It is always a very sad day when it is announced that someone you have known professionally for very many years, an individual who holds many great qualities and who you have held in very high respect, decides that the time has come to retire. Yesterday, Lockheed Martin announced that its UK CEO Peter Ruddock CB CBE FRAeS is to retire later this year.
While the decision to retire during this year was I suspect long planned, in the knowledge that important companies such as this place much effort on succession planning, suffice for me to say here that Peter Ruddock has not only been a delight for me to know personally but importantly, that he has done an absolutely superb job of work during his ten-year period at Lockheed Martin. During his tenure as CEO, Peter Ruddock has earned enormous respect not only from within the company, from the MOD government customer and RAF but also from Lockheed Martin’s competitors. I am sure that they and all of you reading this and who know him as I do will join me in wishing Peter a very long and happy retirement.
Lockheed Martin simultaneously announced yesterday that Peter Ruddock is to be succeeded as Paul Livingston, a 30 year veteran of the aerospace sector and who as Vice President and Managing Director of Lockheed Martin UK and prior to this, having held a number of senior positions across the global corporation, is very well known across the broad UK defence and aerospace sector and the MOD. Having known Paul Livingston for around twelve years from the period he was a member of the Board of Ascent Flight Training, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin UK and Babcock International, I can only say that I am delighted that Paul will be the next CEO of Lockheed Martin UK and that he is in my view, the perfect choice.
Peter Ruddock joined Lockheed Martin UK in 2011 spending five years as Business Development Director before moving up to become CEO in 2016. Prior to this Peter enjoyed a very distinguished career in the Royal Air Force which he had joined in 1974 and retired from in 2011 with the rank of Air Marshall.
During his Royal Air Force career Peter Ruddock held a number of extremely important positions including having commanded the British equivalent of the ‘Top Gun’ pilot school, driving the UK’s enhanced approach to air defence post 9/11. Of importance is that he secured an impeccable record as an operational commander in both Afghanistan and Iraq and was awarded the US Legion of Merit for ‘outstanding leadership’ on operations.
Having been both OC Ops Wing and later, Station Commander of RAF Coningsby, Peter Ruddock had the honour of displaying the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft based at RAF Coningsby for no fewer than five seasons. His important work at the base during what was a very significant period of change led to him being awarded a CBE in recognition of leadership. Other senior positions held in the Royal Air Force included Assistant Director Defence Intelligence Staff, Air Commodore Defensive Operations No 1 Group, Air Secretary, and between 2006 and 2011, Director-General MODSAP, a very important role based in Saudi Arabia and I might add, where he and I originally met.
During his five-year tenure as chief executive of Lockheed Martin UK Peter Ruddock has been a key contributor to the global aerospace and defence company’s international growth. Not only has Peter Ruddock overseen significant growth for the company in the UK and Continental Europe but important, his tenure in office witnessed the arrival of the first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ‘Lightning’ aircraft for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy along with the build-up of operations in order to achieve Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for land and maritime and indeed, for the revival of UK ‘Carrier Strike’ capability.
An active member of the Board of Ascent Flight Training, a joint venture responsible for delivering top-class aircrew training for 4.5 and 5th generation fast jets such as Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 as well as other front-line fixed wing and rotary aircraft. Peter Ruddock’s hard work, energy, enthusiasm and motivational qualities combined to form what many rightly regard as having been a five-year period of exceptional leadership for Lockheed Martin’s UK business including of course, all the way through the ongoing C-19 pandemic.
It says much for the strength of Lockheed Martin’s leadership team and succession planning that, once again, an internal candidate has been found to succeed the outgoing CEO. Paul Livingston, who will take up the position of LMUK CEO in early April, is currently vice-president and group managing director of Lockheed Martin’s UK’s Rotary and Mission Systems business, based in Havant, Hampshire, a wide and diverse business that includes helicopters, naval systems, un-crewed air systems, cyber solutions, C4ISR, training and logistics and even postal sorting technology for the UK’s Royal Mail and international customers.
As Lockheed Martin UK enters the next phase of its evolution, aligning with the UK government’s technology and prosperity agenda we can expect to see a focus not just on current programmes which are delivering significant economic benefit to the UK but also on new areas such as UK space, directed energy, cyber security and 5G technologies that will support 21st century defence and security operations.
A former engineering apprentice working in civil and military simulation, Shoreham-born Paul Livingston has as already mentioned held a number of important roles across the global corporation. In the process he has established not only a proven record for delivery but also earned considerable respect from customers. As a director in the company’s aeronautics business he was responsible for liaising with the UK MOD for both F-35 and C-130J programmes and, as I remember well at the time, he also led the business capture activity for the previously mentioned Ascent Flight Training,
In 2012, Paul was appointed chief operating officer of Lockheed Martin Commercial Flight Training and following that role, became managing director for Ascent before taking up his current position early 2017.
Those who know Paul Livingston describe him as an internationalist with a proven track record of delivery. Without doubt Paul is a ‘people person’ – one who builds strong and effective teams, enduring relationships and who is also a champion for diversity and inclusion. To this I would add that he also has a sense of humour – an extremely important asset in these extraordinary times.
As to future focus? More of the same along with a strong push to secure new business wins for Lockheed Martin’s UK operations – not just here in the UK but in international markets too.
During his time as chief executive Peter Ruddock successfully grew Lockheed Martin’s position as a trusted partner not only for the UK’s defence and security, but for the national aerospace supply chain and the UK economy too. He will continue to support the company’s UK business activities to ensure a smooth transition until his retirement at the beginning of August. He may not have seen all of his objectives achieved yet but he can retire from Lockheed Martin UK with his head held high and in the knowledge that he passes the batten to someone he knows will continue to drive the company forward.
CHW (London – 2nd February 2021)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785