My name is Hannah Curwood and I have been a veterinary professional since 2001. My journey began as a Veterinary Nurse, I then progressed to become a Head Nurse, a Practice Manager, Project Manager, General Manager and Co-Founder of The London Animal Hospital.

I believe my career path was somewhat typical. While I was brimming full of technical knowledge, it was difficult to obtain formal management or leadership training over the course of this journey, other than the CPD events I could manage to attend once or twice a year. Our profession is full of extremely dexterous, nimble and intelligent individuals and, while many of us successfully learn the ropes on the job, this ‘sink or swim’ mentality can cause great distress to those who suddenly find themselves in charge of a team and have to navigate their way through without regular education and mentorship. Of course, this can also cause great distress to the team!

While the way we have been doing things can work, I believe we can do better. Leadership and Management are evolving disciplines and one can always ‘know more’. As a manager myself, I know how stressful and lonely a position like this can be if support is not provided. It is my mission to create a culture of education and support for leaders in our industry that goes beyond KPI reviews and annual conferences. Ideally, I believe clinicians and other team members should be provided with leadership training and guidance as they progress to Head Vet, Head Nurse, Head Receptionist or Practice Manager. Mentorship, education and the offer of constant support when things become rough, a sympathetic ear that fills the gap between ‘having a bad day’ and calling Vetlife can help to avoid common leadership pitfalls and reassure leaders that the journey can be arduous but is ultimately extremely rewarding.

I also know that being a Practice Manager is one of the busiest jobs in the world, we are expected to be leaders, HR professionals, accountants, clinical auditors, marketing professionals, client liaison officers - the list goes on and on. I know that PMs are time poor and find it difficult to find the time to institute the many ideas and lessons they come away from conferences with or business initiatives that practice owners demand.

I have been fortunate to work in practices where innovation was encouraged and embraced and love working on the floor with teams to ensure new initiatives are carried out in a way that involves rather than isolates. I have also been fortunate enough to select, nurture and train fantastic teams of incredible people who I have learned a great deal from in return.