Proving her teachers wrong: Women CAN be doctors and so much more
Dipti Amin, Non-Executive Director Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, shares her story and how she has broken biases along the way.
I was delighted to be asked to share my journey thus far in celebration of International Women’s Day 2022.
I am Indian by birth and heritage, but I have been lucky enough to have travelled extensively both for work and leisure, which has given me a very broad and tolerant view of the world and a recognition that, regardless of differences in language and culture, essentially, we are all much more alike than we think.
I spent my childhood in Tanzania before my parents moved to the UK when I was aged 9. I hated my first few months because it was cold and wet, and I found it difficult to fit in at school because I was different and had an accent. But children are resilient and I soon adapted and settled in.
Both my parents were doctors and I decided that I wanted to be one too at the age of 7 years and that aim never changed. When it came to selecting my A-level subjects and then possible careers, I found several of my teachers discouraging me to become a doctor citing that it was a difficult job for women and not many went to medical school. This wasn’t great for my confidence, but I was lucky to have the support of both parents and my headmistress. I resolved that, as it was something I really wanted to do, I had to give it a go. I was over the moon when I was accepted by my first-choice medical school, and I felt vindicated.
After my undergraduate training, I decided to be a GP and I completed all the additional qualifications that were available at the time including specialising in Minor Surgery, Child Health, Family Planning as well we as obtaining diplomas in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Care of the Elderly, and the Membership examination of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
While considering opportunities to become a full partner in a GP practice I was offered a chance to work in a drug research facility at Guys Hospital, my old alma mater, which looked interesting and different. It also included a lecturer’s post in the medical school and some clinical sessions which gave me the best of all worlds. Ostensibly I went there for a six-month post but enjoyed it so much that I stayed for over 11 years. The last 5 of those years as head of the research unit, which enabled me to learn business skills and develop a mindset that recognised that high quality, outstanding clinical research, and financial success are inter-dependant as it creates a virtuous circle.
About 3 years after I joined the drug research unit, it was bought by an American company called Quintiles which itself was on a rapid growth trajectory. This gave me opportunities to advance to senior levels and work in a variety of different areas within drug development. Thus, I went from Director to Vice-President to Senior Vice President and ultimately Chief Compliance Officer reporting to the CEO and the Board of a 7-billion-dollar company with 55,000 employees across more than 100 countries, gaining experience in all phases of drug development covering clinical operations, pharmacovigilance, medical services, regulatory work, data management, statistics, medical writing, observational studies, quality, and ethics over a total period of 25 years.
When I decided to cease full time work, I opted for a portfolio career which for me has primarily consisted of non-executive roles including at this Trust, for a university and two commercial companies, one in the UK and one in the USA.
I have always thoroughly enjoyed working and for me the opportunities have come as a result of keeping an open mind and being willing to try new things, even when they felt outside my comfort zone, but which I won’t pretend has been easy.
I am passionate about supporting other women to succeed and I have mentored several people throughout my career.