Women Together Now – Five minutes with Reshma Malde, Superintendent Pharmacist at John Bell & Croyden

In honour of International Women’s Day 2021, we are celebrating some of the inspiring women across McKesson UK to learn more about their careers, professional challenges and highlights. 

Today we meet Reshma Malde, Superintendent Pharmacist at John Bell & Croyden, Pharmacists to Her Majesty the Queen.

Tell us more about your job?

I’ve been with John Bell & Croyden for the last ten years. My role as a Superintendent is making sure that the clinical governance and standards within our pharmacy are absolutely appropriate for the customers that come in to ensure their safety and wellbeing. My job is to support the team to deliver professional and clinical standards of care to patients as set out by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

What led you to a career in healthcare?

I was truly inspired by the health professionals who looked after me when I suffered from severe childhood asthma, and I wanted to make a difference just like they did for me. It’s a very rewarding job, and I love the impact that I can play in our patients’ lives. Community pharmacists are also unique among healthcare professionals due to the accessibility to patients, which provides the opportunity to do more than dispense medications or counsel. It enables us to address their health needs, scares and concerns, which is something that the pandemic has truly amplified.

What is the most exciting thing about your job? 

The autonomy to make decisions that I feel are right for our community and business, particular those that have an impact on our patients and their safety. And as importantly, the variety of new and enriching opportunities I am exposed to within my role on a daily basis. I feel like I get to learn something new every day, which is something that I truly embrace. The pandemic specifically has propelled the role of the pharmacist to change drastically and we have been able to branch out to learn so many new skills to support our customer base, for example testing and vaccinations. As a pharmacist I feel you always have the privilege to learn and evolve.

What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career? What would you say are the highlights? 

I would say that being an Asian woman and the traditional conservative background that it comes with has been challenging, as so often you see gender stereotypes shaping the careers of women from similar backgrounds. But conversely, one of my major highlights has been breaking through and moulding my career path by the help of so many inspirational people who I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from.

Have you encountered any barriers to your success as a female leader? 

I have been lucky from the point of graduating in that I’ve I have had the privilege of excellent mentors who have supported my personal and professional development which has opened opportunities for to get me to where I am today. Our role as pharmacists is not only to respond to the changing environment but to also drive change, and central to that is building a culture of learning to support others to develop and improve their competence as frontline practitioners, and for me that is something that luckily has always been accessible.

Studies show that women represent close to 70% of the global workforce but make up less than 20% of leadership roles. What can the healthcare industry do to change this?

One of the biggest things is looking at what each individual has to offer in terms of experience and expertise, rather than their gender. There is so much diverse talent out there, and I feel that making workplaces more receptible to women’s needs can also help push things forward – adopting a flexible approach so that women can balance work and life responsibilities will result in you getting the best performance of women. We have a clear opportunity to grasp this at the moment and I think that building a culture that celebrates flexible working will help foster many opportunities.

What would you tell other women who are just starting a career in healthcare?

Dream big. There are so many women who have shown we can make it.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?  

Be brave enough to get it wrong – success will follow.

What is something that your colleagues might not necessarily know about you (that you’d be happy to share!)? 

My idol is Kathryn Janeway the captain of the Starfleet Starship USS Voyager which is how I see my role at John Bell & Croyden, travelling in unexplored areas of the galaxy! She demonstrates great leadership and stands true to her values.