Nick Lilley, former British Army and RAF pilot behind innovative new aviation consultancy, has been shortlisted in prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year category at British Ex-Forces in Business Awards. Lilley is director of award-winning new venture Upturn, which is driving innovation in change management, program management and continuing airworthiness services for the defence and specialist government sectors and for commercial air transport, business jets, aerial work providers and flying schools.
Lilley was shortlisted for the prestigious award having been the driving force behind the successful launch and growth of Upturn, which he co-founded with his business partner Dave McCormick in early 2016.
Lilley first saw the opportunity to build a new kind of consultancy while working in previous roles as a consultant program manager. During this time he had become increasingly frustrated by seeing businesses prioritise profits over customer and employee satisfaction.
Lilley’s ambition was to start a venture that would stand out in the marketplace with a results driven culture that placed client satisfaction, successful implementation and value for money at the heart of its business model. This would include attracting and incentivising world class talent in order to deliver innovation and success, while offering a unique ‘intelligent workforce’ system that is flexible and responsive to clients’ needs.
Three years on, Upturn has placed over twenty associates, providing consultancy, program management and continuing airworthiness services to high-profile clients including Raytheon UK, Cobham Aviation Services and Flybe.
Key achievements include being appointed by a leading defence ISTAR company to support their involvement in an expanding sector, integrating a commercial procurement model that delivered enhanced availability and capability to the front line; delivering a multi-departmental transformation program to optimise a regional airline for a changing market in a regulated environment; and supporting the defence nuclear industry as a leading part of a successful team delivering the most complex engineering program in Europe. It has been recognised by the European Continuing Airworthiness Award sponsored by EASA and the UK CAA.
Lilley continues to drive business development into new markets with energy and vision. Currently this includes expanding into delivery of aviation-tailored mental health support to the civil aviation industry and providing support services in the rapidly growing arena of unmanned aircraft systems.
Lilley’s wealth of experience is drawn from his years as a pilot in the British Armed Forces, first flying helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft in the Army Air Corps, supporting live operations, and then, in the RAF, leading and providing strategic support to operational theatres. Before retiring from the RAF, Lilley took a role leading program and capability management for the MoD. This gave him headquarters-level insight into the need for focussed support to the front-line that delivers for servicemen and women, and offers value for money to the government.
“It can be scary when you leave the military but when you do make the jump, do it knowing that the plethora of skills and talents you have built up through your service experience really do count. I am truly humbled by the nomination and by the recognition of what we are doing at Upturn. Onwards,” said Lilley