John Weston CBE (S 62-69) spent the afternoon at King’s on Tuesday this week, talking with a number of students who were interested to hear about his wealth of experience in industry. On leaving King’s John went to Cambridge to study Aerospace Engineering and after a Masters in Engineering from Trinity College, he started as an undergraduate apprentice in what later became British Aerospace and now BAE Systems. He worked for BAE for over 30 years, ultimately becoming Chief Executive of the company in 1998. John subsequently held various Chairman roles for a number of companies, ranging from the design and manufacture of optic fibres to one that designs technology to reduce Co2 emissions in vehicles.
Over lunch, John met Head of School, Hamish Stigant and also other Upper Sixth students: Mark Salkeld, one of our aspiring engineers as well as Ellie Driver and Liberty Colebourne, both of whom are Arkwright scholars, who have set up an Engineering Club for girls at King’s. They were joined by Acting Headmaster, Jon Ricketts (Hon OV), Assistant Head, Katie Beever (Hon OV) and Development Director Liz Elliott and there was an interesting discussion over the course on lunch when John talked about some of the engineering concepts related to Concord, including thermal expansion which meant at Mach 2 at 60,000 feet the aircraft was longer by about 8-10 inches. He explained that Concord was only able to fly at Mach 2 over water because of the effects of dropping the sonic boom over land or populated areas.
After lunch, John held a Careers talk with a packed room of pupils, talking about his time at King’s and the confidence inspired in him whilst at School, which helped him throughout his career. When asked what advice he would give his 16 year old self, John told the pupils never to worry about asking what might appear as a dumb question. There followed a stimulating discussion with some 30 Upper Sixth students, a number of whom are looking to apply to Oxbridge, where questions ranged from “Do you think Europe should do more to co-operate on matters of defence?” to “How do you envisage the future of the British Aerospace industry?” and also included questions about gender diversity in engineering and the impact on climate change of the aerospace industry.
We are very grateful to John both for the time that he spent with the students at King’s this week and also for his very generous support of an enduring bursary place at King’s.