Gemma Jones - KHPeople

Gemma Jones KHPeopleWhat is your role within King’s Health Partners?

Head of Programmes for King’s Health Partners Women and Children’s Clinical Academic Partnership.

What inspired you to get into this work?

I was inspired by the Research Nurse team while I worked in ICU at St Thomas' Hospital as a Technician. I loved the practical aspect of their jobs while contributing to really valuable research for the sickest patients. I decided to return to university to study an MSc in pharmacology (at King's College London!) and went on to get Clinical Research Associate roles in Clinical Trials.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy bringing people together to solve complex problems. Often this isn’t just the research question but overcoming hurdles in logistics, finance, management and governance. It’s really important to me to ensure research is of the highest quality and properly conducted. I love working with world leaders in their field, really clever people tackling really hard questions. Ultimately, I hope that my role makes a difference and contributes to making the world a better place.

What are the benefits of working in partnership?

Partnership enables us to make the most of everyone’s skills to answer a question more effectively and with the best outcomes, I see this as the major benefit to our communities and the wider world. However, it isn’t always easy to realise these benefits efficiently and it needs everyone involved to understand the remit and roles, as staff members this can seem very challenging, but we need to focus on the overall goals.

What are the challenges of being a woman in leadership?

There are still biases out there, conscious and unconscious, some people will still assume you are the administrator not the Director when you turn up. As well, in large rooms occupied mostly by men it might be harder to make your voice heard. Thankfully, not all board rooms and committees are like this but there are plenty of examples of sexism in the workplace.

In addition, Parental leave and child rearing still usually disadvantage Women. I’ve got three children; trying to strike a real work-life balance is so hard. I am really grateful that I can work at home and see my one year old more than I ever could when my oldest was the same age.  This won’t be equal until all parents (men and women) are able to have a good balance.

What would be your one career top tip for women seeking a leadership role/pathway?

Learn what kind of a leader you would like to be by looking at other people’s styles (good and bad!), speak to leaders and people you meet about how they got to the role they are in. Very few career paths are linear, I’ve made both unexpected jumps and sideways moves to get different experience as have most of the successful people I know. Also, ask for flexible working arrangements if you need them and encourage your teams to do the same!

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