Rising Stars: What happened next for Victoria Cope

Victoria Cope

WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star Awards are now in their sixth year.

The Rising Star awards were introduced to showcase the UK pipeline of female talent below management and to create female 100 role models across 25 different industries and professions.

Over the year’s, the awards have recognised over 500 women across the UK and India.

In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a Rising Star award.

We spoke to Victoria Cope, who won a Rising Star in Defence Award in 2019.

Victoria is an experienced senior leader, with a multidisciplinary background and track record of achievement. Focused on strategic commercial leadership and effective relationship management to deliver tangible results for businesses and individuals alike.

Victoria has over 15 years’ experience in the Aerospace and Defence sector and has worked within corporate procurement, finance, sales, commercial, programme management and investor relations functions within FTSE100/250 organisations including BAE Systems, QinetiQ, Airbus and Unilever.

Victoria’s achievements were recognised by The Times & Sunday Times in 2019 as winner of We Are the City Top 100 Women Rising Star 2019 – Defence. Victoria was also awarded the Marshall of Cambridge Medal by the Duke of Edinburgh in 2012 for contribution to the aerospace industry.

Victoria is a chartered Aeronautical Engineer by background and holds an Executive MBA from Henley Business School.  Victoria is a Non-Executive Council Member of The Air League Trust and trustee of the Inspiring Leadership Trust and plays competitive badminton in her spare time.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a Rising Star award?

I was truly honoured and overwhelmed to have been awarded the Rising Star Defence Award, in particular in such strong company of outstanding finalists from across the industry. Receiving the award was the highlight of 2019 for me.

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the Rising Star awards?

My employer BAE Systems, and industry trade bodies profiled my achievements and the award through their intranet and social media channels.

My employer further recognised my potential by placing me on the Emerging Leaders Programme in conjunction with INSEAD Business School, supporting my aspiration to achieve Group Director.

Following the Rising Star Award I was also recognised as a Global finalist for the International Association of Contract and Commercial Management – Innovation and Excellence Global Personal Award 2019.

What advice would you give to someone else going through our award’s process?

My advice to others going through the awards process, is to think about your key achievements and those things you are most proud of and clearly articulate your personal impact to your organisation and wider society. Ask those trusted people around you for feedback and you may be surprised about the characteristics in you which they value most. Enjoy the process; it’s a fantastic achievement in itself to have been nominated for an award – this is your chance to shout about your own success in order to inspire and support others progression. As a winner there are some amazing development and networking opportunities – back yourself and make the best of every opportunity offered to you through this process.

What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?

  1. Take a risk and push yourself out of your comfort zone

The biggest risks are those that you will learn the most from, regardless of the outcome. Calculate the risk and understand the potential impact both positive and negative. Position yourself to maximize success, surrounding yourself with the right people around you at work and at home who can support you to succeed.

  1. Take and maximize every opportunity that is offered to you

Career paths don’t necessarily run in straight lines. You will have been selected for opportunities offered to you for your skill and competency. As long as it’s a step forward towards your end goal, take the chance to succeed. Don’t say no just because it’s not on the list.

  1. Ask directly for what you want

Women are noted for not directly asking for what they really want in a career context. Be clear, set expectations and ask directly for what you want and need from those around you. Hearing ‘no’ is sometimes the ‘worst’ that can happen – at least you know where you are and can have a constructive conversation about how to get ahead.

  1. Aim high

Set your development goals and plan for the role you want in ten years’ time. Know the competency and skills required and set a career path to achieve them – starting now. Achieving progression towards those high level goals will mean that if you go for the job one/two above your current role you will already be demonstrating out performance compared to your peers.

  1. You are good enough – believe it

Women tend to want to ‘tick off’ the entire job description for a new role five times over before applying. Think about your experiences to date at all levels, leverage them and sell them clearly. Take a chance – apply for the role!


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