Dawn Childs DBE
Engineer, pilot, and CEO
Dame Dawn Childs DBE (MA Defence & Government, 2008) is an engineer, pilot, and Chief Executive Officer at Pure (a global data centre company).
An accomplished engineer and operator, Dame Childs is known for her dedication to promoting STEM education for young people across the UK and addressing the gender imbalance within the world of engineering. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2023 New Years Honours for services to engineering.
Childs’ engineering career began straight after school, when she joined the RAF to begin a cadetship. Here she made history as the organisation’s first female Senior Engineering Officer (SEngO) on 216 Squadron and the first female Officer Commanding Engineering Wing (OC Eng Wg) at RAF Waddington.
Driven by her own experiences as a woman in a male-dominated field, Dame Childs is passionate about supporting fellow female engineers. As President of the Women’s Engineering Society from 2018 to October 2023 , Childs used this platform to advocate for diversity and encourage more women and girls to pursue engineering. In a 2022 interview, she explained: "When I started advocating for getting more women and girls into engineering, the percentage of women in the profession was just seven per cent. That number has now doubled to 14 per cent, although there is a lot more work still to do."
Childs received the Barrie Smart Memorial Award in 1997, in recognition of her exceptional contribution to the RAF community. Ever the high-flyer, she gained her pilot’s license that same year. After 23 years at the RAF, Childs moved to Gatwick Airport in 2012, where she continued her pioneering streak as the airport’s first female Head of Engineering. As part of this role, she was responsible for all Gatwick’s infrastructure and technical services.
Dame Childs moved to Merlin Entertainments plc in 2016, where she oversaw the infrastructure of over 120 theme parks. During this time, she continued her advocacy work, and spent 18 months working with and mentoring female engineering students at Kingston University (as part of a Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professorship).
Other highlights of Childs’ career include her role as UK Change Director for National Grid. She successfully led the transformation to meet efficiency expectations while delivering to net zero, adding environmental impact to her already ground-breaking career.
Dame Dawn Childs' lifelong commitment to improving access to education and challenging inequity are values she shares with members of our King's community across the world.