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Amplifying Voices: Jonny Sammut’s Path To Purposeful Allyship


Jonny Sammut
Director of Digital Services
Welsh Ambulance Service NHS trust

by Bernie Clarke

25 March 2024

Jonny Sammut is the Director of Digital Services for the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust. He joined the organisation in September 2023, bringing with him over two decades of experience in data and digital roles across various sectors.


A Varied Career Path


Jonny’s career path has been quite diverse. Before joining the Welsh Ambulance Service, he was the Chief of Digital and Innovation at North West Ambulance Service. Prior to that, he worked in the private sector, including roles as the BI Director at an occupational health business called Health Management Limited, and stints at Capita and Aviva Life and Pensions.

“I’ve had quite a varied career, actually…I’ve been in various sectors, various areas, but always having a digital centred role over the last two decades,” Jonny explained.


Recognising Privilege and Inequality


Despite his accomplished career, Jonny didn’t always recognise the concept of privilege until a particular experience opened his eyes. He recalled an instance from a few years ago when he was in the private sector, coaching a woman who was the only female on a technology team of about 50 men.

“One of the first things she said to me was there’s no point in trying to learn or progress further because I’m not a man, I simply won’t fit into this world. It’s always stuck with me because I thought what a sad, sad state of affairs that the world is in, if that’s what someone is sat there feeling,” Jonny shared.

This experience was a wake-up call for Jonny, and he started to challenge bad behaviours he witnessed. “It hit me like a brick. The minute you start to delve into the world of allyship and some of the inequalities, you start to surface these terms like privilege, and you start to really think about that.”


The Importance of Listening and Amplifying Voices


For Jonny, allyship is about listening and amplifying voices that may not be heard. “I think the big thing for me was always around listening. And I think it was around trying to amplify voices…it’s not that nobody has a voice, but sometimes everything else in that room can be so overpowering that it requires that that additional support or amplifying.”

He emphasised the power of using one’s privilege and position to create space for others. “It’s a case of can I share resources? I guess sometimes that feels like it’s not enough. But when I reflect back, sometimes I think that it helps.”


Taking Incremental Steps


In meetings, Jonny would make efforts to ensure the woman on his team had a voice, without drawing too much attention to her. “We tried delicately in some of the initial meetings just to not make it too awkward in terms of highlighting her. But trying to just ask ‘what have you got to contribute’, or going to her first in terms of when I’m looking for or seeking feedback.”

He acknowledged that change doesn’t happen overnight, but these small steps helped build her confidence over time. “It was a steady, steady thing over time, it’s not an overnight fix, and it won’t be. It just takes time, I think.”


Overcoming Personal Challenges


Jonny’s own experiences with marginalisation as an immigrant from Malta have shaped his approach to leadership. He recounted being the butt of jokes and referred to as “the Malteser” during his school years.

“You kind of laugh at it, but actually the more you think about it, the more it would have subconsciously played in my mind, or put me in a certain place or made it harder for me to jump up,” he reflected.

These experiences have taught him the value of pausing, listening, and observing – skills he considers the most powerful in his career.

Like many leaders, Jonny has grappled with impostor syndrome throughout his career. His strategy for coping with these feelings is to “pause, listen, take it in and then it’s that rate of self-reaffirmation…of you are doing a good job. You do deserve to be here.”


Advice for Aspiring Allies


When asked for advice for those starting their allyship journey, Jonny emphasised the importance of observation and speaking up. “I think the biggest advice I can give to anyone starting that journey or even on that journey would just be to continue to listen and just observe what’s going on in front of you. That was the biggest wake up call for me – seeing it and hearing it from someone else’s perspective was incredibly powerful.”

He encouraged others not to wait for someone else to take action. “There’s always a route to be able to speak up and get that message heard some way. Don’t wait for others to try and do that because that won’t always happen.”

Through his varied career experiences and personal challenges, Jonny Sammut has developed a deep understanding of the importance of allyship. By listening, amplifying voices, and using his privilege to create space for others, he has become a powerful ally in the fight against inequality and marginalisation.

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