Knowing what you know now, would you still have spun out?
Without any question - yes. Hard work, different challenges, long hours but there is something special about being a discipline specific service contracting with the NHS rather than being part of the massive whole. If you tie that to staff ownership then you can start to create powerful momentum.
What was the best advice you were given and who gave it?
I don’t know who said this and it wasn’t to me specifically but it struck a chord and I wrote it down – ‘The question to ask about an early stage start up is not ‘is this company going to take over the world?’ but ‘how big could this company get if the founders did the right things’? And the right things often seem both laborious and inconsequential at the time.
What is the best advice you have given?
Leading a service in the NHS – you are probably the only advocate for that service, staff or patient. The system - be it acute trust, PCT etc. will want to shape that service in such a way as fits the greater financial goals and favours other services. If you are not strong and make others aware of the clinical implications of say a cut to budget, no one else can or will do that. Once it is gone you will have a devil of a job to get it back. Be very strong.
What have you messed up along the way?
I think it was an assumption that becoming a social enterprise, despite all the informing/challenging/debating that we did as a department, meant that you became one straight away. The legal documents said CIC but experience has shown us that it takes a long time to shake off the ingrained NHS culture whilst retaining what we have always had close to heart – caring. We have all had to learn a great deal and three years on I can see real change.
How well do you balance running your business and home life?
I keep working on it but if I am honest perhaps not so well. I thought I was busy before we span out but my current role really is full on and it would be 24/7 if you let it. Work in progress!
What would you 10 years ago think of yourself now?
It is not me. I couldn’t do that – I do not have the skills.
Where do you see your organisation in 5 years’ time?
Leading the way however hearing care changes in the next five years. We are going to have to be adaptable and comfortable with more change. If it goes in the way that we plan, running and influencing significantly more audiology services based around NHS provision
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Running Chime but with an adapted role to fit the needs of the growing organisation. Probably not still with elements of clinical practise – but maybe!
If you weren’t doing this job, what else would you be doing?
An audiologist of some sort I expect. I had ambitions to lead an NHS audiology service and have done that. I had no inkling as to the direction that we have currently taken.
Back to stepping out now