This year at the Farnborough International Airshow, Donna Foster signed the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter – a pledge to demonstrate a commitment to gender equality – on behalf of Thales. Not only was this a significant moment for Thales, but also for Donna.
Tell us a little bit about your role at Thales
I am the Head of Product Line Management for our flight avionics business in the UK. It’s my responsibility to run a team of four product managers, identify potential new products for the market, develop the business case for investments, and manage products through their life cycle.
You signed the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter on behalf of Thales this year. What did this mean to you?
I was very proud to sign the charter on behalf of Thales. The link between the Royal Air Force celebrating 100 years of service and it also being 100 years since women obtained the right to vote made it the perfect time to sign the charter.
Signing the charter was especially important to me because in 1911 my great-grandmother, Nora Armstrong, protested for women’s rights. This was the first of many steps for women’s rights and my great-grandmother is even on the Suffragette Role of Honour.
What inspired you to join Thales?
Thales is a market leading company and when I joined 12 years ago, it was increasingly becoming product focused. I saw joining as a great opportunity to develop my career, apply my skills, and, ultimately, grow my knowledge in the field that I love to work in.
What have been the highlights of your time here so far?
One of my greatest achievements would be my recent promotion to Head of Product Line Management. I’m happy to say that Thales has enabled me to tailor and grow a career to my own life plans. Since having my daughter eight years ago, Thales has supported me in being able to work part-time, which has allowed me to balance my responsibilities at work and at home.
In your opinion how would you sum up the importance of diversity in the work place?
When working in product line management, having new ideas is vital. Diversity and inclusion are crucial aspects of the job as innovation comes from people looking at the world in different ways and coming up with a variety of ideas to solve problems, discover new processes and win new business. Different skills and attitudes make for a more cohesive workforce.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
I hope to pass on my ‘can do’ attitude to my daughter and I believe that signing the charter is just another step in making her future brighter, similar to the steps my great-grandmother took before me.
I feel that working in aerospace and aviation is a very attractive career path for women. The Government continues to support the work that we are doing and we consistently need women for a wide range of roles including pilots, engineers, scientists and more. The sooner that more women understand the exciting opportunities available for them, the better!