How do you think gender equality in the workplace has evolved over the years?
The awareness of gender equality has improved over the years at Virgin. It will, however, take a generation for material change to occur. We have always had one or two female Leadership Team members, almost always in HR and/or Marketing. I have had a balanced number of male to female line managers, and most of those female managers have chosen a career before a family. At grassroots level, girls need to be encouraged as much as boys to take up careers that have traditionally been considered “men-only” (such as, in our industry, pilots & engineers).
As a leader yourself, what leadership qualities do you feel are most important?
The quality of a good leader is having the ability to be one step ahead of your team, good planning, the ability to influence, motivate, gain respect and team’s trust. Inclusivity is important to me and bringing a team on a journey together at pace, recognising any development required to maximise that pace.
The hardest challenge has been maintaining the morale of my team during a 12-month period when they have been on furlough for over three-quarters of the year and not knowing from one month to the next whether they are on furlough or not. Maintaining a positive mental attitude to a team that I have not been able to see and talk with physically has been testing.