Waghorn will oversee BAE Systems' engagement with central, devolved and local government in the UK, working with the group’s Air, Maritime and Land and AI businesses.
He will provide political counsel to the board and executive committee, co-ordinate corporate responses to governmental policy, support engagement with trade unions and lead engagement with trade associations and think tanks.
Waghorn joined BAE Systems in 2016 as a director of government relations responsible for external relations and policy, and last year was appointed chief of staff to group chief executive Charles Woodburn.
Waghorn has more than 15 years of experience working in the UK government and Westminster in roles including as a special adviser in the Ministry of Defence. He has also worked as group head of the defence and security practice at Interel.
BAE Systems is the biggest supplier to the Ministry of Defence, and Waghorn takes up his role midway through a government Integrated Defence and Security Review.
Aside from defence, BAE Systems works with government departments including the Cabinet Office, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Trade, and Department for Education. It also recently helped make ventilators and PPE for the Department of Health and Social Care.
“We have a very talented team of people who each have a dedicated area of focus, whether that’s Whitehall, Westminster or beyond, and I’m very excited to be working with a community of practitioners who have an excellent reputation in their own right,” Waghorn said.
“These past few months have shown that we can do a lot remotely and I’m keen to use this opportunity to explore new and different ways to engage our audiences. COVID-19 has brought fresh thinking, new tools and ideas, but as good as technology is, you cannot replace a good, old-fashioned face-to-face, even if that is from two meters away, and the team and I are increasingly moving to in-person meetings and I have no doubt we’ll be doing more of that when the House returns in a few weeks’ time.”
Waghorn’s role also involves nurturing relations with governments in Europe, Middle East and Asia.
He will report to group business development director David Armstrong.
“I am delighted to welcome Oliver to his new role as head of government relations,” Armstrong said. “An effective relationship with government is important for BAE Systems to deliver capability to our armed forces and to support our international partners.
"Oliver brings a wealth of experience from previous roles in both government and industry. I wish him well in his new role and look forward to working with him.”