Happy International Women’s Day everyone!
This is such a wonderful opportunity to stop and reflect and to celebrate amazing women everywhere. I am reminded of the many different women in my own life, who have supported me along the way and left a lasting impression; encouraged, influenced and shaped who I am, and driven me to stretch and lift toward my life goals.
Having joined the NHS some 35 years ago as an Occupational Therapist and now at the later stages of what has been for me a wonderful career, I can honestly say I had never once imagined myself as the Chief Executive I am today. How fortunate I feel, to have had the opportunities and choices along the way. The NHS for me represents an organisation that really can and should inspire and enable women to pursue varied career paths with multiple routes to achieving their ultimate goals.
Every experience is unique and I would never presume that my journey gave me any better insight than anyone else’s but when asked about the advice I might give to others, it would need to include a few of the following.
Accept that you are unique. Whilst you might admire someone else or even aspire to being more like them, remembering you will do things in your own style and that others should admire you for your individuality.
Keep an open mind and allow yourself to try new opportunities even when they put you out of your comfort zone. When I have been persuaded to face new challenges, these have been the times I have grown and learnt the most. My fear of failure or self-doubts have often set my confidence back but I have realised that reaching out for help or support will usually bring forth a safety net of wise advice and many helping hands.
Build great networks and invest in relationships. I have connections and trusted colleagues who I can speak to and who frankly help keep me grounded. Holding a mirror up to myself and accepting what I see, reminding me to keep a sense of humour and to be a little kinder to myself when times are really tough.
Spend some time investing in other people. Perhaps taking time, walking in their shoes, really listening and observing to appreciate the experiences through the eyes of others. It helps ensure we gather perspective and balance.
Diversity, equality and inclusion for all women, are central pillars of any progressive and positive culture; but I certainly haven’t always seen these values displayed. I now consider myself a strong and confident woman, but in remembering the times when I wasn’t, I try to encourage others to find and have their voice heard. Holding out a hand of encouragement and opening spaces for others to occupy, is something I feel is essential in creating a real sense of belonging.
Finally I take this opportunity to say huge thanks on International Women’s Day, to the thousands of incredible women who I have seen perform daily miracles of with compassion, commitment, personal sacrifice and a juggling act like no other. I salute those who have served on the front line of the Covid battle, who have balanced their family life, carer responsibilities, home teaching, community volunteering and much much more. You inspire me.
Lesley Massey, Chief Executive
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