NHSA Insider, March 8

Nicola Wilson NHSA Chief of Staff on International Women's Day and those leading the charge in the North

8th March 2018

Colleagues, my focus of late, aside from staying warm whilst the ‘Beast from the East’ does his worst, has included looking ahead to International Women’s Day today and our mini-campaign #NorthInnovationWomen to support the 2018 theme of ‘Push for Progress’. The idea behind our campaign is to promote the work of women in innovation across the North, presenting a showcase of role models already out there to women and girls thinking of working in or studying health and life sciences.

Funke Abimbola MBE tweeted back in 2016, “smart women don’t compete …. they collaborate” completely sets the tone, as does the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (ESPRC’s) ‘collaborate to innovate’.

I take great pleasure and pride to work in a role where I am surrounded by like-minded smart women. At NHSA level, four of the five management roles in Research Partnerships, Corporate Engagement and External Affairs along with my own role as Chief of Staff, are held by women. At the heart of our governance, of the 20 NHSA Council members representing their institutions and organisations, 30% are women – the national average being 19% in 2017’s Grant Thornton’s annual survey – amongst them the Chief Executive of The Innovation Agency (North West Coast’s AHSN) and NHSA Board Director, Dr Liz Mear, whose career has spanned numerous senior leadership roles in a variety of NHS organisations including the acute sector, mental health and ambulance service.

Looking outside ‘my window’ to the landscape across the North; there are hundreds of women, like Liz, blazing a trail for the future women working in health and life sciences to follow.

In a fantastic stroke of synergy, Dr Amanda Lamb, Chief Operating Officer at Connected Health Cities (CHC) an NHSA flagship project, is meeting businesses in Singapore today on International Women’s Day, as part of a trade mission. The focus of the mission is the advancement of materials and health data expertise, sharing CHC’s successes and their message that “The CHC method works with stakeholders from all sectors to bring together the right people with the right methods, to work on the right data to deliver the best care for the right patients at the right time. CHCs partnership model is open to international organisations and we welcome knowledge sharing and collaborative working.”

Up in Newcastle, Dr Nicola Wesley is Director of Innovation at the Academic Health Science Network for North East and North Cumbria and one of the driving forces behind and a Governor of the soon to be opened  North East Futures University Technical College (NE Futures UTC). The NE Futures UTC opens its doors this year and will provide specialist education to 14-19 year olds in IT subjects and Health Science subjects. Imagine the potential to be unlocked in their pupils that will benefit generations to come!

Many of the women I look up to and revere for their talent and tenacity aren’t known outside of our professional ‘world’. They are not household names and they certainly won’t knock billions of $USD off Snapchat stock if they were to disclose that they no longer use it.

Instead, they are in and around us all, with their sleeves rolled up. Amanda and Nicola are just a couple of examples of the hundreds of us out there and what defines us professionally. We unite to collaborate and innovate; working hard, using our time-served skills, knowledge and experience to leave our health and technology systems in a better shape for the generations to come. And to the health and science women of the future, my message is simple. Study hard and get plenty of sleep, because  although right now is our watch, we are waiting for you to take up the helm.

To join in the #NorthInnovationWomen campaign, go to Twitter and be sure to use the hashtag when you make your nomination of someone you think deserves recognition, even better if you can tag us – @THE_NHSA. Then, on International Women’s Day, our Head of External Affairs, Hannah Davies (@PRJournoHannahD) will be busy throughout the day, on Twitter (other social media platforms are available!) highlighting the key women; and post the entire list on our website – www.theNHSA.co.uk – thereby creating an extensive ‘Map of Women’ working in innovation across the region. What a way to inspire our women of the future, the women who will one day walk in our shoes. What are you waiting for?


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