She joined BAE Systems in October 2014 as a Director of Technical Services and Consulting in the Company’s Shared Services Business. She lead the restructuring of BAES’ Advanced Technology Centres, transferring into Applied Intelligence where she set up the Applied Intelligenc Laboratories.
Her father, a meteorologist, awoke Brooke’s love of STEM subjects from a young age. She showed particular aptitude for maths and languages, but as her education progressed towards her higher qualifications, she decided that a STEM career would afford her more opportunities.
Graduating with a PhD in Physiology from the University of Oxford in 1998, Brooke spent the early part of her career working as a civil servant in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Recruited as a scientist, she found herself working on numerous projects including helping the government to shape its internet policy and then as Private Sercretary to the Secretary of State..
As part of a government initiative, Brooke was seconded to work in the private sector to gain experience in the field. She ended up at engineering firm Raytheon and it was there, where the appeal of projects that gave her greater freedom to operate, that she decided that to leave government work behind.
Brooke first began to appreciate how much the engineering world was dominated by men when she started university. In a course attended by 200 students, only six were female, though she never felt that being a women held her back in terms of her early career opportunities. Occasional misunderstandings aside, where colleagues mistook her her for an assistant as opposed to a qualified scientist, her value to employers was never in question.
Today, her role at Applied Intelligence at BAE Systems sees her run a depeartment of 160 people, all focused on research and development projects. The labs, which she likens to a real life ‘James Bond Q-branch’, work to develop new technologies and innovations in the fields of defence, national security and space.
Brooke firmly believes that good ideas can come from anywhere, and one of the first things she did at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence was to create an ‘Innovation Exchange’ – a platform that allows staff to submit technology ideas to a panel of experts, for the chance to win funding (usually in the region of £20,000) to pursue the idea on behalf of the Company.
“I am a passionate believer that diversity is one of the greatest enablers to innovation. Innovation and creativity really come to life when you bring together people with different experiences and backgrounds. I have been proud to play a leading role in establishing Innovation Exchange enabling innovaiton and collaboration across the Applied Intelligence Organisation. .”
Speaking on the issue of encouraging more women into STEM careers, Brooke noted: “The industry has made some progress in recent years, but there is still, clearly, more to be done. BAE Systems is investing time and money into attracting more women into engineering . I myself have supported the Company’s inititives whereever I can as I think it’s important that women see role models they can aspire to be, and hear senior women talking authentically about the challenges they have experienced.”
“I am delighted to be a part of the Applied Intellgence’s Women’s Network, which allows me to share my experiences in the industry. I also engage in external groups and activities to encourage women into the defence and security industries more generally.”