My Experience: Mary Seacole Leadership Programme

19 Sep 2018

Nick Kaye recalls his recent experience of undertaking the Mary Seacole programme.

When I first considered the Mary Seacole development programme, I was particularly interested in learning more about leadership. I am privileged to hold various leadership roles and was curious to know how the programme would improve my skills and add value to these roles. However, I also felt nervous about being away from the pharmacy in order to carry out the programme- and would investing my time be worth it? I decided to take the plunge.

The first session was in Taunton, in a lovely but imposing town hall. I was intrigued about who I was about to meet and what I would learn about myself during the duration of the course. The first thing that struck me was the diversity of 30 or so of us in the group. We had Chief Officers of LPCs, an ex-Regional Director of Boots, an NPA Board Member, Pharmacists that have dual roles across GP practices, a newly qualified Pharmacist that had been the Chemist & Druggist highly commended Pre-reg. of the year only 12 months ago, and various Pharmacy Technicians. One of whom was new in post in a Manager role, and one that had been a Manager of the same pharmacy for many years.

The trainers put our apprehension at ease instantly, and throughout the course they were both fantastic. One of my instant observations was the removal of hierarchy within the group; everyone was equal and all opinions were treated with respect.

The face-to-face training sessions were engaging and thought provoking, and between sessions we had the benefit of learning online. As a dad of four with a newborn, being able to continue my education at 2am was a great thing for me! Despite the commitment of taking a course, there are ways to fit the program around busy pharmacy and family lives.

I know the challenge with all learning is considering what happens when we go back to the ‘real world’. I think everyone will take different things from this programme; in my case it was being able to take a fresh look at the processes we have in the pharmacy and ask why do we do what we do. If the answer is ‘because we always have’, maybe that isn’t the correct approach. Following the techniques I learnt at Mary Seacole, we have changed some of our service recruitment and delivery into a better ‘pharmacy team’ approach. This is making a real difference to our bottom line in hard financial times, and creating a more engaged and empowered team environment.

Through being on the programme I have learnt more about myself and my personal strengths and weaknesses. I believe that developing an understanding of myself has made me a better leader in pharmacy, locally and nationally. If you are interested in the Mary Seacole programme but unsure about making the commitment, I would thoroughly recommend to all NPA members to give it a go. One last thing from me, look up Mary Seacole- what an amazing lady!