Sarah Beardsley

Dr Sarah Beardsley is the Head of Space Engineering and Technology in the RAL Space Department of STFC, part of the UK Research and Innovation organisation.

She heads up a team of 60 engineers and technical project managers who design, build and test scientific instrumentation to go into space, furthering the understanding of our Earth and our place in the universe.

Sarah began her career as a planetary scientist, holding fellowships through Research Councils and the Royal Society. She has represented her scientific community on several national and international committees and working groups, elected by her peers to work with the Royal Astronomical Society and European Space Agency in particular.

More recently she has developed her career as a senior project manager and leader of groups of engineers, culminating in her current role as Division Head. She has overseen the recruitment of almost 70 people in the last 5 years and developed a collaborative style of leadership, demonstrating empathy and a culture of inclusion within her Division that is well respected. She leads by example – for example Sarah was one of the first in her organisation to share her maternity leave with her husband – long before it became a statutory right; she continues to work flexibly to accommodate caring duties, and is highly supportive of requests to work part-time and flexibly by members of her team. She is a member of the Graduate Training Panel within her organisation and is passionate about development of talent that secures the future of science and engineering in the UK. She regularly gives inspiring talks to encourage the younger generation, both female and male, into STEM fields.

The key highlight that Sarah draws out of her career is that against a national average of around 12-13% of females making up the workforce in the engineering and technical management domain, she currently has a massive 40% of females making up her staff, something of which she is very proud.