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Back to News 7 March 2024

International Women’s Day 2024 profile: Sharon Wilson

Think together, thrive together sits at the heart of everything we do at Tonsley Innovation District. It’s a mantra that has strong synergies with this year’s International Women’s Day theme and we’re pleased to be profiling three women who are not only part of the Tonsley ecosystem but who are making vital contributions towards a future that’s gender equal.

Sharon Wilson has worked for BAE Systems for 33 years. Her current role is Business Development and Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Director, and she shares her thoughts on what this day means in the context of a career spanning more than three decades in a traditionally male industry.

The opportunity to show women they can succeed in technical, male-dominated environments and inspire them to pursue their aspirations is what fuels Sharon Wilson to be a vocal advocate for gender equality in business.

Sharon’s career at BAE Systems spans over three decades and she credits the pivotal role supportive leadership has played in her progression to her current role as Business Development and Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Director.

For Sharon, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reflect and focus on issues still being faced by women and, in particular, the barriers to accessing opportunities in non-traditional industries such as technology and engineering.

"Diversity is proven to have a positive impact on business. Businesses that focus on investing in women reap the rewards through accelerated levels of skills as well as the diversity of perspective. Our younger generation - both male and female - need to see role models in the workplace and see that it is okay to be a smart woman and equally okay to work with smart women. Only through consistent action and proactive messaging will we start to address both the gender gap and gender pay gap."

BAE Systems, Business Development and Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Director, Sharon Wilson

A defining moment in Sharon’s career came when she was challenged to articulate her true career aspirations and ambitions in an interview.

“I was asked about my career development plans and gave the ‘expected’ answer rather than saying what I really wanted,” she said.

“Fortunately, the Managing Director at the time pressed me to answer more truthfully and when I said I wanted to be the program manager he said yes straight away and that was the end of the interview.

"I had never dreamed I would be considered for the role, but I took it on, found it incredibly satisfying personally and received excellent feedback from my stakeholders and customers. The moral of that story is that often others see more in you than you do in yourself."

BAE Systems, Business Development and Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Director, Sharon Wilson

Sharon is motivated to empower other women and facilitate their advancement. When capacity allows, she actively engages in initiatives aimed at accelerating women’s growth, and she has previously served as Chair of a not-for-profit focused on STEM in schools and in particular female participation.

“My aim is to empower women by showing them first-hand that they can thrive in technical, male-dominated environments,” she said.

“Keeping this message current and reinforced is absolutely a priority and I reiterate the message wherever possible such as through presentations, articles and events.

“Only through unwavering action and proactive communication can we truly bridge the gender gap and rectify the gender pay disparity.”


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