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7 Questions with Neil Milliken
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7 Questions with Neil Milliken
Name: Neil Milliken
Current title: Global Head of Accessibility & Digital Inclusion
Current organisation: Atos
Neil Milliken is Global Head of Accessibility at Atos His role is to help make the world a better place by delivering better technology for customers and staff, embedding inclusive practice into the processes of organisations with thousands of employees and turnovers of billions.
Neil delivers strategy and services working with a wide range of clients helping them to develop policies, processes, and technology solutions to meet the needs of their staff and customers.
He is the Atos representative on the Business Disability Forum Technology Task Force Neil is also an invited expert for the W3C Cognitive Accessibility Taskforce & member of the Atos Scientific Community & Atos Distinguished Expert .
He is co-founder of AXSChat Europe’s largest twitter chat with a focus on Accessibility & Inclusion. Neil is a member of the Board of Directors for World Institute on Disability, Board Chair at Genius Within & Chair of the Diversity Board for Institute of Coding.
Neil was named in the top ten of the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 list in 2018 and was named D&I practitioner of the year in the 2019 Disability Smart Awards.
Neil is dyslexic and has ADHD, he advocates for people with neurodivergent conditions as well as other disabilities and additional needs.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Navigating complexity and cultural differences in an organisation that spans 75 countries and 110,000 employees makes it imperative to try and break out of a silo mentality but this is a two way process.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I have followed an entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial path. Externally I have co-founded a social enterprise and internally I have followed the same kind of growth mindset looking at the organisation I work in as the first market to address and growing accessibility and digital inclusion as a start up within the larger organisation.
A willingness to take risks, back people's ideas and my own convictions with commensurate accountability has helped me to gain a reputation for innovation and leadership. Large organisations are traditionally more risk averse and my background in SMEs and startups has informed how I work, I believe this has played a role in my progress to executive management.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I have ADHD so maintaining routine and structure is very important to me. I am typically awake before 6 am - the time between then and 7.30 is gentle cogitation, breakfast and catching up on news, a quick dip into the social media feeds and a chance to respond to messages.
Between 7.30 and 8.00 I am usually starting my working day going through my calendar and responding to any urgent messages.
I have a lot of meetings - between 12 and 16 meetings per day and I am reliant on my PA and calendar management to ensure that I am on top of my schedule.
Tasks and reminders are only helpful if you have time to complete them so I block time in my schedule for task completion.
I usually have an early lunch before 12:00 before working through until around 6pm
I usually take a couple of hours to exercise and relax and make some food. From 8:30 - 9pm I am usually reading or checking in on social media. This is a good time for thinking and I am in a relaxed working mode. I will send a few emails and ping a few messages to colleagues in other time zones but meetings are not so common.
I usually retire for the night around 10:30 and watch news or maybe documentaries until I sleep around 11:30 to 12:00
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Failure is not final and it can actually be the thing that teaches you what you need to do in order to be successful in the long run.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
It's very difficult to choose only one as there are many that deserve a mention.
"No Straight Lines By" Alan Moore really resonated with me as it was reimagining business and society, Alan's thinking was ahead of its time and what was rather radical nearly 10 years ago is becoming business orthodoxy as we start to see more businesses adopting a triple bottom line.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Trust people, empower them to take decisions and educate them.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
Being open about my dyslexia and ADHD has allowed me to open doors. Whilst some things are markedly more difficult for me I also benefit from a different way of thinking which I feel has given me the ability to see opportunity where others don't.
I also think that people really value authenticity and being open about my neurodiversity has helped others to see that it's ok to be human.