flying roles to have previous military experience. This is a barrier we continue to overcome through fair and consistent recruitment practices.

Our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion:

  • Our diversity and inclusion targets are incorporated into our organisational strategy.
  • Inclusion is embedded within the One Ascent Team.
  • We use our diversity and inclusion data to inform our actions to deliver the most effective results.
  • We use skill-based assessment tasks and structured interviews for recruitment and promotions to ensure a fair and consistent process.
  • We use Myers Briggs profiles to understand and respect each other’s preferred working style.
  • We promote a flexible workplace through a 9/10 working pattern as well as other informal and formal flexible working patterns.
  • We offer enhanced maternity and paternity pay to help support our people.
  • We have implemented diversity training for Leadership and for all our people including Unconscious Bias and Leading with Credibility training.

Career Opportunities at Ascent