Empowering the Next Generation: World Defense Show 2026 Champions Diversity and Future Talent

Feb 12, 2024

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 7: World Defense Show 2026 under the esteemed patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is a stage for two groundbreaking initiatives: the International Women in Defense Program and the Future Talent Program. These programs collectively underscore the event's commitment to diversifying the defense sector and nurturing the next generation of defense professionals.

International Women in Defense Program

Led by Her Royal Highness Ambassador Reema Bandar Al-Saud, the International Women in Defense Program highlighted the crucial role of women in the defense industry. HRH Ambassador Reema Bandar Al-Saud emphasized: “The WDS International Women in Defense Program is a vital step towards engaging, cultivating, and advancing women across the defense sector, in line with Saudi Vision 2030. It’s about recognizing and amplifying the significant roles women play and encouraging this positive change globally. I am proud to be a part of this transformative initiative that highlights the advantages of diversity in defense and accelerates the participation and recognition of women in the industry.”

The event also featured Heidi Grant, Vice President of Defense Global Growth & Engagement at Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS), who was joined by national diversity champions and industry figureheads including Maj Gen Adel Al-Balawi, Head of Armed Forces Education and Training Authority, KSA. 

Amanda Stainer, Chief Commercial Officer at World Defense Show, stated: “Our International Women in Defense Program goes beyond mere recognition. It's about actively shaping a more inclusive future in the defense sector. This program is a practical step towards integrating diverse perspectives and skills, which are crucial for the innovative evolution of our industry. By championing women's involvement, we're not just changing narratives; we're building a stronger, more resilient defense community for the future.”

Future Talent Program

The Future Talent Program sponsored by BAE Systems and General Dynamics, extends beyond the Content Theatres, showcasing opportunities for aspiring defense professionals. This initiative was designed to enlighten and inspire the next generation of defense innovators, demonstrating the sector's dynamic and evolving nature. Exhibitors adapted their stands to align with the day's theme, offering an immersive and interactive experience for young professionals.

In alignment with the Human Capital Strategy for the Military Industries (MIHC), the program plans to host more than 8,000 students.

Andrew Pearcey, Chief Executive Officer, World Defense Show, commented: “The Future Talent Program, alongside the International Women in Defense initiative, represents our dedication to cultivating a diverse and skilled workforce. Investing in youth and promoting gender diversity are not just obligations but essential steps for the continuous evolution of the defense sector.”

As part of the Future Talent Program, Day 5 is set to feature a keynote address by Morhaf bin Mohammed Al-Madani, Assistant Minister of Education for Development & Transformation, Ministry of Education, setting the stage for insightful discussions on the future of human capital in defense. Dr. Alex Walmsley, defense analyst and RUSI Associate Fellow, will moderate a high-level panel on 'The Human Capital Growth Model for Defense’. Additionally, the program will feature a presentation on 'The People Challenge: An Industrial Perspective' by Jason Monahan, VP & General Manager, General Dynamics, offering valuable insights into workforce development from an industry standpoint. 

These initiatives at World Defense Show 2024 set a precedent for inclusivity and innovation in the defense industry. By fostering a diverse talent pool and highlighting the contributions of women, the event has not only celebrated achievements but also paved the way for a more inclusive and dynamic future in defense and security.

For more insights on these programs and future initiatives at World Defense Show, please visit: www.worlddefenseshow.com

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