I’m Natalie, I am 38 and currently work for the NHS in Birmingham and Solihull as Head of Children’s and Maternity Commissioning. I lead a team to support and ensure the health services commissioned for children, young people, women and families in Birmingham and Solihull are the best they can be. This includes working with partners across the system, such as our local authorities, children’s trust, community and acute health providers and voluntary sector organisations.
I live in Staffordshire with my two children, Heidi (7) and Jack (3). Growing up I lived in Derby, Sutton Coldfield and Leeds.
Despite the distractions, I always tried to work hard at school and was fortunate to have a supportive family who encouraged me to work hard and believe in myself. I achieved average grades in my GCSEs and A levels but excelled later in terms of my degree classification, then a Master’s in Public Health whilst working full time.
I got a job at 21, with Solihull Primary Care Trust. I bought my first house straight away, I felt empowered, incredibly lucky and massively proud to achieve this on my own. Just me and my then Bengal cat Bob!
I’ve had a variety of roles throughout my career so far, in both NHS and Local Government settings; Head of Health Improvement, Inequalities Programme Manager and Children’s Commissioning Lead at a local County Council. I’m driven both personally and professionally.
I hope I am testament, like many other women and men who are able to start and raise a family and continue to work. Admittedly at times it is tough to be the best mum, stay career focussed and juggle life with all it throws at us. I was fortunate enough to take a year’s maternity leave with both my children, I loved every second with them. Both times I eased straight back into work, it wasn’t long until I felt like I’d never been away. The mum guilt was always present, still is at times but I remind myself that being a role model to my children is key.
Right after I had Jack and returned to Staffordshire County Council, I saw my current role advertised and was instantly excited and determined to get it. Fast forward and I’ve been in post at the CCG for 18 months. I love my job, the organisation and team/colleagues. Recently I have been inspired by our Owning and Driving Performance Organisational Developmental programme – I’m trying to bring some of what we covered routinely into work but also personally.
A typical week for me consists of commuting, working hard, running around like a headless chicken juggling swimming lessons, brownies, gymnastics, school and nursery runs and googling how to help Heidi do her homework. I do like to work and play hard and love playing netball too. Having played for Birmingham and West Midlands and coming close to getting into England on several attempts, I am inspired by how popular the game has become and how good our women’s national team are. The fact it is now televised on sky sports is amazing, it’s about time. My team recently made a cameo on court at the Arena Birmingham.
It would be remiss of me not to mention my mum on International Woman’s Day. I would never be able to function without her support, we are so close. Similarly, I have a great relationship with Heidi. I encourage her to be brave, confident and happy and able to kick butt given she is training in a discipline of martial arts. I have the same aspirations for my son and myself.
So on this International Women’s Day (and beyond), we should all celebrate the immense significance, value and diversity of women. I strive to be the best person I can be, as a mum, friend, colleague and woman. It’s important we challenge stereotypes, attitudes and judgement together.
Happy International Women’s Day.