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Frances Saunders

Chief Executive, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)
Country of birth: UK
Country of residence: UK

Educational background: BSc and PhD in physics, Nottingham University, UK

Frances SaundersA typical work day.
I am responsible for running Dstl, which is the UK Ministry of Defence's in-house source of science and technology research and support. In this role we develop solutions to today's and tomorrow's most diffi cult and challenging defense and security problems.

My job is to develop the future strategy for Dstl and then make it happen. I make sure that we always deliver our work to the highest standards while creating a great working environment for our 3,500 scientists and engineers. I regularly ask the question: "What will Dstl be famous for in the future?"

A lot of what I do day to day is communication with our customers, our technical people, and our managers. I act as a coach and a mentor to some of our staff, to pass on my knowledge and help them develop their skills and careers. Although I no longer do technical work myself, I try to spend some time each week keeping in touch with the latest thinking in science and defense.

What I enjoy most.
Having the opportunity to work with such a wide variety of people in universities, industry, government organizations, and international partners. There is so often a meeting of minds among the scientifi c community, even when we may have come from rather different starting points.

Words of wisdom.
Don't expect the best scientists to always be the best leaders or managers. There is obviously an ego thing to be addressed, but I have found it is often a waste of talent to make your best scientists manage and develop the teams with which they work. Creating a culture that values the unique contributions of the best scientifi c brains and the best motivational managers is something I continue to work at.