Medigold Health Celebrates International Women's Day

10/03/21 – Company News

At Medigold Health, we recognise that our business depends on diversity. Indeed, our core company values (which form the basis of our Genetic Code) are built around treating everybody with respect and ensuring that everyone, no matter their gender or how they identify, feels included and fairly treated in every aspect of their employment with us.

As such, we have always been committed to providing equal opportunities and pay to all our people, and we are proud that almost half of all senior roles across the organisation are occupied by women.

However, we know that across the world there is still an overwhelming lack of gender equality, not just in the workplace but socially, culturally and politically as well, and that sadly many women continue to be denied even the most basic human rights.

That’s why International Women’s Day, the global day for celebrating women’s achievements and advocating for gender equality, is so important. The theme for 2021, ‘Choose to Challenge’, highlights how we can all play a part in making a truly positive difference for women by calling out gender bias and inequality and seeking opportunities to shout about their success.

Keen to champion this message, this year we decided to mark the event by showcasing some of the amazing women working at Medigold Health. Read on to hear them tell their inspiring stories, talk about their female role models, debunk some common myths about women and work, and find out what IWD means to them!


Helen Vickers, Clinical Director (Hampton Knight)

Can you take us through your journey here at Medigold Health?

I came to Medigold Health 14 years ago having previously worked as a nurse in the NHS in a variety of settings. I was originally employed to work one day a week carrying out pre-placement screening. I really enjoyed learning about the OH industry and, after Medigold Health funded my OH qualification, I have since worked in all areas of the business, progressing to Nurse Manager, Director of Nursing and then Chief Nursing Officer.

I have loved supporting our nurses, technicians and Customer Services and Sales Teams. Medigold Health is also where I met my husband Mark, who was my Manager (tricky but it worked!). After Mark died two years ago, I changed roles to Clinical Director, supporting the Sales Team and implementing new clients. In January this year, I moved across to the Hampton Knight Team as Clinical Director to help support and grow that arm of the business. My colleagues are my greatest friends and have helped get me through the darkest times I have ever faced. My role has never been boring, and I enjoy supporting our clients and the teams I work with.

How have you found combining a senior role in the company with personal commitments (e.g. being a parent, having an active hobby)?

I have no issue with combining a senior role with my role as a parent. My son was five when I joined and is now away at Drama School in London. My daughter is also a nurse and now works as a Specialist Practitioner for children with special needs. I have two grandchildren, Evie, 7, and Amelia, 4, and I have always instilled into my children that if you work hard enough you can achieve anything. Having two granddaughters who see their Mum and Nanny in senior roles will provide them with an understanding of juggling a career and home life.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is Choose to Challenge – most people who know me would say this is probably my daily mantra. We should all be able to stand up for our own beliefs and challenge issues, especially where we see inequality or bias, no matter which area of our lives this affects. When my husband died and I became a ‘widow’ I was thrown into a world where people assumed I couldn’t cope, couldn’t sort out finances, couldn’t make decisions, and everyone appeared to know what was best for me. Talking to others made me realise that these sorts of attitudes are often directed at women who lose a partner. Whilst everyone deals with grief in their own way, I find it unacceptable in the 21st century that if you’re a woman, people think you cannot deal with making decisions. Eventually I may write a book to support women and include quotes of all the ridiculous things I have heard!

What myths or taboos about women need to be broken?

“All great nurses are women.” “Women don’t commit to senior roles because they have children/a husband/a pet/a hobby, or all of these.”

Do you have any female role models who have inspired you – either professionally or outside of work?

Personally, my mum – she brought up four children, had a full-time job at a time when mothers traditionally stayed at home and encouraged us always to do our best. She died aged 44 and was the reason I trained as a nurse. Professionally, a Ward Sister who cared for my mum – she told us my mum only had a few hours to live but that she would ensure she was comfortable. She was a caring, straightforward, no-nonsense Yorkshire woman who was surprised when I arrived on her ward as a student nurse a year later.

Susannah Kahtan, Occupational Health Physician

Can you take us through your journey here at Medigold Health?

I was TUPEd over from Capita, with some apprehension, after they were acquired by Medigold Health in 2014.  I had been part of the Senior Management Team at Capita, so the move to Medigold Health meant taking a step down to being a clinic doctor.

The apprehension soon faded though, as I found the company’s emphasis on quality has made it one of the last bastions of ‘real’ occupational health medicine, with consultations long enough to allow a proper history-examination-formulation-discussion model.

How have you found combining a senior role in the company with personal commitments (e.g. being a parent, having an active hobby)?

Medigold has always been a family-centred employer.  This is something I appreciate deeply as a mother of four children, including one with substantial special needs.  I have never felt under pressure to put the children second to my job.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Truthfully, I had no idea it was happening, but I am happy that we are celebrating it. I have never felt discriminated against as a woman while working for Medigold Health.

What myths or taboos about women need to be broken?

I think that we should celebrate gender diversity and the strengths and weaknesses that come with gender diversity and help all genders to perform happily and optimally.  It is entirely true that women have gender-specific conditions – e.g. period pain and menopausal symptoms – and they should never feel under pressure to emulate any other gender.

Do you have any female role models who have inspired you – either professionally or outside of work?

My grandmother has always been my role model.  She was a fount of unconditional love and throughout her 98 years she maintained a lively interest in, and appreciation of, all types of people.  She was a seamstress who kept a lodging house and sold tinned goods from her front room and she taught me that whatever job you do, much of it will be rather dull, and it is the people you encounter who will keep you endlessly surprised and fulfilled.

Gemma Ely, Chief People Officer

Can you take us through your journey here at Medigold Health?

I started working at Medigold Health in June 2005 as PA to Geny Foster, the Managing Director at the time.  As MD, Geny retained her previous HR Director responsibilities and so I was exposed to many different areas of management in Medigold Health, including HR.

Prior to joining Medigold Health I worked in a busy HR team at Deutsche Bank, London, so I had some prior experience.  Over the years, I have developed my knowledge and expanded my role as the business has grown.  Medigold Health has invested in my education and has enabled me to gain CIPD qualifications, cementing my passion for people and making the world a better place to work.

How have you found combining a senior role in the company with personal commitments (e.g. being a parent, having an active hobby)?

I won’t lie, my life can be crazy busy sometimes, but that’s when I’m at my happiest.  The fact that my job allows for a work-life balance helps me to do things like the school run, as I can complete my work outside of normal office hours.  With regards to hobbies, as some of you may already know, I love figure skating, both competing and coaching. I spend most of my spare time at the ice rink training and trying to stop people (often kids!) falling on the ice!  I think it is really important to do the things that you love as this will then improve your home/work life.  I am a true believer in the saying ‘work to live, not live to work’.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

IWD gives us the chance to recognise women and highlight what they are achieving. It challenges everyone to look at gender bias and equality. I believe that women should have the same advantages as men, especially in the workplace. Sadly, despite campaigns such as this, it appears that they continue to be disadvantaged. However, the world is opening its eyes and making positive changes, so I am hopeful for the future. At Medigold Health we stand out among a lot of workplaces in the UK, in that just over 58% of all our employees are female and, and 43% of our Senior Leadership Team is female (so just the 7% to go!).

What myths or taboos about women need to be broken?

‘Women are the weaker sex’ – I think this is utter rubbish. Above anything else I can definitely squat more weight than my husband, Medigold Health’s CEO Alex Goldsmith!

Do you have any female role models who have inspired you – either professionally or outside of work?

My Mum – she taught me so much, including my work ethic. She has been really successful working in a number of jobs across multiple industries since I was younger and is still going. She showed me how to commit to a role with pride and how to be good at it. Also, shout out to Geny Foster – she was my first Medigold Health boss and my mentor for 12 years.  She taught me so much and encouraged me to develop my role, which is how I have got to where I am today.

Joanne Hughes, Operations Director (Hampton Knight)

Can you take us through your journey here at Medigold Health?

I joined the Medigold Health family in 2017 following their acquisition of our business, Hampton Knight.

The first 12 months with Medigold Health felt like a bit of whirlwind when I look back now but overall, the integration went really well. There were of course lots of changes to adapt to, but I embraced them and saw the experience as the start of a new chapter in my development. I felt welcomed and supported and the family values shared by both businesses were very similar, which helped.

During 2019 we were making good progress with the development of our Alcohol and Drug Testing service, but then the pandemic hit. Like any business, this was something none of us could have planned for, but at the start of the first lockdown we saw an opportunity to use our experience and our relationships with the laboratories we use for our alcohol and drug testing to start providing COVID testing for businesses.

During the last 10 months I have played a key role in launching a completely new service that has outperformed expectations. Even though at times it has been challenging, I have genuinely enjoyed being part of the team delivering this new service and watching it flourish. The pace has been phenomenal and we are still learning every day how to make the service better and better for our clients, but I thrive under pressure and love the challenge!

How have you found combining a senior role in the company with personal commitments (e.g. being a parent, having an active hobby)?

Being Mum to three children and having a senior role means life is pretty busy, but to be honest I have always just done my best to balance the two. I think most working parents experience the same struggles juggling work and home life.

Of course I experience ‘mum guilt’, and especially when the children were younger, I did envy friends who were enjoying time going to toddler groups or meeting up for walks in the park whilst I was committed to growing our business, but I don’t regret it. My husband and I have always worked together as a team when it comes to the children and running the house, which helps massively – there wasn’t ever an expectation that I take on the typical mum role.

Over the last year, juggling a new way of working remotely and the intensity of launching the new COVID Testing service with home schooling has definitely increased stress levels, but I try to remain calm and just get on with it!

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I see it as a celebration of women’s achievements and although there is more focus on gender equality now, we are a long way off where it needs to be. However, it is good that it is spoken about more openly. To be honest, I have been fortunate in my career not to have experienced direct prejudice for being a woman in a senior role.  I do feel that most organisations are dominated by men in senior positions, and I think it takes a special company to recognise the skills and creativity women can contribute to the success of their business.

I feel passionate about encouraging future generations to not let gender stop them doing what they want to do. Having a daughter myself, I am especially aware of passing on this message to her  – I don’t want her to grow up with a bias of what her future should look like because of being a woman – but I apply this same approach with my sons, too.

What myths or taboos about women need to be broken?

There are a lot of myths around how women should live their lives, particularly with regards to their careers and having a family. I have friends who have chosen not to have children and others who have given up a career to raise their family, and their decisions are constantly questioned by society, which is wrong. I think there is still an expectation that women should act in a certain way – there is so much pressure on us surrounding the life decisions we make, how we look, our relationships etc.

Given my own experiences, I would say the main myth that should be broken is that women with children should not seek promotion or a career in a senior role. It is just as acceptable for a woman to be ambitious as it is for a man, if that’s what she chooses! A woman can balance work and family life if she wishes to do so.

Do you have any female role models who have inspired you – either professionally or outside of work?

I have strong female role models within my family who had a real influence on me and helped to shape me in my younger years. When I left school, I actually wanted to join the army and I remember being encouraged to do so by my whole family, even my Mum! I have been lucky to have worked with a number of influential women over the years who have inspired me and, without realising, became my mentors. I have also been influenced by colleagues in our business, some of whom I supported early on in their own careers but who have since ended up inspiring me!

Chantal McDonald, Absentia Director

Can you take us through your journey here at Medigold Health?

I joined Medigold Health back in October 2013 to support with the business’s day one absence management service, now known as Absentia.

Having previously worked for an absence management provider, I was excited to return to the Occupational Health sector and have the opportunity to be involved in creating an end-to-end solution to support Medigold Health’s clients to better manage workplace absence. It was initially just me, on my own, with only three clients using the service at that time.  As a service, Absentia has grown (and continues to grow!) considerably and I now work closely with my team of five delivering, managing and selling the product.  We still have many of our original clients from 2013, partnering with us to manage absence 😊.

I love being part of the Medigold Health family and am proud to be part of a team that really wants to help and support people.

How have you found combining a senior role in the company with personal commitments (e.g. being a parent, having an active hobby)?

It is sometimes difficult to switch off and walk away from the laptop, particularly in the current circumstances, but life has to be about balance. I like to work hard and play hard! I love spending time socialising with people, and I make sure that I take time to see friends and family (pre-COVID, obviously!).  I usually try to make sure that I have things booked in the calendar so that I take the time to do them.  To perform at your best at work you need to have balance in your life to reduce stress and burnout.  Sometimes I recognise I haven’t got the balance quite right, and I have to reassess my time and priorities to fix this!

I’m also a massive fan of exercise, so make sure that this is part of my routine. I am currently doing an early HIIT session every morning, which really helps me to start the morning feeling positive and ready for the day ahead.  I am also currently doing a ‘75 Day challenge’ with April Cremins, our Absence Management Sales Consultant, which means I have to find a second 45-minute window in the day to do an exercise outside, so I am enjoying a run/walk/cycle every day, which helps to ensure I take a break from the laptop and get some fresh air!!

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

One of my favourite things – a celebration! The day is about taking time to recognise and celebrate women’s success and achievements and making a wonderful woman’s day (whether it’s a family member, friend or colleague) by telling her how very special she is 😊.

What myths or taboos about women need to be broken?

I have read on many occasions that women in senior roles aren’t supportive of other women. However, I can honestly say that I have worked, and do work, with many strong women in senior positions who have always fully supported and encouraged me to be the best I can be and I too will always work hard to drive and encourage other women and female colleagues.

Do you have any female role models who have inspired you – either professionally or outside of work?

There are lots of strong females who I personally admire for what they have achieved but the one woman I have to acknowledge the most is my lovely mum, Sara! I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her – she has always supported me with every decision I have made and inspired me to be the best I can be.  She is passionate and determined with a huge heart and a warmth that attracts people to her.  With that and her constant chatting to strangers, she makes friends wherever she goes (which is always amusing when she returns back to London, as we all know the etiquette on the tube!).  One of the things I most admire about her is her positivity, as this can get you through some really tough times. Being positive is something I always endeavour to be.

 

Caroline Connolly, Associate Director of Customer Services

 

Can you take us through your journey here at Medigold Health?

I joined Medigold Health in November 2011 as a Customer Service Advisor at the Northampton Head Office before being promoted to Account Manager in 2013.  During the company’s acquisition of Capita Health and Wellbeing I was given the opportunity to relocate to Sheffield.  The journey ‘up north’ allowed me to quickly integrate the Capita administration staff into the Medigold Health family, who also benefited from gaining a conscientious, well trained and fun-loving admin team.

Working under the guidance of Scot Smith (now CEO of our Alcohol, Drug and Covid-Testing division, Hampton Knight), I was successfully promoted to Associate Director for Customer Services. Following a number of further acquisitions by Medigold Health in 2017, I have also managed our Customer Service teams in Plymouth, Glasgow and Sheffield. In the times before remote working and ‘Teams’ calls, this was no mean feat and I spent most of my time travelling the length of the country! With the support of Alex Marshall, our Client Services Director, the management structure of the CS department has since undergone significant reorganisation, with Jane Fletcher and Sarah Colwill, both experienced Customer Service Managers, now joining the team, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise.

Having my skills recognised by Medigold Health, being able to grow alongside the organisation as it has developed and knowing that I have played a key role in supporting the business’s transition from a family firm to an award-winning, trailblazing force to be reckoned with within the OH industry makes me so proud – it’s what gets me out of bed and raring to go each day.  I have also gained satisfaction from mentoring the Customer Service admin staff, many of whom have also risen through the ranks. For those who have chosen to move on, I truly believe their experience at Medigold Health will have enriched their lives.

How have you found combining a senior role in the company with personal commitments (e.g. being a parent, having an active hobby)?

A work-life balance is important to everyone and whilst we are all sometimes under pressure to deliver, that’s when I thrive – I enjoy rising to a challenge!  Throughout my long and varied career, I have always combined bringing up a family and being active. Swimming is my go for winding down and taking some all-important ‘me time’.  Some people have commented that my strict observation of ‘me time’ each week is somewhat selfish, but I think it’s what’s helped me to keep my drive and enthusiasm throughout my 40+ year career.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Sadly, there are many women who still do not enjoy even basic social, political, cultural and economic rights. In a world where there should be equality between the sexes, there is still some way to go. That’s why International Woman’s Day is still as important now as when it was first established over a century ago. By taking a moment to acknowledge women and celebrate their achievements, we can raise awareness about what still needs to be done, and in the future, we can look back and know that we played a part in helping to create a gender equal world.

What myths or taboos about women need to be broken?

The phrase ‘women’s work’ has always irked me. What does it mean? And why does society perceive so-called ‘women’s work’ as less valuable? It may surprise many of you to know that when I left school in the 1970’s, there was a clear and accepted career path for any girls and boys who were not destined for university. The options were especially limited for girls:  factory work, shop work, clerical work, nursing or teaching. I remember getting into trouble for not conforming during domestic science classes – I didn’t want to know how to keep house for my future husband. Thankfully for most, these damaging stereotypes of gendered job roles have long been eradicated.

Do you have any female role models who have inspired you – either professionally or outside of work?

I could answer this question by referencing all the famous women who fought bravely to stand up for their rights over the years, but I take inspiration from everyday women who make a difference each day. I was very lucky to grow up surrounded by strong female role models, my Mum being a prime example – she was a working-class woman born into the deprivation of the 1920s who worked full time, became a union rep and a local councillor, and then served as the mayor of my local town.  I spent my childhood in the local labour party offices listening to speeches, marching in solidarity to protest against injustices and campaigning successfully to stop the closure of a purpose-built maternity unit. Today, I am extremely privileged to have a strong network of like-minded female family members and friends, who love nothing more than putting the world to rights over the odd glass of wine!

Nicole Corr, Marketing Director

Can you take us through your journey here at Medigold Health?

I joined Medigold Health as Commercial Manager in June 2015. Tom Butcher, Medigold Health’s Sales Director, led the interview and he was joined by the CEO, Alex Goldsmith halfway through. When I was told I was going to be ‘grilled’ by the CEO my butterflies went up a notch! To my joy and amazement, I was offered the job at the end of the interview! They had already interviewed a number of people for the role but felt I had the edge.  Despite having a number of interviews lined up that week, I immediately accepted the role as I am a strong believer in gut instinct and my gut was screaming Medigold Health at me. Taking the job on the spot like that has, for a number of reasons, turned out to be one of the best life decisions I have ever made.

In July 2017 I was promoted to Associate Commercial Director, and then in November 2020, I was promoted again to Marketing Director (my dream job!). To date, my Medigold Health journey has been amazing, and I have met some wonderful people whom I would now class as close friends as well as colleagues.

How have you found combining a senior role in the company with personal commitments (e.g. being a parent, having an active hobby)?

Although I don’t have any children, I do have an elderly mum with a serious heart condition who I support and look after. This involves taking her to quite a lot of doctor and hospital appointments plus doing her shopping and household chores (Mum’s favourite phrases are “if you happen to be passing a shop…” and “whilst you are on your feet, love…”) 😊.

I am also doing a counselling course on Tuesday evenings (counselling is something that has always interested me and, in the future, once I’ve gained my qualification, I would like to help and support people with addictions in my ‘spare’ time). Before starting this course, it had been a couple of decades since I had to do homework, so I have to be disciplined with my time management at the weekends to ensure I am up to date with all my coursework.

Although my responsibilities with my Mum and my study commitments can sometimes take a little bit of juggling, I find combining them with the responsibilities of my role more than manageable.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

For me, International Women’s Day is a day to pause and reflect on the struggles and celebrate the great achievements of women across the globe. It is also a healthy reminder that no matter what point you are at in your career and/or life, you have the ability to inspire, support and uplift other women – so do it!

What myths or taboos about women need to be broken?

That we are not decision-makers! I was recently negotiating with a number of suppliers for a project and one of the companies asked me, “Once you have glanced over the proposal, can you give me the email address of the decision-maker and I will get in touch with him directly!” I politely told him that I was the decision-maker for this particular purchasing decision…

Do you have any female role models who have inspired you – either professionally or outside of work?

It has to be my wonderful mum. She is a single-parent and having lost her mum when she was only one year old and her dad when she was fourteen years old, she had no parental support or help. As an overly inquisitive and hyperactive child, I was quite a handful! Mum always worked hard and provided for me, which often meant her going without. Despite her circumstances, she has always had a lovely outlook on life and taught me from a young age to be kind, respect others and work hard. These values have served me well throughout my life and I started work aged fourteen as a glass collector in a pub (back in the day when that was allowed at that age!) with four paper-rounds on the side, and have provided for myself ever since.

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