Sir Simon, Chief Executive of Defence Equipment and Support, was speaking as he addressed around 130 people at the latest meeting of the Cardiff Business Club.
In a lecture given before the dinner, sponsored by the Reserves’ and Cadets’ Association (RFCA) for Wales, Sir Simon (below left) gave a fascinating insight into procurement, managing safety, risk and environmental issues and how he and his team represents UK interests in the international military and political arenas.
“Wales should be proud of its contribution towards the Defence agenda. Wales is a leader in intelligence and surveillance,” said Sir Simon as he spoke of how we were entering an era where co-operation was paramount and working together was key.
“The Defence market once led the development of technology and the commercial sector made use of those advancements. This is now the other way around,” he said.
“We need to make our market more accessible. We need to work out how we can bring in more innovative and creative commercial investments to benefit us. Investment in technology does come at a risk, but you need to get something in service and build on it incrementally. We need to continually innovate in order to deliver on our policy objectives.
“Brexit may well free up some polices that have hindered us, but the UK has always been a leader in international programs that benefit the military,” he said, adding that “Defence benefits from Wales just as Wales benefits from Defence.”
Sir Simon, who was speaking at the Cardiff Business Club event, held on Monday, March 9, at the Swalec Stadium, Sophia Gardens, was appointed Chief Executive of DE&S in May 2018.
His appointment followed 35 years service in the RAF as an engineering officer, with his last appointment being Chief of Material (Air) in Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and RAF Chief Engineer on the Air Force Board. During his service career he served in a variety of operational and staff appointments, with the last 15 years focused on acquisition and support delivery.
A toast of thanks was proposed to him at the end of the evening by Colonel Nick Beard, Chief Executive of the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (RFCA) for Wales.
Colonel Beard said, “The Armed Forces in the UK enjoy a reputation as being the very best across the world. However, this depends on a raft of factors and most importantly it involves a huge commitment by a professional defence acquisition organisation that has the expertise, experience, professionalism and capability.
“Tonight, we have heard from the very top of the Defence’s supply chain how Defence Equipment and Support provides a vast range of equipment to UK’s Armed Forces and deals with a multi-billion pound budget and a very complex programme.
“Sir Simon Bollom has given us the insight into some of the challenges that are on our doorstep, and certainly made us think about the difficult times and decisions that the Head of the principal procurement organisation for Defence has to address.”
The Cardiff Business Club was established in 1912 and is now the largest event of its kind in Wales, hosting several world-class speakers throughout the year. It provides members and organisations with opportunities to share inspiration and connect with decision makers across the private, public and charitable sectors.
Pictures courtesy of Richard Bosworth