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4th Mar 2021
At Alder Hey, 85% of our workforce are made up of women, including our amazing CEO Louise Shepherd. We want to help forge a gender equal world, celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.
We spoke to some of the incredible, inspiring, strong women who have ‘chosen to challenge’ male dominated professions and work in leadership roles at Alder Hey:
How did you get into your job role? Did you always know that it was what you wanted to do?
After a couple of years as a consultant I emigrated to Australia as a GP because you couldn’t go as a specialist at the time. Later the rules changed and I was able to get my paediatric qualifications recognised in Australia and as part of that I had to work under supervision. I did 6 months on a neonatal unit and then six months of locum as the deputy Medical Director which was half clinical half administration. I realised I was quite good at it and so undertook the Fellowship of Medical Administration training. There came a time when I had to decide if I wanted to be a clinician or administrator. In some ways I wanted to stay as a clinician but because I feel very strongly that clinicians should run hospitals and because I was good at it I felt I had to stay on in administration.
What do you love most about your job role?
It is such a varied role with so many different aspects. I am always being challenged and so it really stretches my knowledge and skills. It has given me a window into a totally different world of management and corporate knowledge. Like clinical work there are days that are so frustrating and then there are days I know I have made a real difference, but that difference is usually either to a group of patients rather than individually or to the staff, supporting them to make a difference.
What would you say to your younger self?
Over time I have learnt that things work themselves out. I don’t lie awake worrying about things on the whole. I can only do my best and so if something goes wrong I apologise, and then work on sorting it out. The only way not to make a mistake is to not make a decision.
Any other comments?
Over the years things have not always gone to plan, like when I had a medical trainee rotation lined up in Cornwall and then my husband got posted by the RAF to northern Scotland and I had to move. But I just made a new plan and adapted as I went along. Whilst it has not been a smooth path I did get a lot of different experiences along the way. So I think I would advise people not to get too upset if their life plan gets blocked or stutters. Just make sure that whatever you are doing becomes a learning experience so that time is not wasted.
I've always had a keen interest in databases from a young age, but I didn't realise the complexity, enormity, or how powerful a tool like data can be until I started looking at real world data.
I started off as a database developer 12 years ago, and because technology constantly evolves, my knowledge and learning base is also constantly expanding. I really enjoy database design and architecture as that is the only time where you get to truly understand the data.
What would I say to my younger self?
Speak up. All opinions are valid, they may not be the right fit this time but ideas trigger thought processes which can potentially lead to something great.
How did you become Interim Divisional Director of Medicine?
I trained as a paediatrician specializing in Paediatric Endocrinology and joined Alder Hey as a Consultant in 2008. Managing the DSD (Children born with Differences of Sexual Development) service in 2013 was my first ‘step up ‘to a leadership role. In 2016 I did a Masters in Health care Leadership (University of Birmingham) where I was introduced to the concept of ‘Compassionate’ leadership and this had a considerable impact on my leadership style and my leadership journey going forward.
What do you love about your role?
As a medic I have the opportunity to care for my patients and as a medical manager I get to work with some inspirational colleagues in my operational role who work tirelessly to improve services for children and their families. I love what I do and very fortunate to have the best of both worlds.
Have the courage to explore new opportunities and believe in yourself. Ask for advice and help and there will always be people who will trust and support you. Be a compassionate leader as it is the key to unlocking difficult problems and also providing a solution.
Alder Hey Children's Charity