Founded in 1992, AST specialises in land and maritime satellite communications services, which provide essential technology, communications and software solutions for customers to enable operational efficiencies. The company also has offices in Norwich, Southampton, continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, Ecuador and the USA – employing approximately 180 people worldwide.
With plans to increase headcount worldwide by over 60pc in the next five years, AST has created a new company structure that gives each of its teams a clear identity. The business now has four divisions – AST Asia Pacific, AST Americas, AST EMEA and AST Global Emerging Business – which are supported by the company-wide functions of sales, marketing, HR, operations, software services and technology.
Both the new structure and company objectives were agreed by a number of teams within AST at a conference held in June – as part of its commitment to an open and inclusive company culture.
“We could have sat as a very small senior management team and said these are the objectives, but we didn't,” said Andrew Peters, CEO of the AST Group. “We engaged the rest of the leadership team – and the management teams beneath that – to get involved and work towards collectively-agreed common business goals.
“It’s about getting people to feel empowered by their actions and responsibility. You can only do that by giving them a platform and allowing them to have an input into the future, before setting the course.”
“Inclusivity is a fundamental element for a company such as ours which operates across a number of countries and time zones,” said Louise Hawkins, chief HR officer of the AST Group.
“One of the areas that we are focusing on – and getting positive feedback on – is developing a global ‘OneAST’ culture,” she added. “That means everybody, from Singapore to Australia and America to the UK, understands that they are all working to develop a first-class company, both for customers and employees.
“There is nobody here who has any more or any less value to the business. Everybody is valued for their positive contribution.”
Andrew ensures the management team has regular face time with employees worldwide – in order to promote inclusivity and collaboration across the board. “You have to travel and meet people, but you have to do it regularly,” he said. “You can't just do it once and pay lip service to it.”
Training and development is also embedded in AST’s company culture. The business currently has eight apprentices – with two more joining soon – and in 2021, a number of employees moved into new roles both at home and abroad. All these roles were part of a wider career development process.
To cement the process, AST’s senior and extended management team will start a 12-month training programme from September to work together to develop key leadership skills tailored to AST’s vision of OneAST. The decision to offer the training programme was informed by feedback from a company-wide employee survey.
AST also donates pound-for-pound to support any staff who are fundraising for a registered local or national charity, while a Net Zero employee task force invests time and money to ensure AST plays its part in reducing the effect of harmful carbon emissions wherever it can.
“It sounds obvious, but it is really important that we continue to demonstrate that people are at the heart of everything we do – and we deliver on our commitments to our employees and customers,” said Andrew.
Catherine Jones, technical airtime support adviser, said: “Since joining AST, everyone has been welcoming, friendly and always available to answer questions and offer reassurance. My team leader is approachable, knowledgeable and makes you feel at ease.”
“Every day is a school day,” added Danielle Whichelow, group commercial airtime support team leader. “There is a family atmosphere in the team, and management is very supportive.”
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