The second in our series of blogs from 2016 Women in Defence Awards winners comes from Amelia Gould, who writes about collaboration in defence.
Amelia’s career began in the Royal Navy (RN) as a Weapons Engineering Officer. Her 11 years of service included leading an engineering team on-board HMS ARK ROYAL during the war in Iraq in 2003. She also spent time in Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) supporting warship command systems, and testing and accepting new hardware and software on behalf of the RN.
She then spent five years as an Information Technology consultant and Business Analyst working with public sector organisations. In 2013 she joined BAE Systems in a role managing the integration of new combat system equipment as part of the Type 23 Frigate class’ midlife update programme. Following that she moved into a role to deliver the design management arrangements for a major warship support transformation programme. Last year Amelia took up her present role as Head of Engineering at BAE Systems Naval Ships’ Combat Systems programme.
What is your understanding of Collaboration in defence?
I think the defence industry collaborates very well. We often work together either as several defence companies working together to pool knowledge and capabilities and achieve a great result, or with our primary customer the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to make sure we deliver the outcome they need.
Collaboration is also about appreciating diversity and valuing the contributions each individual can bring to a team. Sharing knowledge and ideas through collaboration leads to better and more creative outcomes, as well as increasing productivity. These are all Important benefits in defence where budgets are often tightly constrained and time is critical.
What has your experience been of Collaboration in defence?
I have seen some great examples of collaboration in defence at all levels, one in particular stands out; the RN’s Unmanned Warrior event last year. It was a brilliant event in which industry demonstrated all the exciting work being carried out around maritime autonomous vehicles. BAE Systems worked closely with the RN and other companies to successfully integrate 23 different unmanned vehicles from 12 different organisations, an excellent achievement that was fantastic to see.
When I was in the RN I worked closely with our suppliers to make sure they understood what our requirements were and that they were delivering on their promises. Since I have joined industry, I have continued to maintain that close link with my customers, as I think it is so important to understand how the military uses the equipment we provide.
How does Collaboration impact women in defence / differ from how a male might experience Collaboration?
I think the rise in collaboration has helped women in defence because it has enabled women to openly share their talents and be valued for making a positive contribution to their teams. Women tend to be better at building relationships and collaborating than men, so this change in the ways of working has meant that women are now being noticed more and promoted based on the great skills they have and the contribution they make.
How could we encourage Collaboration in defence?
Networking events like the one Women in Defence recently had at TechUK are a great way for people to meet and make collaborative connections.
I think companies should look at some of the available collaboration tools, or think about forming Communities of Interest to allow ideas and problems to be shared. Another great approach is providing a dedicated collaboration space where people can get together and chat informally.
The defence industry is still quite formal and tends to be led by meetings– it would be great if we could learn from other industries and have an open and inclusive culture that embraces diversity and encourages both formal and informal collaboration.