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Celebrating International Women's Day 2023

International Women's Day (IWD) takes place on the 8 March every year and the ICB was proud to take part in the global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

The themes for IWD 2023 included 'Embrace Equity' and 'DigitALL: innovation and technology for gender equality', with the latter observing the United Nations' recognition of women and girls who are championing the advancement of technology and digital education.

Below we have shared some stories and inspiring messages from ICB staff and NHS partners. Some of them have a background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and were keen to share their advice to women and girls looking to pursue careers in STEM. 

Aligned to the 'DigitALL' theme, the ICB is also pleased to announce our commitment to supporting women from ethnic minorities to build careers in the growing field of digital health. The ICB in partnership with the Shuri Network are creating up to four new Shuri Network fellowships, to help women from minority ethnic backgrounds develop their skills in an area where they are under-represented. Read more about this here.

My career journey

I am a Mental Health Nurse – and I am proud to be part of that profession. It is an honour and a privilege to be a nurse. I never lose sight of that fact.

When I was young my cousin was diagnosed with a severe and enduring mental illness, and I can recall how difficult this was for him and for the family to learn all about this illness and how to navigate a way forward. No-one in the family had had such an experience and it was scary – no-one knew what to expect or what lay ahead.

I knew from an early age, that I wanted to learn more about mental health, and I made myself a promise that I would explore this, and that I would do what I could to make sure that people who experience mental ill health are offered services that are empathic and see the whole person. That belief that we need to see the whole person, to be kind and to strive for the best outcomes has never left me.

I began my career in CNTW as a support worker on a newly established Complex Needs ward, the aim of the ward was to support complex adult patients who had a long history of being on secure units into an open rehabilitation ward. From there I was lucky enough to be seconded into my Nurse Training as an RMN.

Upon qualifying I initially worked on an adult intensive care ward, and I really enjoyed work within this setting seeing people prosper with nurture and support. I was then offered an opportunity to work as a Staff Nurse post on a male medium secure unit. Again, this allowed me to collaborate with a complex client group – with a history of serious criminal offences and I relished opportunities to ensure that those clients were supported to engage in therapeutic packages that would allow them to move onto less secure environments. From there I was offered an opportunity to work on a newly opened adolescent medium secure unit. I loved every moment of working with the young people who entered the service and took pride in seeing them achieve their potential.

From there I moved into a community young persons drug and alcohol service which offered an opportunity to work with young people and their families and within a young person's looked after service. Until I eventually moved into a role as a Safeguarding and Public Protection Lead for children and adults within the Safeguarding Team at CNTW.

All the wards, services and teams I worked on within CNTW provided me with their own unique wisdom and opportunity to learn from service users and their families – and for me that knowledge will remain with me. I will always advocate for inclusive mental health support and strive to ensure that I champion conversations around mental health.

I was then fortunate enough to join Newcastle and Gateshead CCG – as the safeguarding advisor for children and adults. This was a learning curve after over 33 years of working within CNTW. I have been blessed to be supported by amazing managers Trina Holcroft and Richard Scott, both of whom I feel I can trust to support me but also to let me fly and be autonomous, and whose gentle but consistent guidance is constant.

In November 2021, I was appointed as the Exploitation Safeguarding Nurse – and I can say with all honesty it is my dream job. I feel honoured to hold the role, and to have the opportunity to collaborate with victims of all ages. Within my role I work within a Multi-Agency Exploitation Hub based in Newcastle, but we cover all of the Northumbria Police Force area and work with children and adults who are at risk of or actually experiencing exploitation in all of its forms.

On a daily basis I am humbled and moved by the experiences of children, young people and adults in our region. I see so much pain and distress and hear of such heartache, yet still these most vulnerable and complex individuals rise up to face another day.

I see it as pivotal to my role to advocate for each of them and to ensure that their voice is heard, even if it is a message we may not want to hear. It is pivotal that we offer opportunities and solutions so that their voice can be heard.

Sometimes this takes courageous conversations and if I am honest with you, we do not always get it right. But each day, I also rise up and I am grateful for the opportunity to reach out and support, to be the loudest voice in the room if I need to be, and to continue day by day to support our most vulnerable people. That is my job, and I am privileged to do it.

Inspirational Women

International Inspirational Woman Day 2023 is an opportunity to shine a light on amazing women and other marginalised groups. How fortunate we are to have so many amazing women and girls to celebrate! This is a dangerous subject to set me off on, as I could fill a hundred pages and more with people who inspire me, but to name just a few: I would shine a light on Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani education advocate who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban. Her bravery is inspiring. Ann Frank, who inspires me with her astounding quotes including "I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart." Her faith and compassion is inspiring. Maya Angelou, a civil rights activist, poet and singer whose quotes I often use in my training. Sara Rowbotham, the former NHS worker who whistle blew and helped to expose sexual exploitation in Rotherham, and "Lucy" the child who rocked my world as I watched The Piano. Her performance was exquisite.

Other women who inspire me – Trina Holcroft – Designated Nurse for Safeguarding Children in the ICB for her passion and commitment to safeguarding children, Karen Hutchinson – Named GP for her passion and commitment to safeguarding adults. Sam Keith and Kerry Cooke in Newcastle City Council for tirelessly campaigning and raising the bar in relation to exploitation. Lynne Colledge, Detective Chief Inspector Safeguarding Northumbria Police for her leadership in safeguarding. Luisa Alvarez, Debra Cowey and the staff who work in GAP and Changing Lives for their passionate support of those who are sex working/ survival sex working and / or exploited. My daughter Holly, who is a wonderful, gentle and idealistic young woman, who fills my heart with joy and inspires me on daily basis to be a better person. I am humbled and inspired by all the individuals and families (whatever their identity) who are at risk or are actually experiencing exploitation. I hope that in some small way I can honour their story, their personal experience and do all I can to raise their voice up and to be effective in making a difference.

Theme of International Women's Day 2023

The theme for International Women's Day, 8th March 2023 is Digitall: Innovation and technology for gender equality. This theme is aligned closely with the work we all do. I believe that all children, young people and adults should be enabled to safely enjoy the benefits that technology can offer. The key is safety. Online exploitation is a key theme for the work I am involved in, and it is pivotal that we as partners across the ICB take every opportunity to support opportunities for everyone to be able to enjoy a life free from harm, and that includes our safety online. Anyone of us can fall victim to exploitation – so the earlier we can talk about exploitation and educate about online safety the better. The more we do talk, the more we can ensure everyone has a voice. That is what I see as a pivotal part of my role, to give people voices and choices, and for those who feel they cannot have a voice, to be their voice until such time they feel enabled to be heard on their own.

Exploitation is a global crime, both in person and online. It is happening within every region, every area. So, today on International Women Day I welcome the opportunity to join with you to celebrate amazing people everywhere and to know that you will join me in moving mountains so that we can create a path to braver and brighter future for vulnerable people everywhere – and to ensure that our ICB leads the way to safeguard victims of exploitation.

I leave you with one of my favourite Maya Angelou quotes –

"I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel"

For those who are victims of exploitation I want them to feel safe, to feel heard and to feel cared for. For those professionals who come into contact with victims of exploitation, I want them to feel enabled, supported, educated and empowered to act with gentleness, with passionate commitment, empathy and courage. I hope that this is the legacy that our ICB creates.

What's your earliest memory of being excited by science/technology/ engineering/maths?

Together we make our future, but it is our past that shapes us and our experiences that make us who we are.

My Grandmother worked weekends at Newcastle racecourse on the "TOTE" - My love of mathematics would start here – watching the horse racing whilst trying to work out the winnings before my grandma did was a great game and a brilliant way to learn mental arithmetic.

As a people person, I love to work with individuals and teams from all different walks of life who can bring different skills and experience to the table, challenge thinking and maximise outcomes. My creative side loves a vision, a project, an opportunity and exploring new things.

I have had a fantastic career and have been in the fortunate and privileged position of loving my work and utilising all the skills that are important to me in every role I have undertaken - there have of course been challenges, among them challenges that were gender related but channelling my relentless positive attitude and resilience has ensured survival.

What was your career route to the role you have today?

I started my career as a Work Study Engineer for a clothing Manufacturer in Newcastle. Drive and determination saw me become one of the youngest Production Managers in Manufacturing, something which I am still very proud of today, before I took a career break to have my family.

Never being a person to sit still for long I took up a part time role as a receptionist in Accident and Emergency for 3 hours each evening whilst my husband looked after the children. My NHS Career journey started, and I never looked back.

I worked in several roles at my local hospital gaining experience across lots of different areas - outpatients supervisor, cancer waiting list co-ordinator and Patient Advice and Liaison Manager across both commissioning and provider organisations - I was hooked – I knew I had found my calling …. The NHS and feeling like the job I was doing made a real difference to local people.

After a couple of years, I was asked if I would be interested in joining the HR and OD team and the Organisational Development Manager. I loved working with people, and I thought this was a perfect opportunity to share my learning and make a positive impact to the learning journey of others.

I recall being extremely nervous when I started, but my focus quickly shifted to an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, pride, and fulfilment.  For the first time in my life my internal sense of self was aligned with my external doing.

OD allows you to work with all disciplines and learn different skills – I have always been eager to add breadth and depth to my career so when the opportunity came to take on the leadership of Primary Care and working more closely with Clinicians I was delighted. Becoming the Director of People and Primary Care for Sunderland CCG and working alongside a team of amazing people is one of my greatest achievements in my career to date.

Change is the only constant - as the new Integrated Care Board evolves my new role as the Director of Place for South Tyneside brings yet more opportunities. I always say people are an organisations greatest asset and we have great people, great teams and great partners all working together to make a difference and improve outcomes for our citizens – I guess you could say I am NHS through and through!

Do you have any advice for girls who may want to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or maths?

Remember the future is everything you can imagine it to be

I was driven by a commitment to equality, social justice and an unshakeable belief that by working together it is possible to change the world. I still believe that.

How have women you've worked with influenced your career?

‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it’ a phrase we often hear when we are talking about the lack of women in the board room, at the top table or in top jobs. But that is what is so wonderful about the NHS it is full of amazing women, changing lives and making a difference! 

I have been privileged to work for and with some amazing women throughout my career and they have not only inspired me with their strength of leadership but also supported and encouraged me to fulfil my ambition and be a valued and highly motivated Director for the NHS

Which woman (past or present) is your greatest inspiration and why (either personally or professionally)?

Winifred Henderson (nee Turnbull) – you won’t have heard of her; Winnie was born in 1900 to a working-class family living in Gateshead and she was the eldest of 6 siblings.  She worked at a print works and bookbinders on the quayside and in her early twenties she acted as a shop steward, leading a strike for better factory conditions – the cause was won but Winnie was sacked – branded as troublemaker who had too much influence over the young women she worked with. She was thirty when she married, and she gave birth to a daughter 5 years later.  Her father and younger brother lived with her and her family while she continued to work, chaired the local women’s guild and was a pillar of the church community. Winne was my grandmother.

As my mother was seriously ill when I was born and I am the youngest of four children, I spent most of my younger life with my grandma. She was a talented seamstress, a fantastic cook and brilliant at mental arithmetic, which saw her work at the "bookies" to earn extra cash to provide for the family. My love of mathematics would start here – going to Newcastle racecourse on a weekend and trying to work out the winnings was great fun.

My grandma was astute and intelligent, she was passionate in her belief in the transformative power of education and very conscious that this was an opportunity she never had – she constantly encouraged me to ‘stick in’, to pass my exams, to take each precious opportunity as it presented itself. Although my Grandma died when I was still young my core values were formed and from her, I learnt much of what continues to define my leadership journey 

My grandmother didn’t live to see that girl become a woman, but as she would have wanted, I was one of the youngest women to become a Production Manager in manufacturing. Thanks to inheriting her tenacity to seize opportunities and alongside my passion to make a difference and help people, I was also able to pursue a successful career in the NHS.

Do you have an International Women's Day message?

Stay true to the things you believe in and be prepared to stand up for them when the occasion demands it. Value opportunities and take them, make the most of them and have a strong work ethic. …. and perhaps most importantly treat people with respect as this is the key to successful leadership.

Leadership is a collaborative art from – you can’t do it by yourself – even the greatest leaders have an army of advisors, writers, managers, and teams working with them. 

What's your earliest memory of being excited by science/technology/ engineering/maths?

When I left school at 18, I started to work at the Health Service at Northgate Hospital as patients’ monies assistant, this was 30 years ago. We had no real network and limited technology onsite. Three people were hired from external companies who were database and IT experts this was revolutionary.

The trust was forward thinking and had a project to progress IT and it’s benefits which led to us building systems, using technology for all sorts of functions including finance, HR and procurement. This really interested me as it was all new and could lead to connecting the hospital as it never had been. We used a global company called Oracle for the systems and I was lucky enough to be asked to join the project with the possibilities seeming endless!

What was your career route to the role you have today?

I stayed at Northgate for the delivery of the projects and was lucky to be given database and infrastructure training where I met some people from Northern Electric who encouraged me to apply for my next role. It was a male dominated department with me being the only female on the team. I believe I was partially taken on for that and whilst on call was always called out however, I was part of an amazing set of technology engineers who taught me so much and we had a great time working together. It was always interesting, and I am still friends with all of them 25+ years later.

From here I worked as an IT consultant based down in Mellon Bank in Brentwood and Cambridge University which was a very different experience to where I had worked before, and I was travelling. I moved to EDS that became Hewlett Packard and latterly DXC, a global IT company where I held many roles over a period of 20 years.

I moved from being an engineer to a manager of highly skilled engineers and lead the work portfolio. There were some amazing projects that I worked on with my team across a wide customer base, a few that come to mind:

  • MOD
  • DWP
  • MOJ
  • Home Office
  • BMW and Chrysler (automated cars)
  • Fintech (which was a lot more interesting than you’d think)
  • Retail e.g. Ted Baker, Thorntons Chocolates

We were also involved in helping a MND sufferer from beginning to digitise their life and worked with charities to get people in to work helping them with digital skills. 

I applied for this job on the back of delivering a long and difficult project on smart meters and felt I’d like to have more of an impact locally during the pandemic.

Do you have any advice for girls who may want to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or maths?

Go for it as you never know where it will take you. I’ve worked with incredible people, companies, projects that have enriched my life both professionally and personally. I’m always learning.

How have women you've worked with influenced your career?

There was hardly any women within my industry years ago and so the few I have worked with/for have all influenced me. They encouraged me and made me realise that we are capable and bring different things to the table and that we need to encourage more women into the IT workplace.

Which woman is your greatest inspiration and why? 

My greatest inspiration is probably a colleague of mine who worked within IT too, starting as a programmer but who became a EMEA director and an inspirational leader with such a foresight, collaborative and progressive way of working.

Do you have an International Women's Day message? 

Be brave, believe in yourself and be the change you want to see.

What's your earliest memory of being excited by science/technology/ engineering/maths?

When I was in middle school, I learnt about Crystallisation, this is when science got very interesting and exciting for me, learning how crystals form and making my own crystals. I have had a great interest in Crystals ever since.

What was your career route to the role you have today?

My career path today spans working in primary care for over 26 years now. I have worked in Community Pharmacy for 14 years which is where I did my Pharmacy Services Level 3 NVQ, I registered as a Pharmacy Technician in 2010, I then went on to work as a Practice Medicines Manager in a GPs practice for 10 years, then in January 2021 I started as a Pharmacy Technician within the Well up North PCN, I got seconded within this role to Health Education England as a Primary Care Pharmacy Practice Learning Facilitator for the North East and North Cumbria. This role helps support the NENC ICB’s key priorities by helping grow our workforce by collaborating with key stakeholders within the NENC ICB to provide training contributions to support Pre-registration Pharmacy Technician training, and also by supporting primary care pharmacy technicians and educational supervisors by identifying training needs and delivering this training in the Primary Care Pharmacy Technician Support meeting for the North of England that I chair.

With the Well up North PCN I was promoted to PCN Pharmacy Technician Lead in June 2022, this role seen me lead a team of Pre-registration Pharmacy Technicians and Pharmacy Technicians, this role has seen me grow our workforce and seen our team be able to provide more patient centred care into our everyday practice. In September 2022 I become a committee member for the Primary Care Pharmacy Technician committee and Regional Ambassador. In April 2023 I start a new role with Health Education England as Regional Facilitator for the Northeast and Yorkshire for the Pre-registration Pharmacy Technician expansion project.

Do you have any advice for girls who may want to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, or maths?

Believe in yourself always, aim high, keep learning, and don’t ever give up

How have women you've worked with influenced your career?

Women I have worked with have always been positive, so it has given me a positive demeanor in my leadership skills.

Which woman is your greatest inspiration and why?

Emily Davison – She was brave in every situation, she protested for women’s voting rights. She wanted men and women to be equal, she wanted the same opportunities for women as men. Emily inspires me to stand up for what’s right in every situation.

How will you be supporting International Women's Day?

I will be recognising International Women’s Day by changing my teams background, discussing this in our teams meetings, and raising awareness on social media channels.

What's your earliest memory of being excited by science/technology/ engineering/maths?

Since I was young I have always really loved animals and nature, I have also always appreciated challenges and my family helped to encourage my interests in science and maths.

What was your career route to the role you have today?

My career route was a little different than typical in that I studied Civil Engineering and worked as a flood risk engineer for almost 8 years before pursuing a different profession.

While engineering is interesting and essential, it wasn't the right fit for me, so I went back to university and retrained with the ambition of finding a role I was more suited to. My passions lie in social justice and I really enjoy having the opportunity to support others and give back and thus I ended up pursuing a career in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Not only does it involve humanities but it also requires analytical thinking when dealing with data and undertaking qualitative or quantitative assessments, satisfying both my desire for change and my interest in science/mathematics.

Do you have any advice for girls who may want to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or maths?

The best advice I have is not to put too much pressure on yourself and don't confine yourself. There are so many different aspects of STEM and so many different ways that you can be a part of it, just make sure that it's the right fit for you. It's never too late to get involved in STEM but it's also never too late to change direction. The most important thing is finding a role that is fulfilling for you.

How have women you've worked with influenced your career?

I've worked with many different women over the years, and they all have different approaches to different situations. What has struck me the most is that how leading with compassion can make a team stronger and how support and understanding are essential for a happy working environment.

I've seen how ambition and drive can pay off, how to be graceful in difficult circumstances and when to say no. It has helped encourage me to pursue my own interests and helped me to improve how I handle situations and adapt.

Which woman is your greatest inspiration and why?

My aunt is my greatest inspiration. She works as a head of public health in a university abroad and is the hardest working person I know. In addition to that she goes out of her way to support her family. She has shown me what balance and sacrifice look like and the importance of independence and I appreciate the influence she has had on me.

How will you be supporting International Women's Day?

This international women's day, my team and I will are pulling together a supporter video, illustrating the importance of the day within my organisation and highlighting a specific role model who fits the UN IWD 2023 theme Digitall!

What's your earliest memory of being excited by science/technology/ engineering/maths?

My earliest memories of being excited by technology were in the early 1980s, when BBC microcomputers and the BBC Computer Literacy Project were introduced to primary schools.  I was around six or seven years old at the time and this was before home computers were widely available or affordable.

As a small primary school (with less than 40 pupils), we were allocated one computer for shared use across infants and juniors.  I remember being really excited to be able to have my turn (once a week) using the computer, which was set-up on (what seemed like) a huge workstation in the main hall. 

What was your career route to the role you have today?

My earlier career was working in the insurance industry, as an Insurance Clerk. 

When I was in my late 20s and my two children were young, I decided to change career direction and return to education.  Following studying at college, I was successful in gaining a place at the University of Sunderland, studying for a BA (hons) degree in Business Computing, full-time, for three years. 

My degree course was varied and included computer science related modules as well as business focussed elements, all of which I enjoyed.  However, throughout my studies, I developed an interest in project management, which I was keen to pursue as a career following graduation.

I began my NHS career shortly after graduating in 2006, when I joined NHS Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust (PCT), working as a Project Coordinator in the Information Management & Technology department.  I since went on to working for NHS South of Tyne and Wear PCTs and NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS).

I progressed my knowledge and career through embracing ongoing professional development opportunities and through working in various IT, informatics and digital project and programme management related roles.  Through these roles and in my time working for the NHS, I've developed a passion for digitally enabled health and care. 

In 2019, I began my role as Programme Manager for the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) Integrated Care System (ICS) Digital Care Programme, which further enhanced my knowledge and drive for digital transformation.  I'm very proud to have led the refresh and redesign of the NENC ICS Digital Care Strategy during 2020.

I'm delighted to have recently progressed to my current role with NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board in September 2022. - I'm very excited to be part of leading the way in modernising and transforming health and care, through digital innovations, options and opportunities!

Do you have any advice for girls who may want to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or maths?

Yes, go for it! Don't be intimidated by technology! There are lots of exciting career paths to follow, the pace of technological and digital advances means these paths are constantly evolving and expanding.

Perusing careers in digital healthcare provides very exciting opportunities and great job satisfaction - the work we do really does make a positive difference to the quality of health and care!

My advice is to never stop learning!  In my experience, it's important to set realistic and achievable personal goals.

How have women you've worked with influenced your career?

I've had the pleasure of working with some very talented and knowledgeable women throughout my career, all of whom have in part, influenced and inspired my career choices over the years.

Which woman is your greatest inspiration and why?

My grandmother was my greatest inspiration.  She sadly passed away before I started my career journey with the NHS, she always instilled in me that ambition, hard work and determination is key to success, in all parts of life. 

Do you have an International Women's Day message?

Happy International Women's Day 2023!  Acknowledge and celebrate the amazing women in your life!

What's your earliest memory of being excited by science/technology/ engineering/maths?

Seeing my brother build a computer network in his bedroom and thinking it was amazing!

What was your career route to the role you have today?

I've worked full time from being 16 years old. I did a HNC Information Technology around full-time employment in an IT company, then went into a training role with a local authority and was supported by them to complete a BA (Hons) in Business and Management. During my training role I discovered my love for all things people and using technology to help enhance people experiences. I went on to complete my postgraduate in education with some additional training on eLearning solutions and digital communications.

Do you have any advice for girls who may want to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or maths?

Go for it. The world needs more girls in these areas! It's exciting and great to be part of an innovative industry 😊

How have women you've worked with influenced your career?

That's a tricky one. I've learned a lot from all the people I've worked with. Women specifically and my experience, I think the juggling of all the things work and non-work related has positively influenced me. Commitment to work and a good work ethic, sharing this with my children and helping them understand work/life balance so they know you can have both a family and a career you find rewarding and make it work.

Which woman is your greatest inspiration and why? 

Brene Brown. I find her work on compassion and leadership resonates with me and I really like her style 😊

How will you be supporting International Women's Day?

I will be supporting international women's day by sharing my experiences with my colleagues in developmental roles to encourage them to try new things!

What's your earliest memory of being excited by science/technology/ engineering/maths?

I didn't have many toys as a young child but the ones that I did allowed me to make things from my imagination like a box full of generic Lego, which was full of old bricks handed down by older cousins and old Meccano set. I'd use these to try and make or replicate the toys I didn't have, sometimes successfully but often not so successfully but in the process often learning about how things work. When I was in my early teens, I became fascinated by Physics and how it underpins how everything works in nature and also how the subject is linked to deeper questions about what the universe is made out of.

What was your career route to the role you have today?

I studied engineering at university and was interested in designing planes and rockets However, while I was in college, a horrific car accident left one of my best friends from school became permanently disabled. He went through years of rehabilitation and I witnessed very closely how medical technology helped transform his life and got him back to being somewhere close to his old self. I decided I wanted to devote my science and tech skills to developing and improving these kinds of technologies and ended up training in the NHS as a clinical scientist in medical physics and engineering. Working as a clinical scientist and engineer over the years sparked a deeper interest in the processes which enable innovation to thrive in the health service. This has led me to where I am today, working to support all staff in the health and care system to be empowered to bring their innovative ideas to improve the health service.

Do you have any advice for girls who may want to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or maths?

I am heartened to see more and more girls coming into the science, technology, engineering and maths related careers compared with the time I was in my A-levels and university. I believe any stereotypes which may have existed in the past of certain types of careers being associated with a particular gender are thankfully being dismantled now and I would encourage all girls to explore their full potential in these areas. Also, there is sometimes a stereotype of the arts having more creative disciplines within them and I believe science, technology,engineering and maths provide equal opportunities for creativity. If would encourage girls to explore these subjects more and the joy of learning and discovery they bring.

How have women you've worked with influenced your career?

I've been fortunate throughout my career to have worked with fantastic (women) colleagues who have influenced my career in profound ways. Some of these colleagues have been my supervisors, whose emotional intelligence helped me, especially in the early stages of my career, to see my potential, even when I couldn't. Working in the health service, where many of the teams I've been part of, have had women in pivotal roles. In these teams, I have learnt an enormous amount about empathy, team work, respect as well as technical knowledge and skills.

Which woman is your greatest inspiration and why?

I am fortunate to currently work with a number of exceptional women both within the health service and in our partner organisations, who inspire me every day. Outside of work, there are also numerous women who inspire me across many walks of life, e,g, in science, technology, politics, the arts etc. So this is a tough question and I could name someone in each of these domains! However, I would say one of my greatest inspirations from the past comes from Rosa Parks, who set in motion a chain of events which influenced the US civil rights movement. Someone who on the surface may not have had much power but showed the world how one person with conviction can bring change, even when it seems impossible.

How will you be supporting International Women's Day? 

I will be supporting my daughter in making things celebrating IWD for school.

What's your earliest memory of being excited by science/technology/ engineering/maths?

I am a professional (Chartered Engineer) by background, specialising in Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineering. I have always been impressed by the way humankind can develop solutions to major problems or challenges. My earliest memory was the JFK speech on 12th September 1962 when he set the ambition to have a person to go to the moon by the end of the decade (before 1970). This did happen on the 21st July 1969, and it was clearly Engineering skills and capabilities that turned this ambition into a reality.

What was your career route to the role you have today?

I left school at 16 and served a four-year apprenticeship, gaining relevant engineering qualifications and initial work experiences. I then continued to self-develop prompted by the introduction of 'microcomputers' into control systems engineering, this seemed like the future and I wanted to be part of it! This led to me gain additional Information Technology (IT) qualifications which then allowed me to further progress my career and gain other higher level qualifications in organisational change and management development – a sort of "convergence in action". Ultimately the role of A Chief Digital and Information Officer became the result.

Do you have any advice for girls who may want to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or maths?

My advice is simply this, just do it, your only limitation is belief in yourself. Set your sights high (i.e., aim for the Moon) and go for it.

How have women you've worked with influenced your career?

I have worked with many inspirational women who have influenced me and my career, including my wife (Yvonne) who originally suggested I should apply for a role in the NHS back in 2004. It was the best career move I made, there have been, and there are, many other women leaders who I admire and look up to, too many to mention specifically!

Which woman is your greatest inspiration and why?

I would have to say my late mother was the most inspirational woman in my life, as an only child and especially after my parents separated when I was nine years old, my mum brought me up single handed, she gave me the freedom to be what I wanted to be, and taught me the core values that remain as important now as they were as a child – I owe her everything.

Do you have an International Women's Day message?

International Women's Day is a tremendous opportunity to create a movement for good and help to shape our future.

To celebrate International Women’s Day last year we hosted some podcasts hosted by award-winning BBC radio and TV presenter Charlie Charlton with five women openly sharing the ups and downs of juggling home and work life, why they feel passionately about inspiring future generations of women and why we need to keep the spotlight on breaking the bias; as well as their views on the gender pay gap, imposter syndrome, why they love the jobs they do and much, much more.  

It’s a lively, uplifting and sometimes ‘eye opening’ discussion, not to be missed and you can access below.

Listen to our podcast

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