There are hundreds of fabulous women leaders in the NHS

by Suzanne Robinson

08 March 2019

Last year for the first time in the history of the National Healthcare Finance Awards, all shortlisted candidates for the Director of Finance of the Year Award were women. To mark International Women's Day 2019, we spoke with one of the shortlisted leaders - Suzanne Robinson about the importance of diversity in healthcare finance and her childhood dream.

Would you say there are particular challenges for women in NHS finance? How does this change when you progress to director level?
I don’t really identify with a challenge for women in finance per say; I would never want to be appointed just because I was woman and 100% would expect this to be about my skills, experience, commitment and the leadership I bring. However, that’s not to say challenges don’t exist and for anyone wanting to progress to more senior roles my advice would be the same – be confident, assured, not afraid to do things differently, take risks and stay grounded.

What can the senior leadership do to encourage diversity in the function?
One of the most important areas for me is around recruitment. Making sure we’re not limiting the diversity of our teams and our profession by looking in the same places for new appointees whether that’s from schools, universities or job advertisements. NHS finance is a great place to work, our NHS Gradate Training Scheme is one of the best in the country. We need to celebrate this more and make the NHS Finance function the one that everyone wants to work in. The fact that we recognise the need to be more diverse and inclusive within our teams, I would hope, would be a positive message for those considering to join us as an employer.  

Do you wish you'd done something different in your career?
I always wanted to be an artist or a florist! I loved arts and crafts at School and when I was younger you were encouraged to do the things that you’re good at not necessarily what you enjoyed. But with my job in NHS finance I’ve found a way to incorporate both which is why I love it so much. Raising the awareness of finance and de-mystifying the numbers is a challenge – but being creative about the way we do this is not only engaging its actually quite fun! (Not quite included the flowers yet but working on it.)

What would you say to women beginning their NHS finance journey now?
I’d say welcome aboard! There are hundreds of fabulous women leaders in NHS finance to inspire you throughout your journey and the world is your oyster.

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