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In Conversation With Kiah Ashford-Stow

I'm Kiah, Chief of Staff for the Women in Defence UK Awards 2019 and the newest member of the Women in Defence team.

I’ve taken over from George, and Adam before him, and like both of my predecessors I’m on a six-month secondment as part of the Civil Service Fast Stream.

My previous posting was at Air Command HQ and it was an environment I really enjoyed, not least because of the wonderful people I had the privilege of working alongside, both military and civilian. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to find out I’d be coming to Women in Defence next. I’m getting to deepen my understanding of defence and security, widen my knowledge of the sector, and work towards achieving gender balance in defence, a cause I’m really passionate about.

But, that’s probably enough of me talking about how lucky I am!

What’s definitely more interesting is where Women in Defence UK is headed over the five months that I’ve got left in post. Which really isn’t long. And there is a LOT going on…

First up we have the nominations window for the Women in Defence UK Awards 2019 (#WiDAwards2019 if anyone’s asking!) which is open *right now*. This is a really busy time for us as we encourage as many people as possible to get involved by nominating men, women and teams across defence, and then we have to log, process and respond to every single nomination that comes in! And we’ve got the mammoth milestone of our 1000th nomination fast approaching. But to be completely honest, writing enthusiastic posts about the Awards, speaking to our wonderful category partners about why they’ve chosen to support us and reading all of the inspirational stories of our nominees is barely work at all.

And that’s good, because things really hot up once the nominations close on 10th May. That’s when we package up all of the nominations for our brilliant judges and give them the unenviable task of deciding on the shortlist. The judging period runs throughout the summer months and culminates in the announcement of our shortlist on 10th September, followed in October by a shortlisting event that will be bigger and better than ever before!

But as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also plenty more to be getting on with in parallel. One of our main focuses this year will be maximising the individual and collective impact of women working across defence, improving the overall output of defence in the process.

We’ll be teaming up with the outstanding Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts (RADA) to run a series of masterclasses, aiming to give participants insight into the impact of their behaviours on others and provide practical tips and takeaways, that participants can apply straight away in the workplace. We’ll also be hosting speed mentoring sessions and developing ideas to complement the many excellent mentoring schemes already out there, with an emphasis on bringing women who work in defence together, creating contacts and networks, sharing experience, expertise and inspiration. On top of that, we’ll be bringing you briefings, thinking about how we can engage in the important conversations most widely on our blog, through webinars and our social media platforms, and we’ll be at DSEI with an exciting new initiative too.

So, there we have it: a light flavour of what’s on this season’s menu for Women in Defence UK. Very much looking forward to working with our partners, judges, wider team and community and meeting plenty of our supporters and friends as those long summer days roll on in.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you’d like to stay up to date with Women in Defence UK, you can follow us on Twitter and join our mailing list on the website. And don’t forget to get those all-important nominations in for our 2019 Awards to give incredible women, men and teams working in defence of the nation the recognition they deserve.

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