Chipping away at long-standing stereotypes | #TeamBartsHealth blogs

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Chipping away at long-standing stereotypes

Meet Niki Lewis, catalogue and buying manager in our procurement team, and one of our Barts Health inspiring women. To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day we spoke to her about her journey to the NHS, her hopes for the future and who inspires her.

Niki ‘s first experience in healthcare was at 18 years, working as a healthcare assistant for mentally handicapped adults. She later completed her university degree in the arts before transitioning to the retail world, taking on management positions in MotherCare and Virgin Megastores.

“I was meandering through the early stages of my career with no real purpose, or direction,” said Niki. “I was lucky enough to be offered an opportunity at JP Morgan, which is where my role in procurement began.”

Following 11 years at JP Morgan, Niki moved on to new pastures. She successfully completed the CIPS qualification which brought her experience of retail, operations and healthcare together.

“I began temping in capital projects office at Crawley Hospital in June 2012, just as the Olympics were being held in London, and I’ve stayed in the NHS ever since.

Niki strives to make Barts Health a happier place to work, and is part of the trust’s violence and aggression collaborative.

“From the moment I stepped on to the shop floor to now, I’ve always had a passion to help to solve people’s problems. I always ask myself, how can I make things easier for others?”

With this mantra in mind Niki began the smart ordering club at Barts Health to reduce common procurement frustrations across the organisation:

“If my team and I can help one person find the answer to their question quickly, that may prevent them from returning home in a bad mood, or having to mask frustrations from patients. Everything we do influences patient care.”

Team wellbeing and support is key for Niki. She looks out for others like her team do for her, however she acknowledges that procurement is a largely male-dominated field that can present some challenges:

“You have to give as good as you get, and use everything you’ve learnt in your career to make sure you aren’t the person who orders the coffees,” said Niki. “My experience has given me a degree of confidence, but those female stereotypes still play on your mind no matter how long you’ve been working in the field!”

When asked what motivates her to create a fairer world Niki believes it is “just the right thing to do”. She adds:

“There are two statements that run around my head. The first, be kind always. The second, don’t waste. Life’s little actions can make a huge impact if we work together.”

Niki believes that we are moving to a more accepting society, “I’ve grown up in a world where  stereotypes are slowly being chipped away, and I love chatting to people who challenge norms.” Yet, in the next 10 years she would like to see the gender pay gap eliminated once and for all:


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