Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston

Chief of Air Staff, Royal Air Force

5 May 2022

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston


Succession Planning

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston

Do targets matter?

I’m a firm believer in you cannot manage what you don’t measure.  And you measure it; you set a target against it, an ambitious target, and then you then you orientate the organisation to go after that.  And I’ve set targets for the next five years and the next ten years that are rightly ambitious, that will stress the organisation, and then we will bend ourselves out of shape to achieve them.

But we will get there. And the most stressing target was the target over the last year, we’ve increased our recruiting of women over the last year from what have been historically around 10 to 15% to 20% – so one in five of the people that joined the Royal Air Force last year were women. And I’ve set the same levels of ambition at every rank level and most importantly, at the most at the most senior levels, including getting women onto my executive board and onto my main board.

Is better gender representation a strategic issue for you and the Royal Air Force?

I’m determined to make a difference in my time as Chief of the Air Staff.  I look on it as a strategic issue for the Royal Air Force.

Of course, it matters at a personal level, so that anybody can be themselves and reach their full potential in the Air Force.  But it’s a strategic issue because it’s about leaving the right legacy for my successors. And I look at the future and I see an intensely competitive employment market and we have to compete for the widest pool of talent from any background, any gender in the UK workforce. 

Welcome to 25×25 and can you tell us why the Royal Air Force has joined?

I’m delighted to be a Lead Ambassador.  For me, it is a strategic issue for the Royal Air Force. It’s important at a personal level to get the most out of our people and give them every opportunity to reach their full potential.

What has the Royal Air Force done to improve opportunities for women?

We operate in a fiercely competitive recruitment market and I have to attract talent from across the range of the UK employment pool, and that requires us to be as attractive an employer to women or people from any background as it is to young white men.  In the higher rank levels, it’s making sure that we’re not artificially restricting roles that people can do.