To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, we’ve spoken to some of the fabulous women that work at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust that are inspiring future generations.
Vicky Pickles is Deputy CEO and Director of Corporate Affairs at Airedale. Keep reading to find out about Vicky’s role, how she began life in the NHS, and some great advice.
What is your role and how did you get into the field?
Deputy CEO currently but my day job is Director of Corporate Affairs and Group Company Secretary. It’s a long story as to how I got into this field. I started life in the NHS as a cleaner (which in fairness I loved, apart from the uniform which was horrendous at the time – the ones AGHS cleaning staff get to wear are high fashion by comparison).
But I then worked at a children’s museum, then in financial services (but doing corporate hospitality, sponsorship and events not finance) and then joined the NHS as a communications manager. From there to here has been a case of being brave about taking on new challenges, never being afraid to ask for help or admit when I don’t know, and resilience.
How would you describe your role?
Doing stuff the CEO doesn’t fancy doing (I am joking!) I get involved in problem solving, leading the work to manage our concrete problem for the Trust, managing the Board and supporting the comms and charity work in the trust. Oh and then there is the vaccination programme………
Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?
Not really. When I worked in financial services it was still very much a male dominated environment – all of the executives were male. I suppose the only barrier I experienced was when I was running golf days and at some of the venues as a woman I wasn’t allowed in key areas of the club house – tricky when you are in charge of the event!
Who are the women that have inspired you?
I am inspired by real women rather than celebrities or famous folk so I would have to say my mum, my cousin and my ‘aunty’ (she’s not my real aunty but I have known her all my life). My mum because she was a divorced parent, putting me through university at a time when interest rates were through the roof, working in the NHS in a full time job. She has also had to make some difficult decisions in life. My aunty took me in at a really challenging time of my life and alongside her own 3 teenage children, treated me with love and compassion. She challenges me to be the best I can be; she can be very direct and to the point and takes no prisoners but is the kindest person I know. And my cousin was resilient and strong through one of the worst experiences you can imagine – the loss of a child – and somehow still manages to think of others beyond herself.
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
I think it is important to support and encourage others no matter what sex. Absolutely support other women, and help them to be the best that they can be.
What is the most powerful advice that you’ve been given?
When I was young my dad used to say ‘Life is short, eat dessert first if you want to’. Probably explains the shape I am! My dad was my greatest cheerleader. He always encouraged me to ‘go for it’ and the eating dessert first was his way of saying don’t feel you have to follow what everyone else does, do the things that you enjoy and love life – it’s a privilege.
What is the most important message that you would send to young women thinking about their careers?
Don’t worry about ‘a career’. If you want to be a lawyer or doctor or something that has a set career path then fine. But if not just do what you enjoy, do it to the best of your ability, take some risks, and never be afraid to ask for help.
Image 1: Vicky (L) and her cousin (R)
Image 2: Vicky and her Dad