Ken Smart, executive director of business strategy for British sportscar and supercar company McLaren Automotive, has been announced as the new chair of the Composites Leadership Forum (CLF).
He takes over from Alex Aucken as chair of the group that provides direction to the U.K. composites industry and that brings together businesses, academia and government to drive positive change in a sector increasingly vital to providing solutions to future mobility and transport challenges.
Smart led the project team responsible for establishing the new £50m McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC), which opened late last year in the Sheffield region before he was promoted to his current strategic role on McLaren’s executive team.
Composites and advanced materials such as carbon fiber have long been part of McLaren’s DNA, the company having first introduced the material into Formula 1 in the early 1980s. In addition, all McLaren’s sportscars and supercars will be hybrid by 2024 as part of the company’s Track25 business plan.
Smart has considerable experience and knowledge in the management and delivery of technology, skills and commercial strategy, as well as building relationships with local government.
This experience will be invaluable to CLF in the delivery of the U.K.’s composites strategy.
Prior to joining McLaren, Smart was managing director of three aerospace and defense companies and is a Chartered Engineer and Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
He will now work with the CLF, Composites U.K. (secretariat to the CLF), CLF working groups and industry to build on the work that Aucken started in supporting the U.K. composites sector and helping it to achieve its predicted growth targets.
“It’s a great honor to be appointed as the new chair of the Composites Leadership Forum at such an important moment for the sector. The U.K. automotive industry recognizes the importance of work to reduce overall vehicle weight which, when combined with future powertrains, will be vital to delivering the future mobility solutions needed,” said Smart. “This is an area where the U.K. can develop world-leading, truly innovative solutions applicable for automotive, aerospace and defence applications.”