MA CPhys CEng FInstP FCMI, Chief Executive, Met Office
Penny was an early WISE scholar at GEC Hirst Research Centre in the late 1980s. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge and researched solid oxide fuel cells with British Gas before joining the Ministry of Defence as an armour researcher. She became the UK’s leading expert in Electric Armour before moving to lead research groups on acoustics, hazard prediction and dispersion modelling and materials science. Penny led the Physics Department and then the Cyber Division at Dstl before leaving MOD to become the first female CEO of the UK Met Office in 2018. Penny is a visiting professor in Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton University. She has a particular interest in developing and exploiting new scientific advances and has been a director of Ploughshare Innovations as well as on the board of trustees of the Institute of Physics and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.
The example of a career in government science from being a bench researcher to a senior executive but always focussed on applied research which saves lives. I am keen to give back to WISE as that early opportunity as a scholar was very influential in helping me to understand what the life of a working scientist might be like. I am an expert mentor of STEM workers at all career stages, and I have made a point of dedicating time to outreach to underrepresented groups over decades.
If I could choose one thing it would be to help young women understand how much improvement they can effect in the world and in people’s lives through choosing science as a career. Beyond that it’s about helping people cross the imagination gap from the insecure uncertain people we all start out as to the senior role models WISE ambassadors now represent.« Back to Speakers Page