Game Changer: Anne Healey, Country Director – Canada, BAE Systems

The defence industry has been an essential component of Anne Healey’s life. Hailing from a military family, Anne says she feels she has been part of defence her entire life.

“Entering the defence industry felt familiar, and the people were, in many ways, an extended family of sorts,” says Healey. “It is a community, and like all sectors, it is ultimately about the people.” She explains that having the opportunity to work with many exceptionally bright leaders who have been so generous with their knowledge and time has been the single most important reason why she has progressed in her career.

Anne Healey, Country Director – Canada, BAE Systems

“First and foremost, my father has been an inspiration to me throughout my life, and I have been very fortunate to work with, or to witness, the outstanding leadership of others in the defence community, such as DND Deputy Minister Jody Thomas,” she adds. “There is such a tremendous amount of talented people in our sector to learn from, and I credit them for providing such a high bar to strive for.”

Today, Healey is Country Director for BAE Systems in Canada. She was selected as Vanguard Game Changer for the April/May 2019 issue. Here’s the full interview with her.

What is your role at your organization today?

I am the Country Director for BAE Systems in Canada. That means I support our lines of business who are interested in participating in the market, whether that is through supply chain development, introducing products or services, or transferring exciting R&D initiatives to domestic partners, for example.

What was your most challenging moment?

I can think of a number of challenging moments! I think the important take-away from each of them has been to learn from the experience.

What was your “aha” moment or epiphany that you think will resonate most with our reader? Tell us that story.

We often hear people complain about the amount of internal socialization that is required to successfully implement a desired outcome. I have seen people work extremely hard in preparing or leading a deliverable while neglecting to adequately inform internal stakeholders. This is an integral part of leading a successful program, and that persistent engagement is a core element of stakeholder management. I’ve been fortunate to have my company support me in completing a Master of Complex Project Leadership at the Telfer School of Management at Ottawa University. One of the courses we took was about stakeholders and the importance of recognizing who they are, what their interests may be, and ways to plan and respond to those diversities. It was during this program that an explicit distinction was made between internal and external stakeholders – which was perhaps intuitive, but until it was discussed, I don’t think I fully recognized the importance of this difference.  

What is the one thing that has you most fired up today?

Without question, that is the Canadian Surface Combatant program! We are embarking, together with our prime partners Lockheed Martin and Irving Shipyard, on delivering the next generation of frigates that will create thousands of jobs for Canadians for decades to come. There is also a profound personal connection to this program for me as my father was the Project Manager of the Canadian Patrol Frigates. Today we have a unique opportunity to collaborate with our partners in the UK and Australia to foster export opportunities, de-risk supply materials, and share lessons learned, expertise and resource development.

What is the best advice you received?

The best advice I have received is through witnessing how those I admire consistently conduct themselves. It is really a list of attributes that have become the “advice” I value. Those include always using common sense, logic, and evidence-based reasoning. Treating people with kindness and respect, being generous with your knowledge while always conducting yourself with integrity – these are some of the traits I hold in the highest esteem.

What is a habit that contributes to your success?

Being passionate about what you do. You have to love what you do, intrinsically, to be able to dig in when you need to, think creatively, and have the outcome deeply matter to you.

What people or organizations do you believe best embody the innovation mindset?

I have to say I am continuously amazed by the products, services and developments my company produces and the forward thinking that enables my colleagues to envision the needs of a future state. For example, together with a British University, we have seen a breakthrough on the way UAVs can “grow” in such a rapid manner that they can be tailored to suit a specific requirement and be deployed in a matter of weeks. There are numerous examples of this type of innovative thinking that will address the challenges of tomorrow. I also have to say that I’m an admirer of Elon Musk. He is truly legendary in his ability to navigate complexity, and his successes are changing the world.

How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture and how is it being optimized?

Emerging technologies and the increasing importance of data are rapidly transforming the environment in which our business operates, whilst customers demand pace, flexibility, agility and security against a backdrop of budget pressures.

We have a strategic priority to advance and further leverage our technology, but identifying real business potential and developing the strongest leads ahead of our competitors in a fast-paced sector means we must be agile. Ideas and opportunities emerging today will be critical for our products and services in the future, and so we are committed to seeking out the most important signals from across the worldwide science and technology landscape.

How is your organization changing the game within your industry sector?

We maintain a deep understanding of emerging and game-changing technologies, so we can identify the areas of investment that will ensure we maintain global leadership in military, aerospace, and security capabilities. Partnering with academia and industry, we develop new technologies to support our future product strategies. This enables us to deliver innovative, affordable and effective capabilities to our customers and drive sustainable growth within the business.

In our maritime sector, we integrate advanced technology into our products and use it to enhance and support manufacturing capability, increasing our efficiency and performance. Shipbuilding is a traditional industry, but across all our programs, we look at how we can do things differently, working with our customers to ensure their platforms are fit for the future. Particular areas of interest cut across cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and autonomy, for example.

Author: Marcello Sukhdeo

Marcello is the managing editor of Vanguard, IT in Canada and Canadian Government Executive and the host of Vanguard Radio and WRLWND Radio podcasts. He is an avid technology and security enthusiast, who has worked on content leadership strategies for a number of industries including the public sector, life science, technology and defence.

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