Composite aerostructure manufacturing company has “gender neutral, colour blind” rules, putting focus on individual capabilities

A “colour blind and gender neutral” hiring policy has lead to a decade of growth for Strata Manufacturing.

The composite aerostructures manufacturing company, based in Al Ain, UAE, was established in 2009. Ismeil Ali Abdulla, CEO of Strata, said he knew that the sustainability of the company would be dependent on being able to draw from a skilled pool of talent from the UAE.

He said: “When we started a decade ago in 2019 we understood the importance of having a pipeline of talented individuals ready to join Strata, especially as this is a new industry to the UAE. We have teamed up with Airbus, Boeing, also Lockheed Martin and UAE University to develop dedicated training programmes for technicians as well as for engineers. We believe that the sustainability of our business will depend on a skilled workforce from the UAE.”

53 per cent of female team leaders

Ali Abdulla believes that capability comes first when it comes to developing a workforce. He explained: “We are responsible to ensure that we have the best talent. When we started hiring people we had two basic rules: colour blind and gender neutral, so we go after capabilities.”

These rules have resulted in a workforce where women are empowered – 53 per cent of the company’s team leaders are female. Ali Abdulla added: “I strongly believe in Strata we were able to break the stereotypes, this is a male dominated industry and we are proof and a great example of female empowerment.”

He said there were many benefits for women wanting to join the industry. “Its a very exciting industry, there is a challenge everyday and I encourage to ladies to look at and pursue careers in this industry.”

From one to 13 production lines in a decade

Having started a decade ago with just one production line, the company now has 13 lines. It has formed partnerships with leading aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus, Boeing and Leonardo-Finmeccanica Aero-structures Division as well as being a tier one supplier to Pilatus, FACC AG, SAAB and SABCA.

Ali Abdulla said that all of the widebody aircraft at the Dubai Airshow had parts made in the UAE and the company’s strategy would be to maintain its business in aerostructures but also diversify through creating carbon fibre material for Boeing’s 777X programme.

He identified a change in dynamics in the UAE market with a softening of demand for wide body aircraft. He said there was a trend towards greater efficiency in supply chain partnerships and integration with suppliers. Strata had strengthened ties with Malaysia, Germany and Spain to ensure the company extracted more value from the supply chain and be more competitive.

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