As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day 2020, we asked women who worked across the Trust to share their stories.
Hello my name is Victoria Pickles and I am Director of Corporate Affairs at the Trust. I joined Airedale in February 2019 and have worked in the NHS for 17 years. Not many people know what a Director of Corporate Affairs does, and you certainly don’t – as far as I know – grow up wanting to be one.
So how did I get here? Well I think it’s probably best described as a series of fortunate twists and turns. Leaving school with some decent but unfocused A-levels I did what everyone who doesn’t quite know what they want to be does at university – a geography degree. While I was studying I worked as a domestic in my local hospital and in those days it included making cups of tea and toast for the patients. I loved it and it gave me a real feel for the importance of talking to patients, asking how they are and recognising that small gestures can make all the difference. I come from a line of NHS staff – my grandma as a nurse, my mum a sonographer, so I feel like it’s in my blood.
After uni I worked at Eureka! The Museum for Children as an enabler – working with the children in the museum spaces – and was asked to fill in for the Communications Assistant. I have always had an overactive imagination and a way with words and the need to work to short deadlines appealed to my pressure-prompted way of working. So I felt I had found my niche.
After six years in financial services at the Skipton communicating mortgages and APRs I felt the need to get back to public service and got my first job as a comms manager in the NHS. I’ve been lucky to work for some inspirational and challenging bosses who have given me opportunities to test my skills in roles out of my comfort zone. I learned how to be a company secretary on the job and picked up other responsibilities including complaints, PALS, public engagement, office redesign and so on. I’ve worked in primary care, community care and commissioning as well as the hospital.
Working in the NHS is rewarding, frustrating, joyful, stressful, challenging and fabulous. To help me stay sane I walk hills and mountains– my greatest achievement being climbing Mount Toubkal in North Africa. And I am a trustee of my local hospice – again full of joy and tears in equal measure.
I would encourage any woman to work in the NHS. There are so many opportunities to stretch and challenge yourself. Your career can take surprising twists and turns. And what better job can there be than contributing to the health and lives of our community? I can’t think of one.