Adam Philpott, McAfee featured

HeForShe: Adam Philpott | EMEA President, McAfee

Adam Philpott, McAfeeAs EMEA President of McAfee, Adam Philpott leads the EMEA region with a focus on building truly diverse teams to drive sales and success at every level of the business.

In this role, Adam is responsible for growing the business across EMEA as well as developing stronger partnerships with the channel and customers across McAfee’s consumer and enterprise security portfolio.

Before joining McAfee, Adam held the role of Senior Director, EMEAR, Cyber Security at Cisco. With more than 17 years of experience at the IT and networking conglomerate, Adam has a proven record of working in the security industry and boosting business growth.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I’ve always been surrounded by strong female role models. I was brought up by a single mother, which I’d say is part of the reason why driving equality is a personal passion of mine. Together with the McAfee leadership team, I strive to achieve our diversity goals and we are committed to creating a diverse, inclusive culture across the company.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I’m an active member of McAfee’s WISE (Women in Security) Affinity Group, which is one of the company’s employee-run networks, focused on supporting the growth, empowerment, and success of women. With around 1,000 members globally, the group includes both women and men at all levels. Given my current role, I also focus on how we can continue encouraging wider diversity in EMEA and spearheading initiatives that empower women in the industry more broadly – both employees and those considering careers in STEM.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Without male support when it comes to gender equality in the workplace, the pace of change will not improve. As the incumbents, if men don’t sign up to challenge the status quo, the voice of change will ultimately be diminished.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I think it’s incumbent upon men to get involved in the gender equality conversation. Personally, I like to think not just about what we say, but what we do, however big or small. Like many of the debates focused on minority rights and boosting diversity, those who are in the position of privilege are naturally nervous about what to say – they often don’t feel they have the right to contribute, or may even feel they shouldn’t speak out as they are part of the problem. In other cases, men may not be sure how to get involved. However, a noble intent and demonstrable desire to drive change, even without knowing how, is a good start.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Personally, no I don’t, as these groups are necessary to create strength in numbers and a community platform. However, I do see the rise of the term “ally” as something powerful to engage and co-opt men into actively driving change alongside women.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

The vital step to encourage more men into actively involving themselves in the gender debate is to normalise it. It’s often an exception, rather than the rule. As a result, I believe regular, visible, values-based leadership can go a long way. However, this shouldn’t just be from the top. It’s key to encourage this and normalise men actively supporting equal rights for women in the workplace across all levels of an organisation.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

My experience of mentoring has always shown that each and every person – whether a woman or a man – has unique strengths and weaknesses. However, I do believe that we need to underpin confidence for every single individual through support, coaching, leadership flexibility and action. For example, every organisation should think through the language and individuals involved in attracting female talent, and ensure that flexible leaders are in place to act as coaches and help women develop and succeed with confidence. These leaders should also ensure scrutiny over hidden biases such as working practices to ensure women are able to contribute and in doing so, are equal in their promotion and career development prospects.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here


HeForShe: Stefano Maifreni | Founder, Eggcelerate

Stefano MaifreniAn engineer by education, product manager by role and expert at achieving growth by career, Stefano has an outstanding track record in business strategy, operations, product and marketing, with extensive P&L management and international expansion experience.

His professional journey includes Senior Manager roles in global Blue-chip companies, Growing Businesses and Start-ups in technology-intensive and innovative industries (IT, Telecom, Technology Manufacturing, Drones, IoT and FinTech).

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role

I am an engineer by education, a product manager by role, and a growth expert by career.

I have a background in B2B Tech, where I pioneered the SaaS model and, after the excitement of the early 2000s, I learned to achieve growth with scarce resources.

Being very action- and delivery-focused, and a data-driven "efficiency geek" with an entrepreneurial spirit, I decided a few years ago to follow my passion of helping small B2B tech businesses succeed with their challenges in productive and profitable ways

I founded Eggcelerate in 2014 to help the CEO and Founders interconnect thoughts and actions while adopting a down-to-earth approach that leaves bandwidth for learning and adaptation. We activate the strategy of Tech B2B Small Businesses.

It allowed me to work closely with growing companies and start-ups in technology-intensive and innovative industries, such as IT, technology manufacturing, drones, IoT and Insure/FinTech, immersive theatre and diversity marketing.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, I have always been career conscious, but I started doing this in a structured and regular way during my MBA, and I still do it. Finding time for reflections and check the alignment between what you do and what you like is very important.

Is what you do just a shuttle from one weekend to the next? Is it just something that gives you a salary and allows to pay you the bills? Or it's something you love and enjoy every minute of? Do you feel energised at the idea of starting your working day? Are you learning something new every day? What are the development prospects?

The questions are easy to write, a bit scary to ask yourself, but quite probing and helpful.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Of course! Many people depict the process to plan and achieve the career you want as a straight arrow, which entails the following steps: know who you are, decide what you want to do, get it, climb the ladder. I bet you might get stuck on step one for a long time!

The point is that you change, your preferences evolve, and the world moves faster. A career is a climbing frame, and you might go up, move laterally, even down at times, on your way to the top. Therefore, you need to check in often with yourself, experiment with new things, maybe try a few before focusing on what you want and like. There are no straight arrows and ladders – these are oversimplifications that cause frustrations.

Those stopped for me the moment I turn my career plan into a serendipity plan!

Regarding my entrepreneurial experience, you can imagine all the challenges: establishing a business from scratch, gaining credibility, keeping momentum, but also, some sleepless nights about cash flow, a Client deferring payments. But these were business-related challenges that I somehow expected.

I didn't expect that feeling of loneliness that entrepreneurs have: you're out there with your business, and you need to look after yourself & your business.

What has been your most significant achievement to date?

The growth of my Clients' businesses, and ours as a result.

Seeing the results coming through, making your Client happy and as a result, seeing your business grow is thrilling. It's a testimony to the impact you had on businesses and the lives of the people involved.

My best achievement is my young daughter, though! It makes my life very interesting, with no risk of getting bored. However, I can see a pattern regarding the "girl" and "boy" divide and gender-biased toys and games. It might be the signs of something more deeply ingrained in the culture. I find it extraordinarily conservative and outdated.

What one thing do you believe has been a significant factor in your achieving success?

I would point to two main things. Firstly, I do what I love – it gives me energy and a drive I rarely had during my career. Secondly, probably the fact that I don't feel I have achieved in full what I could. It's a hunger for new opportunities to impact and learn at the same time.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone, or are you someone's mentee?

Mentoring is one of the most important things if you want to develop professionally and as a person. I have been a mentee for a long time – and still am. I have a personal 'board of directors' of people with different backgrounds, ranging from top executives in the UK and abroad to professional coaches to … a priest. They can give me advice, help, and ask a wealth of challenging questions.

I have mentored people of all sorts of backgrounds, mainly in start-ups and SMEs and MBA students. I haven't noticed any difference concerning the courage of leaving their comfort zone. It was all about personal experiences, not gender.

What can businesses/government/allies do to help diversity and inclusion?

Normalise it – neutralise it. Instil a company culture whereby colleagues are colleagues: their sensitive traits and preferences don't count. It's all about objectives and performance.

There's a long way to go, I'm afraid.

Why do you think it's important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

I have always been a supporter of diversity. My revealing moment was when I had my first management role. My team was very diverse concerning gender, age, and background. That allowed us to see any problems from different angles and develop collective lateral thinking.

Diversity is essential for everyone, not just for men. We should extend this to sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, or faith. I think we should aim for workplaces and a society where these things are merely irrelevant. Not to say that the identity of any person is not relevant, but this sort of "clustering" should not find any space. It is fertile soil for stereotyping and ultimately for intolerance and discrimination.

Instead, I think discrimination brought to the extreme can become positive. Imagine you can "discriminate" one person to the next one; it means you accept each one for what they are. Discrimination has two meanings in English: "the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex" and "recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another." – we should move from the former to the latter.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes", said Oscar Wilde.

If I had to change something with the benefit of hindsight, I would have probably started a structured approach to my career earlier. I'd have also launched my business earlier.

I spent too much time in my comfort zone.

On the entrepreneurial experience, I would be fairer to myself and take more "me time".

One piece of advice I would give my young self would be to define what success means without being influenced by how the majority defines it.

What is your next challenge, and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

The immediate challenge is, of course, to grow my business. However, the real point is to see how it will look like if I project it in the future and ask myself those uncomfortable questions.

But the long-term achievement would be to feel self-actualised (as in the Maslow pyramid), which for me is the synonym of success.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here


HeForShe: Wil Benton | Venture & Ecosystem Director, ATI Boeing Accelerator

Wil BentonWil is the Venture & Ecosystem Director at ATI Boeing Accelerator. It's a 3-month programme for world-class startups building industry 4.0 and sustainability enabling technologies, with the potential to bolster the growth and competitiveness of the UK aerospace industry.

Prior to becoming Venture & Ecosystem Director at the accelerator, Wil delivered similar programmes at Ignite, directly supporting 38 companies in accelerator and pre-accelerator programmes. Wil is also a former co-founder and CEO of Chew, a music-tech startup that was acquired in 2017 after scaling to ~400,000 global users, and alumni of Ignite [Prog. 5, Winter 2014].

Wil is an active angel investor (15+ investments to date) and startup mentor. In his free time, he manages a chart-topping record label and DJs around Europe and the US.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

As the only man in a team of two to four other women, I’m a firsthand witness to the benefits diversity can bring to our workplace. Without diversity of thought, background, gender, race - whatever - you will struggle to create a meaningful environment for growth.

I have also seen the struggles my partner has faced as a women in a male-dominated industry and am therefore doing my small part in trying to change that.

That’s why I support the HeForShe campaign.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

If only one part of the workplace is driving for change, change will never happen. The fact we’re having to have this conversation in the 21st century is beyond me - but it’s clear there’s a huge amount of work still to be done. Thankfully the conversation is now more front-and-centre than it has been historically, but it’s critical that men play their part to support gender equality so we can all make it happen.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

In my experience, men are welcome - I think it’s important to reflect on everyone’s experiences but provide a place for sharing ideas for change and improving the situation. If only one side is having that conversation, we’re not going to make much of a change! But yes, I think the conversation is open to and happening with both men and women.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

I don’t know - it’s not something that makes me feel that way and I can’t speak for others! I think it’s great that there are these groups/ networks that provide the opportunity for this dialogue to happen, but I also think that - as a community - we can do better, and create more inclusive opportunities in  mixed groups/ networks as well as the individual/ disparate ones. It shouldn’t be hard!

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I think the first step is to flag that the debate is happening, and that it needs/ should be something we’re all consciously aware of. There are a number of initiatives pushing this forward (shout out to 50:50, Lu Li, Diversity VC and everyone else doing the good work!), but it needs to be part of the business values to really lead to any positive difference. It’s not a tickbox exercise, and so if treated as such it’s just window dressing. And that’s not good enough.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I do what I can to share my experience as a founder, investor, advisor etc and mentor anyone I connect with that I think I can help. At the moment I’m mentoring and advising a few startups, some of which are female-founded. It’s a really rewarding process and one that’s worked for me (as a mentee) in the past. Mentoring should be something everyone does - you’d be surprised at what providing a second opinion on things (or receiving one) can do for personal development!

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for? 

The amazing women I’ve mentored (or am working with at the moment) are driven, keen to speak up and ask for help - but yes, there are occasions where confidence and trusting in ones’ self can take some time to come forward and be as established as the bare-faced swagger that some of the male founders I’ve worked with have!


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here


Dan Zinkin

HeForShe: Dan Zinkin | Managing Director & Head of Tech for Global Investment & Corporate Banking, J.P. Morgan

Dan ZinkinA 22 year veteran of JPMorgan, Dan has worked in a number of roles across the Corporate & Investment Bank, bridging Operations, Strategic Projects, Business Management and, since 2010, Technology.

Dan leads technology for JPMorgan Global Investment Banking & Corporate Banking including our Digital Investment Banking strategy and core M&A, Capital Markets and Wholesale Payments Sales businesses.

In addition, Dan is broadly focused on the EMEA innovation agenda and connectivity with FinTech in the region. He spends time with clients sharing JPMorgan’s insights and activities across the fast-changing tech landscape. Dan is a passionate champion of diversity and philanthropy, bringing innovation to both areas at JPMorgan.

Dan’s most recent prior role was the EMEA lead for the Global Technology Strategy, Innovations & Partnerships team focused on developing IT strategy, innovation and emerging technology relationships aligned to the Corporate & Investment Bank and CRM strategy firmwide.

Outside of JPMorgan, Dan was a co-founder of SimGuard, a (failed) mobile tech startup in the first dotcom phase ('98-'01). Dan received a B.A. in International History & Politics from the University of Leeds, England.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – have you witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

It’s crazy we have to ask that question! Who wouldn’t support efforts to drive a more inclusive environment? The evidence is clear that more diverse firms deliver better results and morally and socially it’s clearly the right thing to do. I have personally witnessed and benefited from a more diverse workplace, seeing the culture, perspectives and impact of my team improve as we have grown our female leadership. That said it didn’t and shouldn’t take witnessing it personally to believe and take action to address the inequalities and inequities of the past. Anyone who somehow still needs persuading should go read Caroline Criado Perez’s awesome book “Invisible Women” to get some perspective.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Pretty much every injustice in the world that has been addressed (or at least made meaningful progress) has required those with power or privilege to support those without. It is incumbent on men to be key sponsors, mentors, enablers, barrier-removers and change agents.

More specifically in the workplace: do you want your company and your specific team to perform better? If so, the data is pretty clear that diversity will have a positive impact on your results.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

Within JPMorgan we have multiple initiatives for different levels of experience and roles (e.g. Tech versus Finance etc). My experience has been fantastic working with multiple programs and have had the opportunity to listen and learn to better understand the challenges, as well as provide mentoring, support and lead initiatives to drive change.

Externally it takes a little more effort, which is fair, to demonstrate you are there to help and drive change, not just build profile or talk. Incidentally, I do think the proliferation of overlapping initiatives is partly due to people wanting to be the leader and get the credit and over time I think to really drive change there will need to be some scaling up of the most impactful organizations.

In any case, men are likely still more welcome in these conversations than women are in many business contexts, so let’s focus on fixing that.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

It is a really interesting question. I co-founded and ran a program (Associate Women’s Program) for almost 6yrs at JPMorgan for mid-career women specifically targeting the next promotion and ever year 2 things happened: at least one female participant would tell me that they resented the fact we had created this program specifically for women as they did not “need special help” to progress; and some number of men would complain to me how unfair it was that they did not have the same help to get promoted. I would always answer simply by pointing them to the data showing clearly that historically men were more likely to get promoted (outperforming their proportion of any mid/senior level). The program made a measurable difference, but there remains a long way to go.
More broadly, I think the growth of programs such as JPMorgan’s “Men as Allies” does bring home the message that men need to play a role but needs to reach more people.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I think successful men and women in business get involved in many things where they don’t initially feel welcome. They dive in because they see a problem or opportunity to grow or protect their business. Diversity needs to be seen through that lens. It is an imperative, not soft, side issue.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I mentor multiple women, some formally and others informally. Mentoring done well is a two-way street and mentors learn as much as they share.
I also led JPMorgan to become the sponsor of Finding Ada’s Network – a mentoring platform – where 50 JPMorgan female employees mentor a diverse range of external women in STEM.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I have personally seen real-life confirmation of many of the clichés we hear about women opting out of promotions, or not being willing to ask for what they deserve (roles, pay, opportunities etc). Interestingly I have also noticed a misplaced (in my view) belief that the “right thing” will happen without them having to speak up or make it happen. Maybe as teams become more diverse, with more women in leadership roles noticing things that today’s predominantly male leaders may miss, that will become true, but for now, the old rules generally apply and hope/belief is not a good strategy.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here


George Brasher

HeForShe: George Brasher | Managing Director, HP UK & Ireland

George BrasherAs Managing Director UK&I, George is responsible for all consumer and commercial printers and PCs, mobile devices, workstations, thin clients, services, solutions and go-to-market activities, for the UK and Ireland. 

Brasher has more than 25 years of experience working at HP in a variety of roles. Immediately prior to his relocation to the UK, he was Vice President & General Manager of the WW Laser Printer business and LES Marketing & Strategy based in California.  Prior to that, he held a variety of leadership roles within HP spanning multiple regions and functions including  Vice President and General Manager of the US Printing and Supplies Category, responsible for the product portfolios and go-to-market strategies for Inkjet and LaserJet Printers and Supplies across both commercial and consumer business segments in the US.

Brasher also served as Vice President of LaserJet Supplies in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, responsible for managing the portfolio profit and loss, category strategy, business development and channel management in the region.  Prior to that, he held leadership roles in the Americas region, including vice president of the LaserJet Supplies and Transactional LaserJet Printer Category and vice president of the Inkjet Supplies Category business.

Brasher began his career with HP in 1990 as a financial analyst and, in addition to Category roles, has also served as sales manager for the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Sales Team in the US Consumer Business.

Brasher holds a Bachelor’s degree in business from Baylor University and Master’s degree in business administration from Pennsylvania State University.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

I’m a firm believer that the more points of view a business can draw on, the better its products and the company as a whole will be.

Currently, women comprise only 17 per cent of the UK tech workforce. Over one hundred years on from women gaining the vote in Britain, the shortfall of women in the UK tech workforce is unacceptable, and we have to work together as an industry, to attract and retain more women.

What’s more given the rapid growth in the sector, striving towards gender parity and bridging the country’s digital skills gaps can help fuel business and economic growth, and securing Britain’s place as global leader in digital innovation.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

I’m passionate about encouraging everyone to embrace gender equality in the workplace – and by extension, in all other areas of life. HP has the most diverse Board of Directors in Silicon Valley, and almost a third of our executives (director and above) are women.

However, we still struggle with a gender imbalance and addressing the under-representation of women is a priority for HP and me personally.

Here in the UK , we’ve recently made commitments to addressing this imbalance including: ensuring women account for at least 50 per cent of our intern intake; introducing a ‘Returners Programme’ to encourage women to re-enter the workforce after time away; and investing in unconscious bias training. We’re also a proud signatory of the Tech Talent Charter, and have recently redoubled our commitment by becoming a board member.

But there’s still a long way to go! And to get there, we need everyone on side.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

Speaking from my own experience as a man involved in the gender equality conversation, I feel not only welcome but inspired to involve others too.

I recently hosted a roundtable discussion on the barriers women face to joining the UK tech industry, and how together we can attract more women into the industry at every level. It was held in partnership with The Fawcett Society and Tech Talent Charter and brought together policymakers, business figures and, most importantly, young women.

For me personally, it was a proud moment to be able to share HP’s platform. All leaders, regardless of gender, have a responsibility to champion this cause and amplify the voices of the under-represented, who may otherwise go unheard.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Groups and networks defined in gendered terms provide a safe space for women to be included. As women are an under-represented demographic – specifically in the UK tech workforce – I support this, even if it does deter some men.

Looking at the bigger picture, though, the language we use to talk about this issue has changed. Now, we talk about ‘gender equality’ rather than ‘women’s rights’ – this reflects the fact that it’s not an issue that’s isolated to one gender, as it impacts everyone.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Leadership must keep gender equality elevated on the boardroom agenda. HP and all tech businesses have to remain accountable, continually setting ourselves goals and measurable targets to address the dire gender imbalance within UK tech. What gets measured, gets done.

For businesses, there’s both a moral imperative and a fundamental commercial imperative to address this issue. By incorporating action on gender equality into the day-to-day operations of a business (e.g. in hiring and buying policies) men will be automatically be involved.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I firmly believe in the benefits of mentoring, through both formal and informal arrangements. We need to elevate rising stars, building and broadening their skills to support them in realising their potential to be leaders of tomorrow. This is particularly important among under-represented groups – including women. Personally, I have many mentees.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

Mentoring shouldn’t be isolated to the business context. Early intervention is essential for encouraging girls to study STEM, preparing them for the jobs of the future and hopefully, building their confidence to pursue careers in the field.

According to new research commissioned by HP, one in five women who didn’t choose to study STEM said it was because they ‘didn’t know anything about it’. What’s more, 32 per cent of women who aren’t in technical roles said it was because they felt underqualified, This suggests negative associations with, or an initial lack of interest in, STEM start early and persist into adulthood.

The advantage of tech is that it is everywhere in our day-to-day lives. We can all be mentors, by empowering girls to interact with tech – and importantly, making sure they feel supported to choose to study STEM subjects.

Our research showed that when it comes to women’s career influences, family came out on top (46 per cent). There’s also an important role for parents and guardians to play here in communicating to children – particularly girls –  that these career paths are open to them.


Michael Khan Oliver Wyman

HeForShe: Michael Khan | Partner and Graduate Lead, Oliver Wyman

Michael Khan

Michael Khan joined Oliver Wyman straight from university and now, over a decade later, he heads up the business’ entry-level recruiting efforts in the UK and Ireland.

Michael is a Partner in the ‘Transportation & Services’ and ‘Pricing, Sales & Marketing’ practices where he leads strategy, commercial, and operational improvements in the aviation, travel, and leisure sectors.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign and gender equality in the workplace?

Short answer? It’s the right thing to do!

Long answer: I work for a leading management consultancy, and our industry is all about helping our clients to solve their toughest problems. There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that more diverse teams outperform less diverse teams – so if we want to deliver the greatest impact for our clients (and we do!), having diverse teams is a pre-requisite, not an option.

I see gender diversity as one important element here, but of course there are others – from racial and ethnic diversity to cognitive diversity to socioeconomic diversity – that are critical also.

I’d like to think that we all want to contribute to society – to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren than we inherited – and supporting and advancing gender equality is a great example of one way we can do this. I believe that great strides in gender equality have been made compared to our parents’ or grandparents’ times – but we still have a long way to go.

What are you personally doing to create gender equality in the workplace?

I lead our graduate recruitment activities in the UK and Ireland, and we work hard to understand and try to reduce bias in our recruiting. Unconscious bias training is compulsory for all our interviewers, and our interview format and evaluation approach are designed to give a fair, objective view of each candidate we see. I also work with the recruiting team to analyse our recruitment data at every stage of the process so we can identify skews and adjust what we do to ensure an equal opportunity of success across all genders.

I’m incredibly proud that this focus has seen Oliver Wyman achieve a broadly equal gender balance in our entry-level graduate intakes since 2015. I am firmly committed to maintaining this.

I also mentor women, helping them prepare for a promotion, advance their skills, and working through career goals and how to achieve them. On a personal level, I’ve found this very rewarding, particularly hearing the differences and parallels between their experiences and my own.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

In my experience, very welcome. Gender equality is all our responsibility: to call out behaviours that are wrong, to help all genders achieve their potential, and to recognise (and celebrate) diversity that makes our teams stronger.

Our women’s network, WOW, is open to all genders – not just men but also trans people, people who are genderqueer, and non-binary people.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here.


Ben Brabyn featured

HeForShe: Ben Brabyn | Business development & ecosystem expert; Campaign Coordinator, GenieShares

Ben Brabyn

Ben Brabyn is a business development and ecosystem expert who has recently launched the GenieShares campaign, highlighting entrepreneurs who are giving equity away to members of the public, and he's so far persuaded some of the UK's leading entrepreneurs to pledge equity worth several million pounds.

He is former Head of Level39, Europe's leading fintech and cybersecurity cluster based in London. He welcomed over 200 companies from more than 50 countries.

Prior to leading Level39, Ben Brabyn consulted to the UK Government, running UK Trade & Investment's Venture Capital Unit and introducing overseas investors to UK companies. Earlier in his career he served as an officer in the Royal Marines Commandos, as an analyst with JP Morgan and as founder of an online payments business which he founded, built and sold between 2001 and 2010.

He has an MA in Philosophy and English Literature from Edinburgh University and an MBA from Warwick Business School in the UK.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

I am really keen to see and support female entrepreneurs showing inspirational leadership in and beyond the Covid19 crisis. At a time when businesses are increasingly challenged to show that they support keyworkers, volunteers and carers (all disproportionately women) - as well as customers, investors and employees - founders like Kiran Bhagotra and Gia Mills, who show that their company supports communities, will set the tone and give the example to businesses during the recovery.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

I have been really inspired by the work done by Professor Laura Huang at Harvard Business School. Her research on the cumulative effects of biases in investor behaviour - and the terrible effect this has for female entrepreneurs - is a rebuke and challenge to a system in which only one or two percent of investment goes to women-led startups. Clearly half the population is wildly underfunded. Men and women must do more to mitigate these effects and create conditions where talent thrives to its fullest potential.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

It seems best for men to approach this conversation with the ear-to-mouth ratio guiding their contributions. While I am curious and keen to help, I also recognise that I’m only aware of some of the issues affecting gender equality. In creating GenieShares, I’ve sought to create a platform in which the authentic voices of female entrepreneurs and leaders can be clearly heard, and their inspiring example followed.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

I don’t think I can speak for other men’s feelings about this. Overall I think that the quality of the gender equality debate is improving, though the improvement isn’t evenly distributed. This is another reason why I think it’s especially powerful for those women who are able to provide an example to do so, and I hope that the GenieShares community amplifies their impact when they do.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Honey converts more than vinegar, and it is especially powerful in persuading those who do not yet believe in gender equality  when women demonstrate the broad social impact of what they are doing as entrepreneurs. Rather than repeating the arguments in favour of gender equality, leaders like Kiran Bhagotra are pledging to share the results of their successes so that we can all feel we have an interest in helping her business to thrive!

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I am cautious of the mentor/mentee description. I believe I have helped a number of women entrepreneurs over the last few years, and I know that I have gained from the experience too. I am particularly keen to help female entrepreneurs benefit from some of the networking behaviours and dynamics which often and traditionally have favoured men.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

It is well documented that women and men apply different criteria when considering their qualification for a role, but a much less observed and more punishing difference is the typical difference between the professional networks of men and women. Some interesting work on this has been done by Ronald S Burt. In summary, women often develop networks with a higher degree of closure while men on average create a higher degree of brokerage. This systematically reduces the negotiating power and the centrality of women on average, and directly contributes both to the gender pay gap and the lack of career opportunities often faced by women returning to the workforce. One of our objectives with GenieShares is to systematically extend the network reach of participating entrepreneurs to help mitigate this effect.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here.


Stefano Marrone

HeForShe: Stefano Marrone | Founder and MD, Nucco Brain

Stefano MarroneStefano Marrone is Founder and MD of Nucco Braina tech-led strategic agency that creates innovative content (eg: AR and VR experiences) for clients including Deloitte, the European Space Agency, Google, HSBC, JP Morgan, BBC, John Lewis Partnership and Water Aid.

Stefano Marrone is also a former Forbes ‘100 Under 30’ alumnus, a Google for Startups Accelerator programme mentor and a guest lecturer for a number of leading UK universities, including Goldsmiths University of London, UCL, SOAS and ESCP.

After a career in Italian advertising agencies and the Canadian entertainment industry, Marrone moved to London to gain an MA in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship from Goldsmiths University. He then founded Nucco Brain, which is now part of the UNIT9 Group (named Tech Company of the Year 2020’ by ad land bible, Campaign).

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – have you witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

We have definitely strongly benefited from a diverse leadership and workforce. The variety of angles from which business challenges can be seen is higher, and so are our options when tackling and solving them.

We also believe that more diversity in the business provides better creative outcomes for our clients. Creativity thrives when different points of view, cultures and opinions can interact and enrich each other.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Sadly, it’s true that often positions of power are still largely held by men. If we want gender equality to happen, we need to get men involved and sponsor it as much as possible.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I think it’s a mixed bag at the moment. I have felt unwelcome in some of the events and conversations I’ve joined in-person and online. Too often men are seen as “the enemy” for this cause, but they can be as big an advocate as women, if they are allowed to join the fight.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

If a man feels that way just because of the name of a group, we are in trouble as a society. Gender equality is so clearly a challenge that hasn’t been resolved, that any group called “Women in XXX” just clearly identifies its area of interest.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Firstly, simply make the invitation. And repeat it often. Saying “all men are welcome” in a clear way is helpful to break hesitation.
Second, make clear the difference between listening and sharing moments.

Sometimes, I haven’t joined a group or a conversation out of respect, to leave space for a forum. It’s important for an association that promotes gender equality to clearly define the moments when men are invited to take part of the conversation and the ones when it’s about having a safe space to discuss without boundaries or feeling watched.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I am part of the Seed Mentorship Program at Ravensbourne University, where I have mentored two very talented female students on how to build a portfolio and launch their career. I will certainly do so next year too.

As MD of Nucco Brain, the career progression of my direct reports is essential and, at the moment, four out of seven of them are women.

Working with the Google Startup Accelerator programme, the opportunities to mentor female funders have been many in the past years, and will be in the future. It is one of the aspects of mentorships I like the most.

Incidentally, one of the key mentors in my life is a woman; the amazing Kate Gray.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I often find myself insisting on “fighting for your space, because no-one else will”. In general, it’s frankly disheartening to see many talented women being ignored in the room just because they are not the loudest, most aggressive or most cocky.

Most women I have mentored feel the need for external approval - a certification, a degree, formal praise - before even trying something new when they are perfectly capable of the task in hand, whilst many men will just “give it a shot”.

I don’t think the problem is in seniority per se, but the unnecessary need of validation outside of self-belief on the capacity to complete a task, or be right for the role.

In my career, I have definitely hired my share of under-qualified men that ended-up being a disappointment and plenty of overqualified women that didn’t show their full potential during the interview process.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here.


Stuart Nyemecz

HeForShe: Stuart Nyemecz | Senior Director & Head of Enterprise, Dell Technologies

Stuart NyemeczAt Dell Technologies Stuart Nyemecz leads the Enterprise Business in the UK.

Ultimately, they help leading companies deal with the myriad of challenges around realising their Digital Transformation, and in the Enterprise division, they work with the largest and most complex organisations globally. Stuart is responsible for our largest customer relationships, for developing value propositions for the UKI market, setting business development strategy and driving talent development for the customer facing teams. He is a Board Member, a Diversity Champion and spokesperson for Dell Technologies, and he plays an active part in a number of EMEA and Global leadership committees.

Stuart Nyemecz is an advocate of balancing a strong work ethic with time for family and adventure, having taken a six-month sabbatical with his own young family to travel the world. He is privileged to be able to use his professional platform to help drive his personal passion in creating a fairer world for his daughters. Stuart holds a BSc in Computer Science from Durham University and an alumni of Cranfield Business School.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

I support HeForShe from a business perspective as a leader because I am a strong believer in innovation to drive business performance. Innovation comes from the successful execution of new ideas; diversity of talent brings increased diversity of ideas and therefore helps to find new solutions and accelerate progress. I enjoy working in an environment that is representative of the real world we live in and reflects the customers and partners that we have the privilege to support. From a personal perspective, growing up in London and being part of a diverse and multi-cultural community has always been my own normal. I have a wife that works in Finance in the City, and we have two young daughters that are still in primary education, so want to do my part to create a fairer world for them to fulfil their potential.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Gender Equality isn’t a female problem, it is a collective problem as with any form of inequality, which whether we realise it or not prevents real inclusive progress; so, it falls on all of us, men included, to help address it. Given that in most workplaces, men still make up the majority of the workforce, it is even more important that men are dialled into and supportive of these efforts if we are to collectively address the balance so that we are not just talking about it but pro-actively putting in measures & environments that support the recruitment & career progression of our female colleagues.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I have personally always been made to feel extremely welcome in supporting these conversations. I currently sit as part of the leadership team on two steering boards; one more generally around all aspects of diversity and inclusion, and one more specifically focused on gender diversity and supporting the creation of an environment that allows the women in our business the opportunity to fulfil their potential without gender barriers in place.

I am acutely aware that there is a limit to how comprehensively I can truly understand the challenges from a female perspective, and I think at times men can feel self-conscious about this. We must strike a balance between effective advocacy and our own awareness about voicing an opinion on areas that we may not have directly experienced. I have always found however, that if your views are well-intentioned, and your actions genuine, then your support is rarely questioned and the more support we can garner the better. By being open and part of the conversation, we are all in a much better position to support progress.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

I personally don’t subscribe to the view that the name changes the emphasis for who is responsible for solving the problem. That isn’t to say the naming convention isn’t important. I have found the name of the group alone can put some people off from initially approaching a network or community, as they sometimes feel that if they don’t fall into the demographic represented by the name, then they somehow don’t qualify to be part of the group and contribute.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Firstly, it is about creating an environment where everyone can feel safe and secure about sharing their views, creating that trust that allows everyone to be themselves, so that they won’t be judged.

Secondly, I think it is important that men aren’t being positioned as, or seen as the enemy, that men are somehow broken, and that we need to fix the men to fix the issue. The systemic challenges we face in addressing the gender inequality issue extend well beyond the walls of the office and are established well before people enter the world of work. Once that is understood and established then it isn’t about pointing the finger, it is about what we can do to collectively to address it.

Thirdly, we need more influential male role models, visibly and actively supporting these topics, not just in words, but in their actions. That doesn’t necessarily mean more men taking centre stage, but it is important that they play an active supporting role.

Lastly, with any group of society that hold a majority position within a space, they have an inherent responsibility to encourage the inclusion on those who are underrepresented. Whilst women tend to be the minority in the workplace in general, they are often the majority in the groups focused on this debate, so they by actively encouraging men to join the debate they can start to broaden that conversation. Some men, depending on their background, don’t know what it’s like to sit within a group who are underrepresented, so it is amazing how easily it can be to feel intimated in that situation. Luckily, living in a household with three strong females, I am pretty much used to being in the minority these days and am well accustomed to it!

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes. I currently have three women that I mentor, along with two men. The three women I mentor are at very different stages of their working career, however, all share the common goal of being the best they can be and fulfil their potential, whether they are just starting out in the world of work or are looking to finish their career having achieved or exceeded the expectations they set out with for themselves.

Internally, I have just championed a collaboration app in collaboration with Natalie Eicher, the CEO of Mettacool, which helps to connect Mentors and Mentees across the organisation. We use this platform to help open-up and expand the Network for Female Talent, creating new relationships, new sponsors, and identifying opportunities to further their career and fulfil their potential.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I find that every individual I mentor now, or have mentored in the past, irrespective of gender, are different in how they view their own capability and how they promote themselves or put their names into contention for certain roles.

Whilst I tend to try and avoid generalisations, from my own personal recent experience, the female mentees I have worked with tend to demonstrate far greater levels of humility, to the point of underestimating their own capability, and as a result don’t put themselves forward as readily as their male counterparts. That is why I believe that in addition to the investments an individual can make in their own career, companies need to develop a proactive and programmatic approach to ensure that every individual within their organisation is encouraged to be the very best they can be, whatever their personal level of ambition is.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here.

 

 


Christian Edelmann

HeForShe: Christian Edelmann | Co-Head EMEA Financial Services, Oliver Wyman; Executive Sponsor of Oliver Wyman’s Women’s Network; & Co-Founder of Men4Change

Christian Edelmann

Christian Edelmann is Co-Head EMEA Financial Services & Global Head Wealth & Asset Management practice at Oliver Wyman.

He is also the Executive Sponsor of Oliver Wyman’s Women’s Network and a co-founder of Men4Change, a network to create and support male allies and advocates for gender equality in the workplace. To find out more about Men4Change and get involved, contact [email protected]

Why I became an advocate for gender diversity

My wife first introduced me to the challenges women can face in the workplace when they are in the minority. She opened my eyes to the lack of gender diversity in most businesses.

I work in the financial services sector, where this is a particular problem. At Oliver Wyman, we’ve been examining the representation of women in senior roles in financial services since 2014. Back then, we found that on average 13 percent of executive committees were women, a number which grew to 20 percent in 2019.

While this is change in the right direction, the pace is too slow: at this rate, it would be 2035 before we achieve gender balance on executive committees at financial services companies. This is, quite simply, not good enough.

Men must support gender equality in the workplace

I’ve been serving as the executive sponsor of Oliver Wyman’s women’s network, WOW, for nearly four years. As a team we are clear about what needs to be done next to accelerate gender equalisation, and it’s not just more activities for women. It’s greater engagement from men.

This makes sense because men still make up most of the world’s biggest companies, especially at the executive level. We must get involved if the whole business is to benefit from inclusion and diversity.

In management consulting, we are addressing some of the toughest problems businesses face. From digitalisation to Brexit to climate change, solutions come from having creative teams. This creativity comes from having a diversity of ideas and perspectives, and an environment of inclusion where people feel able to share their ideas.

Engaging other men in conversations on gender equality

I’ve always felt very welcomed to conversations around gender equality at Oliver Wyman, in part because I am not afraid to raise the subject and ask questions. When I don’t understand something my network of female colleagues have always been willing to invest their time to educate me, for example by sharing their experiences.

Our women’s network has always been open to all genders, but to increase the engagement of men they’ve helped establish Men4Change. This is a forum where men can start to better understand the challenges facing women, get involved with the debate, have their questions answered, and find out tangible steps they can take to make a difference.

When engaging with men, we make it clear that we are not assigning blame. The purpose is to create empowered champions of inclusion, not to reprimand men for the problem. This approach is helping Men4Change expand its reach beyond those who are already interested in diversity. However, encouraging participation from disinterested or passive individuals remains a huge challenge.

The role I play in career development

For most of my time at Oliver Wyman, I have mentored equal numbers of men and women. Now, I actively mentor two female colleagues and am lightly involved advising another half dozen.

I’ve read in the media that some women are less likely than men to put themselves forward for jobs that are very senior or out of their comfort zones. I hope that my efforts in mentoring individuals and sponsoring our women’s network have helped create an environment where everyone feels heard, valued, and able to take up new challenges.

Additionally, we’re looking at supporting career development through sponsorship. Sponsors not only ensure that women are pushing themselves forward, but also use their seniority to actively help them advance.

The future of gender equality in the workplace

Looking ahead, we’re seeing gender-based targets within businesses become more granular: they are no longer looking at senior leadership alone, but increasingly every step of the career ladder. Nurturing the talent pipeline in this way will accelerate the journey towards equality, but, as men are most often at the top of businesses, they need to lead it.

Beyond counting the number of women at each level of the business, executive teams are starting to want to better measure firm culture, as this strongly determines women will stay within the firm in the long term. I expect we’ll see more efforts to track in real-time behaviours and attitudes and identify the drivers behind them. Armed with this information, companies can re-shape their workplace cultures to be more welcoming and inclusive of everyone.