Getting To Know…Ashley (Ash) Stevenson

Ash is a former serving Air Rank RAF officer and fast jet pilot. Based in the UK, Ash runs the Ocean operations in the EMEA region with a primary focus on developing relationships with new and existing customers throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Tell us about your role at Ocean

As Head of Operations for the EMEA region, I’m primarily focused on developing the commercial relationship between Ocean’s existing customers as well as building new business in the EMEA region. I have only been with Ocean for 7 months so it’s a role that continues to grow and develop as my time here progresses. It’s an exciting time to be with the business and I’m really enjoying working closely with the leadership team to ensure all commercial aspects of customer accounts are well managed.

Before taking on this role permanently, I was contracted as Ocean’s UK Defence Advisor. It was during this tenure that I began to get a greater understanding of the company ethos, something I could really resonate with. The business is now in its 25th year of operation and it continues to commit to delivering products that have a strong focus on the end user. I have been highly impressed seeing how the products have evolved over the years all the while maintaining a strong commitment to its clients and end users.

What’s your story?

My Danish wife and I currently reside 90 miles north of London, in a small but bustling Georgian period town called Stamford.  We split our time between here and Denmark, where we have a second home. We have two children: our son lives in Denmark and is the Social Media Manager for Lego, and our daughter is at university in the UK studying fine art.

As a younger man I served in the RAF as a fast jet pilot, which evokes many extraordinary memories, from operating in the extreme arctic conditions of northern Norway, to aircraft carrier operations throughout the Middle East, and operational conflicts such as in Belize, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and Sierra Leone. Each was exhilarating, awe-inspiring, rewarding, intense and sometimes frightening – often all in a single mission.  My later days, mostly away from the cockpit, were equally memorable for the many rewarding positions I held in command of large training and operational organisations, including as: Commandant of the RAF College; Commander of Kandahar Airbase in Afghanistan; the UK Air Component Commander for the Middle East; and as the Deputy Commander of the Combined Air Operations Centre for NATO’s northern flank of Norway, Denmark, UK, Faroes and Iceland.  All deeply satisfying roles, but it was without doubt the uncrushable spirit, the unspoken camaraderie and trust, and the unswerving loyalty in each and every individual in uniform that would stand out as the single most enduring memory from every one of those experiences.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind?

I lend my support to the RAF as a Volunteer Reserve pilot, providing air experience in the Grob G-115 Tutor to Air Cadets (aged 13 -18) from across the country.  I divide what’s left of my free time between being dragged to the gym by my super-fit wife, playing golf and playing guitar – mostly acoustic blues/folk. I also enjoy watching Rugby Union (up the Leicester Tigers!), motor racing (all types), golf and tennis.

 What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Never share any form of transport with Tom Hanks…think about it: Sully, Apollo 13, Castaway, Captain Philips…!  Seriously, though, I try to abide by the dictum that brevity, clarity and accuracy are the three most important aspects of business communication but, like most, I don’t always get it right.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?

That the Apollo 11 lunar landing module only had an estimated 15 seconds of fuel remaining when it touched down on the Moon’s surface on 20 July 1969.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

Not much. I might think about working harder at school, but I would definitely follow the same career path if I could do it all again – I had a blast!

If you would like to connect with Ash directly, please email him or connect with him on LinkedIn.