Daisy Radford is BAE Systems Head of Operations and Delivery APAC, where she leads a team of programme managers, engineers and software developers in delivering communication intelligence and cyber defence capabilities.
Tell me about your career progression into your current role?
I started my career in accountancy but quickly moved into project management. Although scary at the time, deciding to make the move was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It was only when I found a role I enjoyed, that I started to feel as though I had a career rather than just a job. On gaining this sense of purpose, I went on to build experience by working on multiple complex defence and security projects in many different countries including UK, Middle East and Asia.
What are your thoughts on diversity within the Cyber Security industry?
It’s estimated that only 10-20% of the cyber security workforce are women which is a great shame for women and a great shame for the industry.
For women, it’s a shame because a career in cyber security is guaranteed to be one of purpose, variety and excitement. In addition, the number of disciplines involved in the industry means the range of career paths is vast.
For the industry, you just have to look at how the lack of diversity negatively impacts the bottom line to realise not attracting women is not good for business. On top of losing money though, cyber security is an industry which protects society’s most vital infrastructures, therefore diversity is needed so evolution and innovation happens in the most effective way.
What challenges, if any, do you face working in a very male-dominated industry?
Being the minority in any situation normally causes challenges, but I’ve found that it can also create opportunities. For example, making an impact can be easier as you tend to approach a problem in a different way from how the rest of the team have interpreted it.
That’s certainly not to say that challenges don’t exist. Whether it’s being belittled, left out, or met with suspicion, I don’t know any leading women in male-dominated industries that haven’t had to adopt clever coping strategies in order to progress their careers.
Why has BAE Systems decided to tackle the gender diversity issue?
We’re strongly committed to supporting diversity. We’ve seen first-hand that diversity delivers excellent results both in terms of ways of working and the quality of output.
As a leading engineering organisation, we recognise our responsibility to encourage more women to spend their careers’ in this vital industry. This has led us to encourage more school girls to study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths; support our employees with strong female role models and mentors; and ensure our working environments recognises and supports diversity.
Do you have any advice for leaders who want to create a more diverse and inclusive culture?
The first thing I would say is – it’s not easy! Small differences can make a big impact but to truly create a more diverse and inclusive culture, unconscious biases need to addressed continuously.
The tone needs to be set from the top – behaviours, policies and investment. This tone needs to give confidence to rest of the organisation to foster a working environment where networks aren’t just for those able to drink late into night, where sexist comments are called out, and where succession planning generates a diverse talent pool.