In the second of our new series of interviews and blogs, Women in Defence UK caught up with Mike Nayler, Defence Sales Director at Dell EMC to discuss everything from gender balance to Twitter hashtags.
If there is such a thing, what does a normal week look like for you?
My weeks are very varied, from customer meetings, internal management tasks and wider support activities. In general, I try to dedicate three days of my time to being on the road and directly interacting with my customers; that could be anything from Main Building in Whitehall to Portsmouth, Andover, Corsham or High Wycombe right up to Barrow and Faslane.
I also manage a team of around fifteen great people, so I spend time meeting with them and helping them prepare for their own customer meetings or discussing specific opportunities. Outside of that, I mentor (and am reverse mentored by) a number of the younger members of the Dell team, a role which I very much enjoy. Outside of the working day, I try to keep my industry knowledge current, so spend some time attending events and briefings, such as those delivered by TechUK and RUSI.
It’s coming up to a year since Dell became involved with Women in Defence UK, how has the previous 12 months been?
It has been a fascinating and highly energising period. I was initially attracted to the work of Women in Defence through the industry lens of a low representation of women in the Technology sector, which of course intersects with every market, including the defence one that I am so closely involved in. I am passionate about ensuring that both industry and public sector (having been a civil servant for many years myself) much more closely reflect society in attracting and retaining talent.
You’ve recently taken part in the Advanced Command and Staff Course (ACSC) at the Defence Academy, how was that as an industry professional?
The Advanced Command and Staff Course has been a fantastic experience for me. The specific module that Industry representatives join is called “Defence Policy to Capability”, which has given me an amazing insight into the process used in defence to deliver military effectiveness as a direct result of the policies made at government level. I believe the ACSC delegates have also found it very useful to have the industry representatives on the course to give our perspective on how the process works ‘from the other side’. I would encourage any industry players who have not been involved to look at the course as a good way to further develop those involved in defence contracting.
It’s been great to see you at a number of Women in Defence UK events, how’ve you found them and what would you like to see in the future?
The events I have been to have absolutely excellent. One of the most important parts of encouraging women into defence is to have role models who they can look to and say “that could be me”. Women in Defence UK provides exactly that platform and I have seen the huge positivity that comes from discussing the barriers and issues in a way that looks for solutions and is creative about new ways of attracting and retaining female talent.
Anyone who follows your on Twitter, will see you passion for better gender balance across defence and STEM, why’s that important to you?
In my early career as a Civil Servant, I worked for an incredible female leader who demonstrated very different traits and characteristics to her mainly male peers. This showed me very early on that a mixed team is a more effective team. Later in my career I worked in mixed teams of people from all walks of life, gender and social background, further reinforcing this belief. To this end, I now actively seek to encourage diversity in all of the teams I lead or am involved in. In our business, we are actively seeking to recruit to achieve this, so encouraging young students (particularly girls) to take up STEM related subjects at school will hopefully help them and us in the longer term.
We love your #NaylingIt on Twitter, how did that come about?
I have been a big rugby fan since playing at school and often travel with my brothers and sons to Wasps and England Rugby matches around the country or abroad. This resulted in us creating a #NaylersOnTour for the rest of our family to follow. The #NaylingIt hashtag came out of this for family activities that are nor rugby travel related.
And one final question, apart from the Women in Defence Awards 2019, what are you most looking forward to in the next 12 months?
This year I am involved in helping to organise the Army STEM event on 26th-27th September at Sandhurst, where we are looking to attract over a thousand schoolgirls and boys to get hands on experience of the roles and careers available to them in defence and wider industry should they place a focus on STEM subjects. I am also looking forward to 2019 being a year where we see women take up a much wider variety of roles in the military; I fully expect to see the first female Royal Marines pass the Commando course and women generally taking up roles that they have previously been prevented from undertaking.
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