New Dstl chief exec appointed

Paul Hollinshead joins from the Defence Nuclear Organisation, "bringing a tremendous amount of experience"

By Tevye Markson

23 Feb 2022

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory has appointed a new chief executive.

Paul Hollinshead has taken over the top job at Dstl, an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence which provides advice, research and support on science and technology for defence and security organisations.

He replaces Doug Umbers, who has been interim chief executive since Gary Aitkenhead resigned in April last year. Umbers has returned to his role as Dstl chief operating officer.

Hollinshead has led complex large science and technology programmes in the defence and civil sector for more than 20 years and joins Dstl  from the Defence Nuclear Organisation, where he was director warhead.

“It is the privilege of a lifetime to be asked to take stewardship of Dstl – the very place I started my career,” said Hollinshead, who started his career at Dstl’s predecessor the Chemical Defence Establishment, Porton Down, as a higher scientific officer 34 years ago.

“Dstl is a world-renowned science and technology organisation and plays a pivotal role in keeping this country safe and prosperous.

“I look forward to working with brilliant Dstl colleagues to ensure the UK benefits from the best scientific advice and technological solutions.”

Dstl chair Adrian Belton said he was delighted to welcome Hollinshead, adding: "He brings a tremendous amount of experience in science and technology across government as well as defence and security that will be invaluable to Dstl at an incredibly exciting time.”

Aitkenhead quit the Ministry of Defence executive agency to return to the private sector.

He is now senior vice president for Europe and the Middle East at global data-centre operator Equinix.

In its recruitment campaign for Aitkenhead’s successor, Dstl offered a £146,000-a-year salary plus a performance bonus worth up to £17,500, with a potential reward package worth more for an “exceptional candidate”.

Dstl is based at Porton Down in Wiltshire. It has more than 4,500 staff, predominantly civil servants who are scientists and engineers, and an annual turnover of “circa £700m”.

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