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Lorraine Whitehead

Lorraine Whitehead
Lorraine Whitehead

Director of Estates, Facilities and PFI

  • Why did you choose the career you have?

I started as a trainee in Trust Headquarters 35 years ago.  I was inspired and supported in my personal development by some amazing colleagues and was delighted to secure my first managerial role five years later as Residences Manager.  This introduced me to the world of estates and from the minute I took on the role I fell in love with non-clinical services and the amazing staff that work so hard to support our clinical teams in delivering the highest standards of patient care.       

  • What challenges have you faced getting to where you are now?

I struggled with my self-confidence, particularly in the early stages of my career - Imposter syndrome and constantly comparing myself with others. I placed too much pressure on myself to be ‘super human’ – a super mum, fabulous wife, wonderful work colleague, amazing friend, first class student …and the list goes on! I found it really difficult to juggle the competing priorities of part-time studying to achieve my degree and Masters, whist working full-time and raising our children. Traditionally Estates is a very male-dominated profession, with only a small number of female estates directors working across the NHS. 

 I had to work really hard to build credibility and prove my competence to my network of peers and representatives from professional organisations. I pushed through the challenges and one of my proudest days is when I presented at a National Estates Conference with hundreds of professionals in the room (95% of which were men) and talked about the importance of compassionate leadership and collaborative working and the critical place this has in transforming our NHS estate and the services we deliver to our patients.    

  • How does what you do make a difference to other people?

I feel what I do improves the quality of care and experience our patients receive and that it supports staff welfare and wellbeing. I would like to think that I could inspire others to follow in my footsteps. Regardless of where they start in life, or where they start in their career, they can achieve their full potential. I believe I am a good role model and that by setting myself high standards and holding myself to account, I inspire others to do so too.

 I hope I have shown other women and girls, and indeed everyone, that a woman can build a successful career in a male-dominated profession and shine. I would like to think that my children have observed the enjoyment and fulfilment my career at UHNM has given me and have recognised how important this is as they start their respective careers (my son’s being in the NHS). 

  • What would you say to other women aspiring to be in a similar field of healthcare and who may have doubts about their ability to achieve their goals?

I would say believe in yourself in the way that others believe in you and don’t let your inner demons stop you from realising your full potential - if others are telling you that you are great, that’s because you are.  Don’t try and be all things to all people – it’s ok not to strive for excellence in everything you do and it’s ok to not know the answer.  Look to those around you and our army of support in our amazing UHNM family. 

Look after yourself and your own wellbeing – you can’t successfully look after others if you don’t look after yourself. Embrace career development opportunities to realise your full potential – but don’t let this be at the expense of keeping a healthy balance of work and home and enjoying and embracing life in and outside of work.

Be courageous and do your bit to break down traditional barriers and stereotypes - enjoy the enormous satisfaction this brings knowing you have done your bit to make the world a more equitable and harmonious place for us all to enjoy.