In Conversation With...Lucy Gladman, who tweaked her original childhood career plans to end up at the NHS!
Here is the next instalment of our series: In Conversation With…Lucy Gladman, deputy Divisional Manager for Anaesthetics.
Lives: Sidcup, Kent (but she’s moving to Ongar imminently)
And: Lucy’s tweaked her original childhood career plan of lollipop lady by day, pub singer by night.
What’s your role at our Trust and how long have you been with us?
I joined in 2009 as a general manager in our Oncology department.
I started my current role in 2015. One of my responsibilities is ensuring my departments run smoothly. Overall I’d say my job involves a bit of everything. One minute I’ll be preparing for a meeting, the next writing a business case, dealing with staff issues, or deputising for the divisional manager. I’ve learnt so much in the time I’ve been here that I feel like I’ve been around much longer than I have.
Tell us more about your career; was NHS management always your dream job?
Definitely not! When I was little I told my mum I was going to be a lollipop lady during the day and a pub singer at night!
I left school at 16 thinking I’d be the next Kelly Hoppen (interior designer). So I went to interior design school for a year and quickly realised it wasn’t for me.
I was a travel agent from 17 until I was 25 so I enjoyed lots of cheap and free holidays. We often got to go to resorts to check them out, so I’ve been on lots of breaks. It was a lot of fun and of course alcohol always helped break the ice with other travel agents I didn’t know.
I went skiing in the old Yugoslavia before the war, America, Malta and lots of other places across Europe.
After that I fancied a change and a friend who worked in a hospital suggested I try it. I started as a ward clerk at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup. I was also a medical secretary, waiting list manager, cancer data manager and service manager.
Then I worked at the Royal Marsden Hospital and ran the Children’s Oncology unit and Bone Marrow Transplant team for a while. I found that really grounding as you think you’re having a bad day and then you see a child crying because they don’t want their treatment. It puts things into perspective.
I applied here when a role came up as general manager in Oncology. I’d worked in cancer for so long I really felt like I knew the area, but everything was much bigger here – I spent my first few weeks constantly getting lost!
We’d love to know more about your previous experience with a TV company…
When I was at the Royal Marsden we had them come in to do up the garden for the children. It was awful! When they’d finished there was no wheelchair ramp and nails were sticking out of things. As soon as the cameras were off, we had children screaming as we couldn’t let them into the garden. In the end the hospital charity got someone in to put it right.
What are some of your proudest achievements?
My Masters; I did it in business and administration. It took me six years as I was working fulltime while studying.
I’d been keen to leave school as soon as I could as I really didn’t think studying was for me, so to think years later I’d do a masters… I also surprised my family by getting a better degree than my much more academic brother. He was the perfect son growing up and I was the daughter who didn’t know what she wanted to do!
I’m also proud that we’re the first department in our Trust, and the country, to implement health roster for our consultants and doctors. We had to make it work as there wasn’t funding for any other software. It’s still a work in progress but it has made a big difference.
And when I first started this role I secured funding to set up our chronic pain care service which has really changed the lives of some of our patients. (Read our previous In Conversation With interview with Pat Becker to find out just how much!).
I never imagined I’d end up here: managing a service, staff and a budget as I was always the class clown.
What’s the best thing about working at our Trust?
I work with a really good team who get their heads down and work really hard, but we also make each other laugh when we need to cheer up.
It can be unusual for managers to stay in post so long but I feel there’s so much more we can do and so many more improvements we can make.
What do you like to do outside work?
I love going to concerts, particularly to see 80s acts – I’ve seen Bananarama, the Culture Club, Duran Duran….
I also like to eat out and socialise and I love a good musical, I’ve been to see Strictly Ballroom three times.
And I still love travelling. I’ve been to Ibiza so many times that I want to retire there. I’m planning a year of celebrations next year for my 50th, which will include a trip to Las Vegas. I also always wanted to try crowd surfing – my moto is you’ve got to try everything once!