Athena Lecture 2023


12.45: Registration Opens

13.15: Welcome from Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost, Imperial College London

13.25: Lecture delivered by Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer, Rolls-Royce

14.05: Q&A Session chaired by Professor Mary Ryan, Vice Provost, Imperial College London

14.10: Closing remarks by Professor Mary Ryan

14.15: Reception

15.00: Carriages

Taking off to new horizons – how diversity propels aerospace

When it comes to career advice, we are generally told about reaching indispensable milestones, the “must-dos”, the importance of planning one’s exact path and never straying off course. However, it is often the unexpected turns, the diversity of experience, and the inspiration from colleagues with different backgrounds that characterize a more “zigzag” career path and make us grow. – This is what Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer of Rolls-Royce, learned from her career in tech and aerospace.

But diversity of experience not only drives individual growth. Diversity of perspective is also a key strength the aerospace and the tech industry as a whole need to draw on. Because mastering the complex challenges ahead requires different talents, experiences and approaches. So, let’s take off to new horizons, rise to our challenges and meet our goals – on a personal and a global level!


Prior to joining Rolls-Royce in November 2021, she spent almost 20 years at Airbus, covering a broad range of operations from Commercial Aircraft, Defence and Space to Technology and Innovation across the company. She was the first woman to be appointed to the Airbus Executive Committee as CTO.

Grazia has always led transnational and diverse teams. Beyond her expertise in future mobility and sustainable aerospace, she has maintained a forward-thinking interdisciplinary approach, promoting innovation through fields like AI and quantum computing.

Grazia is a member of the Siemens Supervisory Board and the Senate of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. She also serves as advisor at the German Centre for Mobility of the Future (DZM) as well as at the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology of Politecnico di Milano (DAER). Also, she was awarded the honorary Doctor of Science (DSc, Post-Doc) by the renowned Cranfield University (UK).

Born in Italy, Grazia grew up between Milan and the USA. She holds a pilot’s license and graduated in Aeronautical Engineering from the Politecnico di Milano, where she specialized in Aerodynamics

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