As We Rise We Must Lift Others

Director - Project Management Office
Hear from Judith Eastwood,
Director - Project Management Office as she reflects on
cultural changes over her 30 years with the company. 
Judith EastwoodAs we were approaching International Women’s Day I found myself reflecting on a number of aspects of my diverse 30 year career with BAE Systems which has taken me around the UK and across to the USA, initially as an engineer then working in project management, capture management, business management, strategy and change management.  One thing that has been a constant throughout is change and particularly the significant change in company culture towards a more diverse workforce, yet we still have some way to go.

I would like to share with all of you some of the factors that have helped me to develop and maintain resilience often throughout challenging times when it is easy to begin to doubt your own ability and the positive attributes that you have demonstrated to enable you to perform in the roles you have held.  It can at times feel a lonely place when you are either the first woman or a lone voice in a male environment and the support of other women who have been on similar journeys is invaluable.
 
In 2009 I had the privilege of being nominated and accepted into the International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation Fellows Program.  This gave me the chance to spend 3 weeks over the course of a year with 30 amazing women from across the globe and many different industries.  These ranged from the head of the future of manned space flight for NASA, a US Air Force Colonel, the head of Audit for Barclays Bank South Africa, Head of IT for Walmart Mexico, to name a few.  When we first joined the program, we were all in awe of each other but quickly became firm friends and mutual supporters recognizing the sometimes difficult but rewarding journeys we had all been on and looking forward to where our careers would take us next. The program provided excellent leadership development preparing me for a senior leadership role in Inc. but also showed me the great benefits of comradeship and support of others who had trodden a similar path.
 
Since that time and as our leadership has become more diverse I am pleased to say that I have many colleagues who have supported me through the good and the challenging times, as I have with them.  I also find myself learning now from the next generation as I have the privilege of mentoring a number of our future female leaders inside the company.  I am also pleased to be able to give back to the IWF by supporting the program and acting as a mentor for one of the current fellows. 
 
Greater diversity has been shown to have business benefits in the form of tangible financial results across many industries and of course it is everyone’s responsibility to help drive this change. 
 
However, on this IWD my appeal goes out to all fellow female leaders to remember the often challenging journeys we have all been on and to make sure that we never forget that we have a duty to develop the next generation.  We must strive to help drive more diversity by helping to create a more evenly balanced industry than the one many of us entered and grew up in.

I wish you all a happy International Women’s Day.
 
Judith Eastwood
 
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Judith Eastwood Director - Project Management Office 5 March 2020