I started my career as a hospital pharmacist at Northwick Park Hospital where I was a resident and undertook my MSc in Clinical Pharmacy. I had a good training and grounding there which set me up for a career as a clinical pharmacist specialising mainly in cardiology. After a period in academia undertaking research into the education of clinical pharmacists, I started my career in pharmacy management eventually becoming a chief pharmacist. In that role I was good with budgets and strategy, hence got more involved in corporate projects supporting the trust more widely. That was how I got noticed as someone who may have the potential in a more senior role.
I took on general management roles in addition to being Chief Pharmacist, which got me skilled in this with the safety net of my professional role. I then left that organisation to become a divisional manager leading large divisions in a major London teaching hospital. This helped me develop my leadership and management skills further until I was ready to apply for executive roles.
I am currently Chief Operating Officer with responsibility for clinical operations, performance, emergency preparedness, private practice and service improvement.
The turning point
My first non-pharmacy role was Associate Director of Operations for clinical support which I was able to undertake while still being chief pharmacist. This was an excellent way into a corporate leadership role.
Key barriers/challenges and how I worked through these
It is difficult in some clinical professions to progress, as you have to leave behind your own clinical profession in a way that medics or nurses do not need to do. I have managed to keep my professional links either directly through managing as a pharmacist at the same time as having a leadership role or managing pharmacy in my portfolio. Recently though, I keep involved in my profession through working with my professional body and supporting leadership in the profession.
Organisational support to make this happen
I received access to leadership programmes, in my case The King’s Fund and executive coaching, both of which were invaluable.
My top tips
Get involved in beyond your remit and support your organisation more widely.