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In Conversation with Fiona Lewinton

Business Integration Director at QinetiQ, Fiona Lewinton tells us about her experience of the Women in Defence Awards 2018, from judging in the Outstanding Contribution awards category to attending the dinner itself.

I had a fantastic end to 2018 with the arrival of an important event in my year. On 6 November 2018, I was privileged to attend the Women in Defence UK Awards dinner in London. I was also delighted and extremely proud to be asked to judge the Outstanding Contribution award; although in the face of such impressive achievements it was a weighty responsibility.

We had to pick three finalists from more than 60 nominations. It was so uplifting to read about the amazing things that all the women involved had done, ranging from impressive technical contributions, through to military achievements, to the leadership of major change programmes in UK Ministry of Defence.

One of the best things about the awards ceremony was getting to meet the finalists and hear their stories first-hand. It was an honour to be among such amazing women and to celebrate their extraordinary achievements. The theme for the event (100 years after women gained the vote) was the quote from Dame Millicent Fawcett ‘courage calls to courage everywhere’. We heard so many courageous stories!

The Woman of the Year award went to Michelle Partington from the RAF, who overcame post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and went on to set up a foundation to provide free online support to others suffering the same.

A highlight for me in 2018 was the development of partnerships between the sponsor and the winner of each category. As sponsors of the Innovation award, all of us at QinetiQ were hugely excited at the prospect of working with the category winner, Professor Petra Oyston.

Diversity is essential to innovation, so it’s great that this new award celebrates diversity and innovation working together. I’ll report back at the next awards about how we’ve got on, but until then, many congratulations again to this 2018’s winners.

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