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Dave Underwood

By January 1, 2021April 28th, 2021EXIST


 Three current roles:

1. The first is as a non executive independent advisor to the RD&E NHS Foundation Trust My Care programme.  This exciting clinically led transformation programme aims to transform the delivery of health care for all patients and staff either in or served by the RD&E Trust.  The MyCare programme is enabled by the introduction of a new electronic patient records system which marks the largest single investment in healthcare made by the RD&E Foundation Trust. My role at the RD&E is to provide independent advice to the directors leading the MyCare Programme and independent assurance to the RD&E Trust Board on the conduct, delivery and successful exploitation of the programme.

2. I am in my seventh (and penultimate) year as a governor at Exeter College where I serve on both the Quality & Standards and Audit Committees as well as on the main College Board.  Exeter College is an outstanding Further Education provider.  Throughout my time on the board I have been particularly passionate about the development of the science, technology and digital offerings of the college and helping ensure that they continue to meet the needs of the rapidly developing STEMM business community in Exeter and the surrounding region.

3. Finally, of course, I have my role as sponsorship lead for ExIST.  I was one of the founder members of the initiative and some eight years later remain both excited by and committed to building and promoting Exeter city and region as a globally recognised, inclusive and vibrant environment in which to undertake STEMM business. ExIST is at an exciting time and I am really enjoying the opportunity to further build our activities and events working with Greater Exeter’s SMEs and STEMM organisations.


I graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in Maths in 1984 and in 1985 graduated from Strathclyde University with an MSc in Operational Research (the application of maths and stats to solving problems).

 First Job:

My first job after university was as an operational research analyst with the Civil Aviation Authority – based in Central London.  Specialising in Airport and Airspace Capacity I found myself regularly conducting research studies at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester airports and at the now defunct London Air Traffic Control Centre then located at West Drayton.  For someone with a passion for aviation my early career studying airport and airspace operations provided plenty of opportunities for air travel and plane spotting all as part of my job.

Career History:

Over the course of my time at the CAA I moved from research analyst to leading scientist and then to research programme manager and finally in the early 1990s to business development manager responsible for bringing in external funding from the EU and other sources to support the conduct of world leading Air Traffic Management Research in the UK.

In 1998 I left the CAA to join the Met Office (then based in Bracknell) as their head of civil aviation business. In this role I was responsible for reform of the Met Office aviation business, I moved to Exeter in 2003, with my wife and three daughters, when the Met Office relocated.  Between then and 2018 I undertook a further seven roles at the Met Office, finally becoming the deputy director of High Performance Computing.

 A Career Highlight:

It was during this last role that I had the privilege of leading the development and successful delivery of the Met Office High Performance computing programme that in 2016 put Exeter on the global map as the home of the then sixth largest supercomputer in the world.

In delivering the programme I also helped establish the Met Office HPC complex located at Exeter Science Park and now the home of both the Met Office Informatics Laboratory and the Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab.  The Impact lab is a world leading collaboration and partnership formed between University of Exeter, Exeter City Futures, the Met Office, the University of Plymouth, Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Rothamsted Research.

Why did you choose a career in STEMM?

 I am by nature a curious person, I like to understand how things and the world around me works.  My training in Maths, Physics and Operational Research have equipped me with a set of skills and knowledge that, like all STEMM subjects, help me investigate and hopefully in time to understand how things work and sometimes how to help them work better.

My curiosity, my STEMM skills and knowledge have, and I trust and hope will, continue to provide me with the means to live, explore and enjoy a fulfilling life in an increasingly complex and sometimes chaotic, but never dull world!

Any advice for the next generation?

If a young person feels curious and passionate about the world around them and wants to understand it better, then I can think of no better career to follow than one in the STEMM family.