A £5.3m contract to help train the Royal Air Force’s leaders of tomorrow has been won by Portsmouth Business School, in partnership with Cranfield University.
Over the next five to seven years, leadership and management experts from both universities with specialist knowledge of the military will develop the abilities of 3,700 RAF personnel a year as part of both initial officer training and senior officer development. Training will focus on international security and defence leadership, in collaboration with the RAF’s own in-house training programme.
A unique element will be a senior officers’ programme for the thousands of senior officers not selected for elite roles. These officers will now be exposed to private enterprise thinking to reinvigorate the middle management of the RAF.
The training programme has been co-ordinated by Nick Capon of University of Portsmouth Business School supported by Sylvie Jackson of Cranfield School of Defence and Security. University of Portsmouth has 20 years’ respected track record providing research and leadership education for the MoD. Cranfield have a similar track record in management and technology for the Defence Academy, UK.
Business School Dean Professor Gioia Pescetto said: “The RAF is looking for people who can think flexibly and laterally and they are prepared to invest in developing those qualities. Better leaders and better technology are all part of one goal – to be a leaner and effective defence system.
“We have respect for what the RAF does and is aiming to do and we fully expect this to be a real partnership. We know that we will learn a lot from them as well. Working closely with organisations from outside the University informs and improves all we do, from research to teaching.”
Director of Cranfield’s Centre for Defence Management and Leadership Dr Sylvie Jackson said: “We are delighted to be part of the successful bid and look forward to working with the RAF over the coming years – our strengths in air power, contemporary security studies, leadership and technology can only be developed further by this partnership.
“This is a unique and very special opportunity at a time of considerable changes in global security.”
Air Commodore David Stubbs, Commandant of the Royal Airforce College Cranwell and Director of Recruitment and Initial Training (RAF) said: “That we let this contract at a time of significant fiscal constraint shows the Royal Air Force’s commitment to developing our people to be among the best leaders of their generation – Portsmouth Business School and Cranfield Defence and Security were worthy winners in the face of some stiff competition.
“Our new academic partners will also be asked to join forces with the RAF’s Air Warfare Centre where RAF Senior officers will return to RAF Cranwell at a later career stage for further immersion into academia – this time at Masters level – through the Senior Officer Study Programme. Here they will be challenged to bring their wealth of experience back to the academic environment in order to thrash out the big issues surrounding the future of national and international Defence and Air Power, thus institutionalising the culture of strategic thinking that is called for by today’s ever more complex military-political landscape.”
Portsmouth Business School’s experts in leadership will work with politics and military history researchers in Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences co-ordinated by Malcolm Kaill and experts in military strategy and air power from Cranfield School of Defence and Security to deliver the training and research. A core of six to eight military experts will lead the course and draw in a team of 34 others with specialist leadership knowledge in other areas.