Interview : Ann Miller-McCaffrey
ANN MILLER-MCCAFFREY IS A MEMBER OF THE NEWLY FORMED ARMED FORCES DIVERSITY ENGAGEMENT TEAM, A ROLE WHICH IS DESIGNED TO ENGAGE WITH ALL SECTORS OF SOCIETY TO RAISE AWARENESS OF CURRENT MESSAGING AND OPERATIONS AND ‘MYTH BUST’ AROUND STEREOTYPICAL PERCEPTIONS OF THE ARMED FORCES. IN HER SPARE TIME SHE IS THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF PURPLE TIE PROMOTIONS, AN ORGANISATION SET UP TO SHOWCASE INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN SPEAKERS WITH A CONNECTION TO THE ARMED FORCES. ANN HAS EXPERIENCED MUCH SOCIAL CHANGE WITHIN THE ARMED FORCES AND SHE IS A MEMBER OF THE RN COMPASS AND NAVAL SERVICEWOMEN’S NETWORKS AND HAS REPRESENTED THE ROYAL NAVY AT BOTH HOCKEY AND FOOTBALL.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS?
Loyal, reliable, approachable, fun and connected.
LOOKING BACK, WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE YOURSELF AT THE START OF YOUR CAREER?
Embrace change and always have integrity in everything you do.
WHAT MORE CAN ORGANISATIONS DO TO HELP WOMEN GET AHEAD?
Provide safe spaces to encourage growth and a critical mind. Problem solving and challenging the status quo prompts diversity of thought and creativity, something every organisation should be striving for, for its whole workforce.
HOW IMPORTANT ARE MEN IN ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY IN OUR WORKPLACES AND BEYOND?
Equality by definition requires balance and every child knows that balance cannot be achieved if both parties are not on the seesaw. Once there, they need to work together to generate success.
“I believe that the multiple identities of role models are hugely important as each of us takes inspiration from different things.”
HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED GENDER BIAS OR PREJUDICE DURING YOUR CAREER?
Unfortunately, yes I have. In sport, growing up I was pretty much the only girl in my area that played football. My team mates knew no different as we all grew up together, but other teams were less gracious, especially when I proved to be a much better player than most of them. I let my two feet do the talking and certainly became a more robust player because of this. However, I feel that this is a generational thing as gender equality in (grass roots) football is more prevalent with academies being open to all.
HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IT IS THAT WE HAVE VISIBLE DIVERSE ROLE MODELS IN OUR WORKPLACES?
I believe that the multiple identities of role models are hugely important as each of us takes inspiration from different things. I see sparkles of goodness and admirable traits in almost everyone I meet; but there are very few I would aspire to be. Inspiration is a very personal thing that we take from our experiences with others; I don’t believe that it can be given. My faith in the power of role models has led me to become a Trustee on the board of the educational charity Diversity Role Models.
DID YOU HAVE A ROLE MODEL GROWING UP?
Spookily, the only (whole) person I saw as a positive role model is someone from history. I am in awe of the strength of mind, courage, confidence and integrity of Queen Elizabeth I. To achieve what she did in a time when women were second class citizens is truly inspirational. Some would argue it was her privilege that gave her the power to exercise these talents with success. I would counter that and say that it was her ability to engage, build rapport and influence that was her strength.
“I absolutely love the deep and supportive friendships formed across the generations and decades. If it wasn’t for those who went before me, I would not have had the amazing experiences that I have had, and those following me would not have the opportunities that await them.”
Who is your campaigning hero?
I see Jude Kelly, the Artistic Director of the Southbank, as a campaigning hero because she has done so much to prompt the, sometimes difficult, conversations around women’s challenges and interests in establishing the incredible ‘Women of the World Festival’. She also started the ‘Being a Man Festival’ – showing an appreciation of equality for all.
Do you think workplace network groups have the power to influence positive changes in our workplaces and communities?
Absolutely, supportive groups can be very powerful change makers. They enable safe spaces to explore issues and formulate resolutions. Networks are not hierarchical so encourage talent and creativity from every level.
What is your personal network group highlight?
I really enjoy the reunions with members of the former Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS), in fact it’s our centenary this year and there are events going on all over the country culminating in some spectacular celebrations in November. I absolutely love the deep and supportive friendships formed across the generations and decades. If it wasn’t for those who went before me, I would not have had the amazing experiences that I have had, and those following me would not have the opportunities that await them.
What are you most proud of in your career and personally?
I’m most proud of having a beautiful wife Emma, a mischievous cat Shane, an amazing family in Madge and Dave, and a multitude of friends to share my life with.
Is there a motto or quote that means a lot to you?
Work hard, play harder. Life’s not a rehearsal!
KEEP CONNECTED WITH ANN :
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