This time last year nominations for the Women in Defence Awards 'went live'; a really exciting initiative and something completely new.
I first heard that I had been nominated in late summer, and I was surprised and delighted that that I had made it through the short list and was going to be a finalist at the inaugral Awards ceremony in London, and what an evening it was with great stories and some amazing people which can be seen in the 'highlights' video that was taken. The support from industry and the personalities that comprised the judgement panels were pretty impressive!
I was humbled to be considered for the Inspirational Award, and absolutely chuffed to have won it, although I didn't think that the work that myself and the team at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst were doing in terms of our revised approach to training (integrated platoons) or the role that I was charged with as New College Commander (the delivery of the Regular Commissioning Course), was anything special! What I think this award has done is highlight the strength we gain form the diversity of our people, something that is at the heart of Defence. The corner stone of officer training at RMAS is the development of leadership through the cohesion of the platoon, and we have a mix of graduates, non graduates, women and men, 19 to 29 year olds, ex soldiers and international cadets all of whom have to work out how each other ticks in order to get the best from one another whilst in pursuit of the team goal. I feel very privileged to be part of making that work, offering calibration when required and judging when to step in or not.
Since gaining the Defence Woman of the Year Award 2016, there has been a lot of interest in what I do, how I do it and why I do it! Suffice to say that I still get up in the morning and enjoy the challenge that the following days activities bring, whether a March and Shoot at 0600 hrs, a Public Order Serial at 0500 hrs, visiting the troops in CBRN gear or going to a Company Dinner Night with cadets families and friends - its all fantastic, if not a little tiring at times..!
Finally I do try and speak to every female officer cadet before their commissioning in order to offer some insight and advice on their future role as a leader of a minority group in Defence. It is not meant to be a 'female focus' event, but it is designed to get them used to developing their networks early so they can support each other and become stronger in themselves. A bit of leadership really, and if it works for the majority , then I am happy that I have achieved my aim!
Thank you very much to the Women in Defence team - what a year!!!