How did you get into OH?I never had a burning ambition to get into OH, even though I had been one of my local NHS hospital’s first cases (in around 1980) and they had made a bit of a pig’s ear of managing it. That is another story which I will mention later on because of the knowledge that I gained from the experience. With hindsight, however, moving into OH was a smart move. I started my career in 1989, working part time for Procter & Gamble (P&G) in Egham as its first OH professional. The hours and location were perfect, as I was then a mum to a toddler. I had previously worked as a practice nurse in a large GP surgery, which required me to have broad clinical skills and a good working knowledge of healthy lifestyle choices. This was a good match for the role at P&G, as it wanted to introduce a global health lifestyle programme.
Who influenced you in your early days?It was not so much who influenced my career but the NHS experience that I mentioned above, when I returned to work after a year’s absence with a significant temporary disability. It was not a good experience as, back then, there was a lot of bias regarding disability, which in today’s world would not be tolerated and would breach the Equality Act 2010. To give some context, I had a sub-clavian thrombosis that required a rib re-section to release it, but I ended up with some nerve complications that resulted in me having a paralysed arm for nearly 18 months. I now have a lot of empathy for individuals who have strokes; it is very humbling to lose your independence.
- Feb 2015 to date: UK occupational health and wellbeing manager, Skanska UK
- Oct 2012-Jan 2015: Head of occupational health, wellbeing and safety direct, Sainsbury’s plc
- Feb 2002-June 2012: Group head of occupational health, Centrica plc
- Oct 1989-Feb 2002: EMEA health systems manager, Procter & Gamble
- 1987-Oct 1989: Practice nurse, large GP surgery
- 1980-1987: Various NHS roles in East Berkshire hospit