A vet crouching by a cow

RCVS showcases 12 inspiring veterinary leaders at Royal College Day

At Royal College Day 2019 – the RCVS’ Annual General Meeting and Awards Ceremony – a showcase of 12 inspiring veterinary leaders from a variety of backgrounds, roles, disciplines, and career stages was launched.

A video featuring interviews with the 12 veterinary leaders was unveiled by Amanda Boag in her final speech as RCVS President, reflecting the strong emphasis that she has put on the need for all members of the veterinary team to develop everyday leadership skills, as part of the RCVS Leadership initiative, during her presidential year.

The Leadership initiative itself was formally launched in April 2018 which was followed by the creation of a popular online leadership course, developed in conjunction with FutureLearn and the NHS Leadership Academy.

Speaking of the latest development in the Leadership initiative, Amanda said: “Vet professionals are almost invariably all leaders, but we are not always good at recognising and promoting this. The RCVS wants to celebrate leaders from across the vet and vet nursing professions, including both those leading every day in their workplaces, as well as those in traditional leadership roles. We want to highlight our qualities as both people and professionals, and emphasise the need to recognise these qualities and, through that, give us all the confidence to take up leadership roles.

“A few years ago, the RCVS began work with the British Veterinary Association on the Vet Futures project to identify where we are now, and where we want to be in 2030. Leadership development was identified as an area that we have not necessarily been brilliant at as a profession. More worryingly, there was evidence that some vets, particularly younger ones, do not see themselves as leaders, or feel comfortable with that term.

“In our selection of these 12 veterinary leaders we have shown that leadership is not something that belongs only to those who are senior, or those who wear a fancy chain of office around their neck. We believe leadership is something that is ongoing, and something that can be demonstrated at any stage of a career.

“We want young vets to know what good leadership looks like, and have the confidence to call things out when they are not right. Vets and vet nurses care a great deal about what they do, and this is the time for us to stand up, value ourselves, and tell ourselves and others that we can all lead in important ways.

“I am very proud that one of my last acts as President is to launch this showcase and I hope that other members of the profession find the diverse stories and experiences contained therein as exciting as I do.”

The 12 people who have been showcased as part of the initiative are:

  • Sarah Colegrave, a clinical director of a small animal practice in King’s Lynn who uses leadership to develop her team’s talents;
  • Professor Liz Mossop, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Development and Engagement at the University of Lincoln who talks about the importance of mentoring;
  • RCVS President Niall Connell, who talks about how a life-changing illness has lead him towards leadership roles;
  • Gemma Irwin-Porter, who leads a team of tutors providing pastoral care for student veterinary nurses at the University of Bristol;
  • Hatti Smart, a student veterinary surgeon who is playing a leadership role in the veterinary LGBT+ community;
  • VN Council member Matthew Rendle, who talks about the importance of everyday kindness in leading others;
  • Sam Joseph from StreetVet, who talks about how the plight of the homeless and their animals led to the foundation of the life-changing programme;
  • University of Nottingham PhD student Bobby Hyde who talks about the importance of good communication, even when it comes to complex topics;
  • Richard Artingstall, clinical director at a Gloucestershire referral centre, who talks about the links between leading a practice, and hands-on clinical work;
  • Victoria Fyfe, a veterinary nurse based near Durham who leads and inspires her practice team to engage with the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme;
  • Professor Joanna Price, Vice-Chancellor of the Royal Agricultural University talks about the importance of vision and strategy in leadership; and,
  • Ross Allan, a partner at a Glasgow-based veterinary hospital focuses on how vets can take the lead in controlling their own destinies.

The full video for the showcase and a digital copy of the booklet featuring 12 in-depth interviews with the inspiring veterinary leaders can be found on the campaign’s dedicated webpage.