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.

Liz Narey - Deputy Managing Director, Finance and Governance Director

Liz Narey joined us in April 2016 as Deputy Managing Director from Babcock International and has overall responsibility for the company’s Finance and Governance elements of the Business.

Prior to this, Liz spent 20 years with Babcock International as a senior executive who has worked extensively throughout the group, from Ships to Refuelling aircraft to Tanks, Schools to Heavy Mining Equipment to Helicopters both in the Defence and Civil markets. With extensive commercial, financial and business development experience in different contracting structures including Private Finance Initiative (PFI) as well as the raising of associated funding in both the project and corporate markets. She has sat on a number Babcock joint venture boards, including the Ascent Board from 2010 to 2016, assisting the businesses on the viability of large contracts including structures as well as internally to the parts of the business which deliver the contracts to our customers and/or partners.

Alasdair Shinner - Chief Operating Officer

Alasdair is responsible for the safe and efficient delivery of ground and flying training instruction across all of our flying training units. The role provides the key interface with the customer at one-star level across RAF 22 Group and the MOD, and also provides the senior aircrew interface between the Company and the Customer.

Alasdair served for 18 years in the Royal Air Force as a fast jet pilot and staff officer. He flew Hawk and Tornado F3 as an A2 Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI). He amassed 3500 flying hours and saw operational duty in the Balkans, Falkland Islands and the Gulf.

On leaving the RAF in 2005 he joined BAE Systems and then in 2010 joined us as the General Manager at RAF Valley. Here he was responsible for the delivery of the training pipeline for military QFIs and ab initio students, the squadron headquarters, aircraft hangar, flight simulators, courseware and an Ascent training cadre.

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.

Stuart Bell - Programmes Director

Stuart is responsible for the successful delivery and integration of the committed and uncommitted programmes within Ascent to deliver the capability for UKMFTS. This role encompasses design, construction and delivery of all the enablers to allow Ascent to bring into service its training delivery operations and for the future activity to enable UKMFTS to deliver the requirements of SDSR 2015. Stuart joined us in 2010 as a Commercial Manager and was appointed to the role of Head of Commercial in 2012. In January 2017 Stuart was appointed as the Programmes Director.

As well as his experience gained through the delivery and acquisition process for Ascent to date, Stuart has worked on high profile programmes in the Aerospace environment including Merlin and Lynx Wildcat for the UK MOD and in concert with Lockheed Martin for US Department of Defense Programmes.

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.

Career Opportunities at Ascent