In these days of ‘equality’ it would be good to see more women – and black women – being given the opportunity to show their capabilities and skills in the more senior director roles.
I was born and bred in the UK, and my roots are in Dudley. There were not many black candidates at the time of my university training back in the 90s and I worked hard to push through any barriers or any discrimination. When I became a Ward Sister, you didn’t see a lot of other black Ward Sisters at the time.
My mum was a nurse back in the Caribbean, she was the Florence Nightingale type back in the day. She came to this country very young, and then she worked and trained here as a nurse, working her way up to being a Ward Sister. I was inspired by my mum and what she had achieved. She always said to me, “If your friends at school achieve 99.99%, you must aim for 110%,” and that’s what I’ve done throughout my career and this is why I get the results that I do.
My husband was and still is very supportive of me. At the start of my career we had three young children; he used to help take care of them and do the school runs. I would say for the better part of the three years, while I was studying, he raised the kids as well as supported me by reading my essays and my dissertations. He did what needed to be done and he did a good job.
It was supposed to be called the ‘Nice 90s’, but it wasn’t always so very nice back then. There was discrimination, but despite all knockbacks I persevered. I applied for a Ward Sister’s post several times until I finally got the job and I worked at the hospital for seventeen years with the NHS.
I came to Bupa in 2011 as a Regional Support Manager covering the Midlands and Wales. The role was demanding and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Ryland View was one of the homes in my portfolio. The home was closing, and I was asked to come in for six weeks to see it through its transition. I interviewed countless managers and there was nobody that I felt would bring the home to where it needed to be, so I decided I would stay here until we could get it up and running again. I had to make a career decision and it was only for the love of my job that I decided to take a step back.
I managed to turn the home around. Now we’ve got five units, we’ve increased the occupancy from fifty-two residents to a hundred-and-forty-four residents, and we have a waiting list. The home is now seen as being ‘outstanding’. I continue to be dedicated to my profession and always working towards making a difference. I have been recognised globally by Bupa for a couple of awards including ‘The Global Clinical Excellence Award’ which I think speaks volumes about what has been achieved in the business.
Originally the planned pathway was for me to return to my regional role and whilst I made the decision to step back at the time, I now feel that I am ready to progress to a Regional Director or Director position. I feel the time is right to spread my wings and move my career forward. I would like to think I could work for Bupa until retirement, but the doorway of opportunities seems limited.
In these days of ‘equality’ it would be good to see more women and moreover black women being given the opportunity to show their capabilities and skills in the more senior director roles. I don’t think employers are unaware of the difficulties some women experience but sometimes, maybe, there can be a misconception about personalities in various ethnicities – for instance, some people might see assertive as being aggressive.
I believe that in order to be a good employer you have to listen to what your employees are saying. Having your people behind you and by supporting one another, great things can be achieved. We’re all busy but we have to take time out of our schedules just to listen and really hear what people are saying. I think Bupa does that well; they have a site where employees can link up and share comments. I think it’s good to listen to other voices. They’re doing tremendous things to keep people engaged. You need to be aware of what people are saying, because it could have a significant impact on the business you are in.
I’m a Pentecostal, a born-again Christian. My Christianity is important to me, it makes me happy and influences me to strive to be a better person – to be approachable, not to judge people and situations, and treat people with the respect with which I would want to be treated. The Lord gives me strength to go on and gives me the strength to get up. The Lord doesn’t see colour or ethnicity. He gives me the courage and strength to start running again, against any knockbacks that I may have. The Lord gives me my passion and my smile and my love.
Caring for another person’s family member is a huge responsibility. It is an important and difficult job and it is not for everyone. Carers give excellent care; they maintain people’s dignity and their hygiene, they deal with debilitating conditions, and with dying. They do it for love, for the love of the person they are caring for, and it is disheartening that in most caring professions the carers are not recognised for their devotion and skills, and are often only rewarded by being paid minimum wage.
It would be nice to think that people see through my skin and see the person inside and feel my passion for making a difference for the better. I am very ambitious and it would be good to think that I could be seen to inspire other women of any creed or colour, to want to achieve their goals and dreams.
Overall I’m really happy doing my everyday job, though I can’t say I’m completely satisfied in the role yet. It’s like eating your meal; you enjoy that meal, but you could eat a little bit more.
That’s a good summing-up. You enjoy what you’re eating… but you really want to say, “Please sir, can I have some more?”