Mark Aruja has diverse experience in defence, government, industry and the not-for-profit sector spanning over 40 years, characterized by leading change. His boyhood dreams of flying were fulfilled with a 32 year aviation career in the Canadian Armed Forces ending with a number of senior appointments including Wing Commander.
His first transformational change opportunity came early in his military career during the Cold War, in the arcane business of underwater acoustics, being part of a core team who dramatically changed the Canadian Navy’s approach to underwater warfare. Over the years, leadership on change initiatives varied, including laying the framework for dramatic reductions in air force personnel in the mid-1990s, creating the operational and political context for the Baltic Air Surveillance system and the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He created a number of defence space projects, including what would become Canada’s first operational defence space satellite, Sapphire. Mark closed his career by being selected to be the first Commandant of the Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre where he established the first experimentation program with UAVs, and the start of his engagement with Unmanned Systems Canada.
Mark leveraged his operational and procurement experience in defence during 12 years as a Business Development Manager with Thales, a multinational company in the defence, aerospace and security sectors. He delivered numerous programs crossing a range of technologies to the Canadian Forces and other government customers including the first fleet of UAVs procured by the CF. He also contributed to the government’s review of defence procurement with inputs to key decision papers known as the Jenkins and Emerson reports.
Mr. Aruja’s first participation with USC was in 2003 at the inaugural annual conference, participating as an industrialist. He viewed this association as an invaluable vehicle to bring together the diverse parties necessary to create and realize transformational change opportunities. When he was voted to the Board, he championed the strategic focus of the association on civil and commercial UAS opportunities, now being realized in dramatic fashion. While there is much to be done in this sector, the next true leap for Canadian society promises to be in automated vehicles, where a new leadership team and network will need to be created.
Mark is an engineering graduate of the Royal Military College and has taken numerous courses over the years in aerospace systems, international security and in business management.
Mark became Chair, Emeritus in October of 2019. We thank Mark for his many years of continuous and dedicated service to USC-STC.