ALAN DAVIS

Abu Dhabi 2021 | SECURITY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Alan Davis, Chief Executive of Raytheon Emirates, about this year's merger, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and investment in research.

Raytheon Company and United Technologies merged in April, forming one of the world's largest aerospace and defense organizations known as Raytheon Technologies. How will being part of a newly merged Raytheon Technologies impact your business in the UAE?

Raytheon Technologies is a global aerospace and defense company that develops and delivers advanced systems and services for our commercial, military and government customers worldwide. We are now 195,000 employees strong across every region of the world. The milestone merger brings the best scientific know-how and talent to our customers and is set to reshape the global aerospace and defense landscape. Our company invests in technology that strengthens performance of customers' commercial and defense platforms for land, sea, air, space and the connections in between. Also, our global perspective with local focus, helps communities and customers prosper and be more secure and resilient. Together, we develop transformative technologies to make air travel safer and more connected, defense systems smarter to keep our customers ahead of threats, and intelligent space technologies to enable progress for humankind. Raytheon Emirates will continue to work with our UAE customers on four business areas: cybersecurity, effectors, air and missile defense, and enabling technology.

Emirati Women's Day is Aug. 28. Will you elaborate on the role of women in the defense and security industry, and how Raytheon Emirates is working to promote their participation?

Gender parity ensures diversity of thought and is critically important to the future of innovation. Last year, Raytheon Emirates hosted its first Women in Technology panel discussion to celebrate the achievements of women and encourage more young females to pursue technology careers. We will hold the next one virtually in early September.

How did Raytheon Emirates react to the pandemic, and what steps did it take to ensure the safety of employees and the community?

We closely followed the science and health experts to determine what we were faced with in terms of a health risk to our employees and their families, customers, partners and stakeholders. Very quickly, we followed local guidance in the UAE as well as company guidance to implement remote working and have been doing so since mid-March. Where we would normally have less than 5 percent of our employees working from home, it is now in excess of 40 percent. We had to strike a balance between the health and safety of our workforce and their families and continuing operations for our customers in the UAE and globally. From a company perspective, we are pleased with how everyone pulled together. More importantly, we are pleased with our precautions to protect our employees and their families and integrate that into our community. Moreover, we are producing our own hand sanitizers and PPE and have used some of our U.S. and global factories and technologies to produce protective face masks and ventilators in countries that were hard hit by the virus. We have tried to be a good steward of our company and give back to our community, and. we will continue to support healthcare workers, educational institutions and others.

How agile and flexible are you as an organization, and what makes Raytheon Technologies more resilient during this period?

The resilience of a company or nation rests on its core values of trust, respect, accountability, collaboration, and innovation which are all interconnected. An immediate and highly relatable example is remote working. I work from home and must be creative and innovative around how I do my business there when I do not necessarily have all the tools and resources that I had available at an office. More importantly, I do not have the benefit of having all my teammates and colleagues in the same physical space. However, we have the creativity, innovation and trust across our leadership, employees and customers that allow us to execute what is critical. Our IT and digital professionals have been working to ensure we have all the available technology to sustain operations. We moved through it quickly, almost seamlessly. Embedded in our organization is the dedication to create those innovative ideas and solutions that continue to protect the health and safety of our employees while maintaining operations.

How did the focus on cybersecurity become even more important? What measures were taken by your organization to ensure that safety?

The threat continues to evolve, particularly within the cyber landscape, as more organizations and processes move online, and the volume of data expands. This has opened up that environment to all kinds of malicious actors. It has increased risks, though more importantly it has accelerated our defensive measures to protect and secure that data. Raytheon Technologies continues to lead in this space and wants to be a catalyst in that business to protect data. We will never go back to the work environment and workplace we had before COVID-19. As we emerge from this pandemic, we will still see a substantial number of people working from home and continue to have conversations online instead of face-to-face. All that information and technology must be protected and safeguarded., and we continue to look for opportunities and solutions for those customers.

How did this crisis push Raytheon Technologies to invest more in R&D?

Raytheon Technologies has nearly a century of expertise, including more than 50 years of success in the region. A key part of this success has been our ability to keep pace and align our R&D with relevant upcoming threats and subsequent market effects. No one could predict the pandemic, yet we moved fast by accelerating use of our existing technology and finding new derivatives we could adapt to our business.

How have you reprioritized on local human resources?

We take great pride in putting several Emiratis in key positions in Raytheon Emirates, especially given the maturity of our business. In line with the idea of forced acceleration, we had to speed up plans to transfer unique skills and resources here and make them available in the UAE. It has been done internally and we are now looking at planning, manpower, skillsets and demand signals on where we can provide and include those resources going forward.