Norman Bone, Leonardo, on simplification, cybersecurity and aerospace’s biggest challenge

We recently caught up with Norman Bone, Chairman & Managing Director, Leonardo UK, to discuss a number of industry issues, from strategy and technology to people.

In January this year, Leonardo UK amalgamated all its UK operations into a single entity, Leonardo MW Ltd. Norman Bone, Chairman & Managing Director, Leonardo UK, told us more about the benefits of this streamlining  to provide a “single voice to the customer”.

He said: “We were confusing [customers], we were confusing ourselves.” The company is now “looking like and acting like a single company” and this offers benefits both internally and when it comes to partnering.

Cybersecurity

Another area Bone discussed was cybersecurity. In traditional cybersecurity, Leonardo partners with NATO to deliver the NCIRC programme. However, he also noted the need for a move into electronic warfare, saying: “We’ve got to protect electronics on an aircraft, on a helicopter, on any platform…those electronics are just as susceptible to attack as your home computer. So we have to protect them but we also have to use them to deliver a cyber effect.”

He added: “We are now working with major entities…on how we think about delivering a ‘cyber effect’ from our electronics, not just protecting.”

People power

Leonardo is clearly doing interesting things with technology but like all aerospace companies, it faces the challenge of attracting the right talent and people.

Bone said: “That is about the hardest thing we have to face. We have got to upskill the UK. We have to make people proud to be an engineer again.

“If you’re an engineer in Germany, you’re called an engineer and people wear it as a badge of pride. In Italy it’s your social status…In the UK, engineer doesn’t mean as much and we’ve got to get that prestige back into the title.”

He concluded that we need to engage young people with “hard science” more and make it interesting and relevant for them.

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