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Meet Our Team in Defence

Meet our team and find out what it is like to work with Serco in the defence industry.

Amanda Price - Account Director for Space & Security

Amanda Price is A self-described ‘rare beast’ in being both a woman and a senior leader in the Space & Defence industry, and a Chartered Engineer. Amanda’s enjoyment of her career in Space at Serco is assisted by her elderly cat, who wakes her without fail at precisely 02:58 every morning wanting to go outside. “We installed a cat flap for him last year, but I guess old cats don’t learn new tricks either and he interprets darkness as the cat flap being closed and wants human intervention and company."

Strolling outside in her garden in the dark has given Amanda the opportunity to see not only the beauty of the night sky and the starry display on offer, but “sometimes I’ve seen the ISS and once I was startled to see a very clear and very fast-moving train of close lights, which I realised afterwards was some of the Starlink constellation."

Reflecting on her work, Amanda says “If I thought working in Defence was fascinating, Space is awesome! People often think about space as a mysterious place of nothingness, but often it’s more like the M25 at rush hour. I’m lucky to be part of a Serco Global Space team which, among other things, maintains and operates the ballistic early warning radar while tracking over 3,000 space objects every day. I love the variety of my job which can include meeting with the Minister for Space; conducting technical solution reviews; writing papers for the House of Lords Risk Select Committee; or talking to students who are about to embark on their careers."

Amanda is a strong advocate for encouraging women to join the historically male dominated fields of defence and engineering; “both my dad and grandad were engineers, so it was a natural step for me. But when I started my electrical and electronic degree back in 1990, only 10% of my class were women and sadly it hasn’t changed much since then.”

Speaking in a recent interview for SpaceCareers.uk, a project of UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS), Amanda was asked what her advice to young girls would be who are thinking of a career in the space sector; “a key thing would be to find a buddy, reach out for a mentor…Having a senior mentor or even better a sponsor also helps as they can make introductions for you and flag opportunities you might not be aware of."

Taking her own advice to heart, Amanda supports women in the defence industry by volunteering as a mentor to empower and help them to achieve their ambitions; “time thinking about yourself and your personal career is really helpful – we bounce ideas off each other about some experiences and issues we are dealing with so I get just as much out of it as my mentee!"

Amanda’s cat, Taffy, also happens to be passionate about supporting women in defence and joined in with Serco’s celebration of International Women’s Day. (See photo above).

Paul McCarter – Managing Director for Defence

Today he sits at The helm of our Defence business, but Paul McCarter’s life before Serco included a career in the army. However, Paul’s military chapter came to an end very suddenly due to a severe parachuting accident whilst doing jumps from 12,000 ft. It was during this exercise that strong winds blew him away from the safe landing zone and, as he came into land, the wind collapsed one side of his parachute and flipped him into the ground. This left Paul with multiple injuries and fractures down the left-hand side of his body and resulted in an induced coma, needing to undergo many operations, and leaving him in a wheelchair for about a year.

Today, Paul very fortunately considers himself reasonably mobile, but he still lives with multiple pieces of metal in his body from the surgery to repair his injuries and suffers with the related pain. Those that know him well are aware that he lives with the ongoing pain with stoic good grace, but his experiences and private battle have left him very mindful of people who live with hidden injuries and disability which has influenced his leadership style; “I am conscious that everyone has their own personal experiences – you never really know somebody’s story."

Talking about his experience working at Serco and the support he has received, Paul says “Serco is populated with an immensely fantastic group of human beings. Trust, Care, Innovation and Pride are not just our corporate values, it’s how our people live their lives. You don’t need to teach it, it’s what we all do on a daily basis.”

Our values are demonstrated in how we deliver our day-to-day job and also in how we support one another. Here at Serco, we are proud to have an employee network called the ‘Inclusion Hub’ and as part of this, our ‘Serco Unlimited’ forum provides support to our people living with disabilities, health conditions and impairments, while raising awareness of visible and nonvisible conditions. Paul’s story is just one example of the importance we place on ensuring everyone is recognised for their performance and potential.

As Managing Director, Paul works with over 4,000 people across Space, Maritime, Aviation, and Land; “I’m extremely proud to work alongside all of the people in Serco serving in the military and working in the government sector. Serco has an outstanding calibre of employees, a lot of whom are ex-services, with a great work ethic and a continued desire to serve their country."

Paul joined the military because he wanted to make a difference in the world – and that continues to be a driver for him today. He feels a great sense of pride in his work as part of Serco Defence, and his experiences as part of the army as well as his accident and continued recovery, are all valued and considered strengths in his role.

We recognise the value that veterans and reservists contribute to our country and our business and we are proud signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant, committed to being an Armed Forces Friendly company. Find out more on our Armed Forces Covenant page.

 

Salli Shapcott - FPMS Contract Director in Maritime

Salli Shapcott is responsible for ensuring that our highly specialised teams deliver safe, secure and mission critical maritime services to the Royal Navy. But that’s not all. Since Salli joined Serco in 2005, her career has flourished through a series of roles, moving into operational leadership in 2019, all while starting and raising a family.

How has your progress been supported, both in and outside of Serco?

I was able to change role and location after maternity leave and with a phased return – gradually working back up to full time. That flexibility comes from recognition that outcomes are more important than traditional management approaches. Serco has also invested in me with significant leadership training. All of this has further strengthened my commitment to Serco, helping me to progress and, I hope, become a role model for other women.

How did you approach maternity leave?

I made sure I was seen to be a valuable, professional employee – before and after I’d worked hard to get the Head of Finance role at the Serco-operated National Physical Laboratory and continued giving it total commitment until my maternity leave began. I’d also built a strong network of colleagues across Serco, and those links proved invaluable on my return – opening the door to new opportunities.

When I returned, I was three months pregnant with my second child. Again, I worked extremely hard – balancing my new role with being a new and pregnant mother. I never felt left behind in terms of career progression. The key was being open-minded, up for a new challenge and striving always to earn the support on offer.

What does it take to achieve the right work-life balance?

I don’t believe in work-life balance. It’s all part of life and you make your choices. Everyone’s ‘balance’ is different. I want to be the best mother I can be, but also the strongest performer at work. Having children doesn’t preclude fierce ambition. So, where Serco gives me flexibility, I give them commitment and hard work.

It’s not easy. I’m constantly assessing my priorities and making tough decisions. Leaving work early for school commitments is hard – I respect that decision in anyone. But for me, it means working late nights and early mornings in return. I might be at my desk from 7am-3pm, not from 3pm-6pm and again from 7pm-11pm. Not a hardship when you love what you do.

What recommendations would you make to colleagues and employers?

Everyone is different and we all make different choices. Supporting all of that can get the best out of people. Companies who offer work-life flexibility to men and women are supporting gender diversity, because for every father at the school gates, there might be a mother who can make that important call or meet that critical deadline.

And your advice to the next generation?

Keep the conversation going. As an Enterprise Advisor for the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), I not only provide strategic careers support to the senior management team of a local school but also try to spend time where I can with students to help them prepare for their future career. The next generation is utterly inspiring and are developing different expectations and aspirations; gender diversity is part of that debate. My advice to them is, don’t think about roles in gender terms – everything is up for grabs. Women should be confident in what they bring to the table. Being genuine and authentic are two of the most important leadership traits. Trust that you can add value – it will keep you heading in the right direction.

Rosie Walker - Aeronautical Engineering Apprentice

Rosie Walker completed her Aeronautical Engineer (Mechanical) apprenticeship in 2021 and it has given her invaluable knowledge and experience of working in an aircraft environment.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship? 

I chose an apprenticeship because it provided an excellent, hands-on training opportunity at an entry level position. As I was unable to join the armed forces, and living in Cornwall, this apprenticeship meant that I would have the opportunity to gain qualifications in the aviation sector. 

What are your career plans following this apprenticeship?  

I will spend time as a fitter’s mate for Serco at Culdrose. As a fitter’s mate, I will be given a task book to complete before becoming a fitter and undertaking a return to service scheme for Serco. If the opportunity arises, I would like to gain my aircraft licenses. 

Click here for the full case study on Rosie Walker