LONDON and WASHINGTON — Next week, BAE Systems is expected to announce Charles Woodburn, chief executive of UK oil services firm Expro Group, as its new chief operating officer to eventually succeed Ian King as the British giant's CEO, a source said Saturday.
Woodburn, 45, was tapped by BAE's board for his international business savvy and the new perspectives he would bring as a commercial executive, but has no defense experience.
With a doctorate in engineering from Cambridge University, Woodburn joined Expro in 2010 after spending 15 years at global energy services titan Schlumberger, including as the head of engineering and manufacturing.
He would become the second top BAE executive from the energy sector. The other is BAE Chairman Sir Roger Carr who came to the defense firm from British Gas.
While the publicly traded BAE is the world's No. 3 defense contractor, according to Defense News Top 100 ranking, with $25.5 billion in 2014 sales, Expro is privately held with $1.4 billion in 2014 sales. The company specializes in oil and gas well flow management.
BAE declined formal comment. Britain's Sky News broke the story Feb. 13.
Last year, BAE began looking for a potential successor to King, its longest-serving CEO who took office in 2008.
In fact, the last time BAE had a COO was when King took the job before succeeding Mike Turner as chief executive.
According to a source, the transition between Woodburn and King would be a long-term effort to ensure the incoming chief learned the intricacies of the global defense business.
The source added that, for the being, the company's senior management team would remain unchanged.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.