Sir Michael Ryan CBE, Vice President and General Manager of Spirit AeroSystems, Belfast, is the Industry Chair of the Aerospace Growth Partnership.
Sir Michael Ryan was born in Belfast in 1959. He graduated from Queen’s University, Belfast in 1981 with an honours degree in aeronautical engineering, and joined Short Brothers the same year.
Prior to and following Bombardier’s acquisition of Shorts in 1989, he held various senior management positions, including in advanced composites production, fabrications and procurement.
In May 2000, he was appointed vice-president and general manager of Bombardier’s Belfast operations, and in July 2017 became President of the Canadian corporation’s aerostructures business. In 2020, he helped manage the Belfast operation’s successful transition to the new ownership of Kansas-based Spirit AeroSystems.
He was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List in 2005, and in 2009 received an Honorary Doctorate from Queen’s University Belfast for services to business and commerce, followed by an Honorary Doctorate in 2015 from Ulster University for service to business and corporate social responsibility. In 2021 he was knighted for his services to the economy.
Sir Michael is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. Married with three children, he enjoys sports, reading and listening to music.
The AGP is co-chaired by Minister Lee Rowley MP from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
Lee Rowley was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 17 September 2021. He was elected the Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire on 8 June 2017.
Balaji was appointed Programme Director of the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP) in November 2018. Balaji is responsible for the day to day operations of the AGP. In his role, Balaji works with the AGP Board, the AGP working groups and the UK Government to support the delivery of AGP’s strategy and its objectives. Balaji also manages the programme managers in secondment from industry to the AGP.
Previously, Balaji was Strategy Manager for the Aerospace Technology Institute, where he led the development of the ATI’s market and supply chain capability, and contributed to the development of the ATI technology strategy. Prior to this, Balaji has worked in various senior consulting roles with IHS Janes and Frost & Sullivan during which he advised clients which included Fortune 500 companies, global aerospace and defence majors, and governments.
Prior to his consulting roles, Balaji was an aerospace engineer and worked for both airlines and design and engineering firms. Balaji is an MBA in Aviation Management from RMIT University, Australia and an Aircraft Engineer.
Chris Saunders, Vice President – Strategy and External Relations for GKN Aerospace is the Chair of the AGP Strategy working group. Through his current and previous roles Chris brings a proven track-record of creating and delivering innovative policies in global businesses and at the centre of national government.
In his current role Chris coordinates GKN Aerospace’s strategy across its business lines as well as leading on overarching strategic priorities, such as sustainability. Chris also manages GKN’s global external relations team. Chris represents the working group on the AGP Board.
Stephen Cowan, is Vice President and General Manager, GKN Aerospace Defence – and GKN Fokker Landing Gear. He joined GKN in January 2017, having completed almost 30 years at Bombardier Aerospace in various Engineering, Operational and Supply Chain roles.
Stephen is responsible for driving Operational Excellence and Best Practice into all of the GKN sites as well as Industry 4.0, H&S & Environment, Gold Operating System & Industrial Strategy to ensure that GKN exceeds both its customer’s and shareholder’s expectations.
Stephen holds an MBA from the University of Ulster and is an active member of the Aerospace Growth Partnership and Chair of the Manufacturing Supply Chain Working Group. Stephen is also a member of the MBA Association of Ireland and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (FCIPS.)
Outside of work Stephen is a keen Cyclist and Squash player.
John England is the Chair of the AGP’s Skills working group. The group focuses on helping deliver the high level skills required by UK Aerospace to secure the UK’s competitive position in the global aerospace market.
Based in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom, John is responsible for the strategic and operational development of Human Resources for the Mechanical Systems business of Collins. A former Managing Director of the Collins Banbury site, John is an experienced change leader and has held leadership positions across various Collins businesses in the UK.
John brings a mix of engineering, operational and people management experience and is passionate about workforce and skills development for the future. John is a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Salford.
Katie is the Head of UK Public Affairs – Helicopters and Civil at Airbus. She joined Airbus in August 2019 and is responsible for the delivery of the public affairs strategy for its helicopter and civil air transport businesses.
Prior to joining Airbus Katie worked for Rolls-Royce in the Government Relations function since 2011, based in the corporate headquarters in London. In her role she managed Rolls-Royce’s engagement with officials and Parliamentarians in Whitehall and Westminster and lead on aerospace, industrial strategy, energy and environment and skills policy areas.
She is the current Chair of the Aerospace Growth Partnership Engagement Working Group and former Chair of the Sustainable Aviation Communications Group. Katie is also supporting the work of the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter.
Katie also previously headed up a Parliamentary monitoring team of consultants, worked in the public sector at the Skills Funding Agency and for a multi-national corporation in corporate affairs. She has a Bachelors degree from the University of Warwick and a Masters degree in Legal and Political Theory from UCL.