Leaders Plus Profile

Nick Wilkie – CEO NCT


Childcare arrangements: now: nursery, school and The Incredible Amanda at the start and end of the day; we shared parental leave equally over the first 18 months of our kids’ lives. I loved being off for a year with our first and found the second time round with our next two really hard and confidence-sapping.

Children: Harry, just 6; Daisy and Tom, nearly 4

Twitter handle: @nickwilkienct


1.       Has your leadership style changed after having children?

I’m wary of drawing neat lines between work and home because I’m not sure that negotiating and herding three small Wilkies is that analogous to trying to lead NCT and relating to adult colleagues. But I hope and (like to) think I’ve softened and opened up a little bit since becoming a father. Being a parent feels like a constant reminder that human powers of reception tend to be more sensitive than our broadcasting abilities are subtle. So it’s a good reminder (albeit not heeded as much as it might be)  to take care in communication and pitch.

2.  Why do you know you are a good enough parent?

I’m pretty confident our three know they are loved unconditionally. And they get read to a lot. Love and language feel like good enough starting points.

3.  When do you love combining leadership roles with caring for children?

Being a leader (and perhaps especially a chief executive) you can’t half find yourself being pompous at points in the day. So I love how the long littleness of a lot of parenting – and the almost complete lack of control and importance in one’s children’s eyes – punctures that on a daily and often hourly basis. Parenting may well be the most important job in the world. Yet it brilliantly undermines any sense of self-importance and makes me take myself a lot less seriously.

4.       Tell us about a memorable Leader with Baby moment.

No single great one-off.  Lots of arriving for Important Meetings only to realize that my left shoulder is porridge stained. (See answer above.)

5.       What is the biggest barrier you have overcome?

I’m not sure I’ve overcome great barriers but I’m definitely an advert for application over talent.

6.       What do you admire in parents?

An endless capacity for love

7.       Do you experience feelings of guilt?

I’m afraid I don’t. Though actually writing that down makes me feel a bit guilty.

8.       What advice would you give to your younger self?

In hindsight you’ll nearly always wish you’d been braver not more cautious in any given situation, so try and default to bold (whilst being sure to listen first)

9. What are you still hoping for?

Oh everything. Reducing inequality. Increasing kindness. Daisy (our girl twin) having the same opportunities as Tom (boy twin). Re-balancing the UK economy in a post-industrial age. All parents being supported across the first thousand days (and beyond). I could go on and on.  I’m a massive long-term optimist because I think the human mind is an extraordinary thing. Hemingway was right: the world is full of wonderful people and worth fighting for.

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