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Working in the Defence Enterprise: PA Consulting Group, Kate Rooke

The second blog in our Defence Enterprise blogging series is from Kate Rooke, leading Defence Innovation for PA Consulting Group.

If you have an interesting job in the defence enterprise that you think could inspire others, why not blog about it.

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My organisation

PA started life as a technology company, supporting the production of aircraft (by women) in the Second World War.  It is now a global consulting firm, employing over 2,700 people across multiple sectors, with a core focus on technology and innovation.  I work in the Defence and Security sector in the areas of technology and innovation, where I help bring the best of PA’s knowledge and experience to defence clients.

My job

Variety is one way of describing it!  I work with clients to help them understand their need for innovation and what must happen to make it a reality. Then I help deliver it for them.  We are currently exploring different models with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) that will give them better access to new ideas, companies and concepts, and ensure they can get them into service.  Whilst working at PA, I have also led a team to deliver a new procurement model, used systems engineering to tackle a tricky manpower challenge for the Royal Navy, and developed the rationale for a team to grow headcount whilst the organisational mandate was to reduce.

The best bits…

After 10 years in the Royal Navy I didn’t want to leave defence but I did want to have the opportunity to use all my skills (I had completed an MBA Technology Management) and shape my career.  As a management consultant, I have been given the opportunity and support to grow business in the area I was interested in and the autonomy has been perfect for the way I work I have also met and worked with some brilliant people both from PA and externally and been encouraged to challenge the status quo and develop new ideas.  To be honest, it is exciting and, as corny as it may sound, if you find something you love doing the work bit becomes easy!

And the worst bits…

You can’t have the best without the worst!  I love talking to people and gain a lot more from doing it face-to-face which often means a lot of travel. For example, I was in London for three days last week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. But I live in Bristol.   As a mother of three, this often means I miss bedtimes, school plays. It seems my kids are always going to school in uniform on non-uniform days! I then try to compensate which generally leads to exhaustion and leaves everyone unhappy. I actually cried on the phone to a PA Partner recently – I’m not a crier, but I just had not recognised that I needed a rest and a cup of tea (or gin).

What would I have told 25 year old me…

I have added this bit to the blog as I always think about it.  At 25 I had my first baby and was busy proving to the world that I could still do it all.  There are a couple of pointers that would have definitely made it easier and still will once I master them!

  1. Be gentle.  On those around you and most importantly yourself.  You are learning every day and making mistakes is part of that.

  2. Ask for help.  It is not a sign of weakness.  The best achievements are a team effort and you will be amazed by the strength that support can give you.

  3. Say No.  There is a limit to your time, manage it ruthlessly.  It is better to say no to a job you genuinely can’t do rather than say yes and then inadvertently let people down (I am still pretty poor at this one – apologies to anyone I may have let down!)!)

  4. Be happy and love your job. A happy mummy makes happy children so be proud of that and let the guilt wash over you. What they might miss in terms of being at the right place, at the right time and in the right uniform is compensated above and beyond.

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