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Operations Director


RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises (RAFCTE) is the trading arm of the RAF Charitable Trust (RAFCT), which is best known for staging the renowned Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire each year. RIAT could not take place without the support and commitment of a loyal volunteer force, currently 2,500 strong who bring a wealth of aviation and event management experience. RIAT is the largest military airshow in the world, attended not only by the heads of many of the world's air forces and major suppliers to the sector but also by thousands of aviation enthusiasts. In total, over 150,000 people attend RIAT each year. Profits from the event are the prime source of funding for RAFCT's grant giving activity. These grants support various initiatives. Approximately 70% of funds are allocated to promoting interest in aviation amongst young people and STEM initiatives and 30% supports current serving RAF personnel. Other activities and fund raising events specifically overseen by RAFCTE include the RAF Band autumn concert tour, the publication of souvenir programmes, merchandising, and consultancy services to other air show operators. This financial year, RAFCTE has gifted an unprecedented £1million to its parent, RAFCT.

Background to the Appointment

The current job holder has announced his intention to retire in 2018 and RAFCTE are looking to recruit their successor in sufficient time to facilitate an effective handover. The appointee will work with the Executive team and RAFCTE board and will be responsible for the delivery of all the Ground and Air Operations of RAFCTE's activities along with the associated Emergency Services and Security requirements. This is a critically important appointment, which brings with it, the opportunity to introduce new skills and fresh perspectives to a well-established and effective team.

The Role

Reporting to Andy Armstrong, Chief Executive of RAFCTE, the Operations Director will be responsible for developing and executing an Operations strategy that consistently delivers safe and successful events. As well as operational delivery, the job holder will be expected to actively contribute to the development and execution of the Company's overall vision and strategy, as well as the day-to-day running of the Company. The Operations Director will provide a balance of strategic and hands-on leadership and development of a team of 10, all of whom are highly motivated and committed to RAFCTE's mission. Given the overall size of the permanent staff (40), it is important that candidates are willing to work cross functionally and 'roll their sleeves up' to get the job done.

Key Responsibilities

The role incorporates:-

As a member of the senior management team, actively contribute to overall business planning and policy formulation and implementation

Contribute to the preparation of the company's annual budget

Budget planning and reporting including effective management of all financial matters associated with the directorate

Produce accurate and timely operational information and advice for decision making accordingly at Directors', Board and other meetings.

Communicate effectively at all levels, encouraging an environment of open communication and the building of cross functional relationships

Act as the Company's spokesperson on air and ground operations related issues

Accountable for the safe delivery of the planning, build and takedown phases of Company events.

Conduct reviews and evaluations to identify cost efficiency opportunities

Negotiate best terms with suppliers and contractors

Accountable for the safe delivery of the Air and Ground aviation displays

Act as the Company's focal point for all aviation-related regulatory issues with the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

Accountable for the Emergency Services event planning (Police, Fire, Ambulance, Local Authority, MAA, CAA, RAF etc.) and work closely with all stakeholders involved directly or indirectly with planning and delivery of the events E.G. All Emergency Services, Local Authority Safety Advisory teams, RAF, USAF(Europe), RAF Fairford base personnel, Local community representatives, land owners etc.

Define [and co-ordinate] the Company's requirement for military (USA and UK) personnel and equipment support, [acting as the focal point with HQ Air Command]

Working closely with an in-house health and safety specialist, carry out duties as Chairman of both the health and safety committee and health and safety advisory group

Co-ordinate the activity of Air Tattoo Event Services, the aviation event consultancy arm of RAFCTE.

Train, coach and develop employees, set objectives, give regular feedback and recognition and address performance issues where necessary

Lead a team of volunteers before, during and after RIAT; assisting with recruitment and training; co-ordinating workloads and motivating

[Carry out the duties of Company Secretary including board activities, compliance issues, legal matters and the overseeing of contracts and agreements]


The Operations Director will be required to work closely and collaboratively with all members of the RAFCTE board to deliver continuous improvement across the board. He/she will also interface with a diverse range of external stakeholders including event attendees, the volunteer workforce, suppliers to RAFCTE, manufacturers, sponsors, the population local to Fairford and representatives of the RAF and other air forces.


The Candidate

Educated to degree level or equivalent, candidates will bring senior level managerial experience, gained ideally in an event management and/or the RAF (E.G. Ops Support: Air Traffic, Fighter Controllers, RAF Regiment, Flight Ops, Intelligence and Personnel). Previous experience of working with a charity is not mandatory. The appointee must be able to evidence a successful track record of delivery as well as a creative and innovative approach to problem solving.

The following qualities, experience and attributes will be sought:-

An analytical, strategic and inquisitive mind-set;

Commercially minded with strong financial acumen;

Consistently works within budgets and to agreed timescales;

A collaborative approach and able to work as a team player with evidence of entrepreneurial energy, a 'can do' attitude and a confidence to challenge and think differently;

Intellectual strength and nous to deal quickly with complex issues, articulate strategic plans and represent the organisation to a diverse range of stakeholders;

Thorough understanding and experience of risk management;

High personal and team standards and the ability to engender good team working practices through strong integrity and character;

Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, able to influence and operate effectively at all levels across the organisation;

Seasoned leadership skills with an approach that empowers people whilst also supporting development needs;

Proactively resolves issues and proffers alternative solutions;

Evidence of working within a lean structure coupled with a willingness to 'roll up his or her sleeves' as and when required;

Customer-centric focus with success in orienting an organisation around its customers, establishing effective customer satisfaction and experience management systems;

Solid numerical and analytical skills, able to interpret and present complex information to others in a clear and understandable way and address issues relating to budget and other KPIs;

Headroom to grow and assume greater accountability and a wider remit.

The ability to forge strong working relationships with the Chief Executive, other Directors, NEDs and colleagues to deliver RAFCTE's objectives through a pragmatic, cross-functional approach will be essential. Equally the ability to create and sell in new ideas at board level and to contribute as a board member to the wider RAFCTE agenda will be sought. Also critical will be the fit with RAFCTE's values and culture, and an empathy with the organisation's raison d'etre and service offer.

Candidates must also be willing to embrace the challenges that come from working within the commercial arm of a charity that exists not only to support the wider RAF family through a grant giving programme, but also to promote the professional excellence of the service and widen the appreciation of aviation, particularly to a younger audience.

This is a highly attractive and unusual opportunity for either a senior operations professional from the event industry or former RAF officer. It affords the opportunity to make a mark in a unique and highly respected organisation with further growth potential and a demanding agenda. Whilst the current remit will require a candidate with impressive credentials, the position also affords opportunity for further career progression.


The role will be based at Douglas Bader House, adjacent to RAF Fairford in the heart of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire. The cities of Bath and Cheltenham are close by and the office is commutable from a wide range of locations across Somerset, Avon, Wiltshire and the M4 corridor.

Remuneration & Discretionary Benefits

The position enjoys an attractive remuneration package including base salary, discretionary annual bonus, Company Pension, Childcare Vouchers, Employee Assistance Programme and Private Medical Insurance. The company operates a generous holiday entitlement scheme, with the opportunity to purchase and sell holiday.


“It was an epic spectacle, as magical as anything you've ever seen in the West End, and as loud as anything you've ever heard at Knebworth.”

Jeremy Clarkson, Television Presenter

“All the thrills, excitement and noise of a Grand Prix, but in the air!”

Jenson Button, Formula 1 Racing Driver

“This is the best airshow!”

Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut

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