Interview with Gillian Wilmot CBE, Chairman of Xpediator plc
Xpediator Chairman Gillian Wilmot was awarded a CBE in the King’s 2023 New Year Honours List for Services to Business, to Entrepreneurship and to the Prevention of Online Gambling. We asked her about this and her career in general.
Congratulations Gillian. Please tell us about receiving this honour:
Thank you. It came as a lovely surprise and I have to say I am delighted to have received it. The award is decided by an independent committee and I believe I was chosen due to my work over the years in a number of areas, including working generally with businesses, with a focus on supporting and mentoring entrepreneurs. I was also a member of the Industrial Development Advisory Board for 9 years, a statutory body which works with the Dept of Business and Ministers to review business cases and advise Ministers. In addition, for 5 years, I worked with Senet where I persuaded a number of CEOs to sign up to the Safer Gambling commitments, including providing funding for education and prevention, and led the complex multi-stakeholder work to successfully re-align the industry to these protocols.
Can you give us a brief overview of your career to date?
I came from quite an ordinary background and I started working at 14 and managed to save enough to put myself through university where I studied Business. My first employer was Marks and Spencer and from there on I worked my way up in the retail sector, where one of my first major breaks was launching the Next Directory. I have held positions of Marketing Director and CEO, and my last full-time role was Managing Director of Royal Mail’s Mail Markets division. Since then, I have been working in non-executive roles.
I have strategic and operational experience in multiple sectors; Technology/Digital, Media/Entertainment, Logistics, Energy, Sport, Retail, Leisure, Financial Services. In more recent years I have focused on the technology sector and digital transformation.
Did you always know you were going to embark on a career in business?
I always knew that business was going to be something I would go into. I very much enjoy the intellectual challenges but it is interacting and relating to people, which for me, has been the most fulfilling aspect to the different roles I have taken on over the years.
What advice would you give to young people starting out in business?
Be clear on what you want to achieve and where you are heading, but also be curious and open to new opportunities when they present themselves. Accept any opportunity to learn, even from those younger than you. Be positive. It has been proven that optimists live longer than pessimists!
And is there anything you would say to young women looking to start out in the business world?
It is important not to just work hard and do a good job, but to ensure you get recognition for what you do. Understand how organisations value their colleagues and how progression works. Women being more agreeable and modest does not serve promotion prospects in the workplace.
The gender pay gap is still very relevant; Women make 82p to a Man’s £1. I started working in the 80s and a lot of things have not changed; the same rules for human engagement still stand. Women need to be aware of how to position themselves in a place to succeed.
You have now been Chairman of Xpediator Group for 8 months, what is your view of the Company?
Xpediator is a lot of businesses under quite a large umbrella, across central and eastern Europe to the UK, many having not met each other despite being in the same Group.
I have enjoyed my role tremendously so far. I have worked with very good people here and believe the Company has a great deal of potential to continue to grow. People have embraced the recent challenges, and the Group is in better shape because of it, thanks to the work of everyone in the organisation.