The MBS Group is delighted to welcome Hatty Cadman to The MBS Group as Director of our Healthcare Practice. Supporting clients at Board, Executive Committee and leadership levels, the Practice combines extensive experience in and a deep understanding of the wide and varied Healthcare sector, as well as access to relevant talent pools in adjacent consumer-facing industries. In this week’s column, Hatty shares why she’s passionate about healthcare, the priorities for today’s leaders and why it’s time to think differently about talent strategies in the global healthcare sector.
Healthcare is a world in which people make all the difference. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the work I do, I’m hugely interested in leaders and the colleagues they work with. In healthcare, leadership is critical: what those at the helm of organisations choose to prioritise strategically, and how they make their colleagues feel and think, really can change everything.
That is what makes me so thrilled to have joined The MBS Group this month and to be heading up our Healthcare Practice. Bringing nearly 20 years’ experience in executive search, and alongside my new colleagues, I’m building a vibrant, broad-based Practice that complements and adds to the work MBS is doing in the consumer-facing sectors.
I fell in love with healthcare about a decade ago. The sector’s breadth is part of its excitement, its vibrancy. It embraces focused clinical service providers; emerging digital innovators and the long-standing providers transforming to match them; the creativity, drive and curiosity of life sciences; the world-changing possibilities of genomics; technical manufacturing; global pharmaceutical behemoths; the excitement of femtech; and the complexity of different national health systems. The innovation taking place – from RNA-sequencing at Oxford Nanopore to the game-changing femtech products at Elvie – is both extraordinary and very motivating, as are the possibilities it brings to transform our lives.
Above all, there’s the real sense of common purpose in the sector. No matter their role, everyone in healthcare comes to work to assist people with recovery or help people live healthy lives. Supporting businesses that provide healthcare services to hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people, and the extraordinary clinicians and scientists who make that work real every day, is a huge privilege.
In that context, at MBS we are looking forward to advising across healthcare’s breadth, working with the owners, investors and Boards of established players and the giants of the future, to bring the inclusive, motivating, creative leadership that the sector is looking for.
We are moving into an incredibly exciting time for the healthcare sector. In response to the pandemic, organisations of all sizes and scopes are increasing the pace and creativity of innovation, and transforming their propositions to cater for a shift in consumer and patient expectations. Existing trends have accelerated, and what people expect from healthcare has changed: we’re now looking for digitisation, personalisation, convenience, and for products and services to interact with us more intimately as individuals. As part of this, investment levels are rising significantly, as businesses grow to seize the opportunities at hand.
“Existing trends have accelerated, and what people expect from healthcare has changed: we’re now looking for digitisation, personalisation, convenience, and for products and services to interact with us more intimately as individuals. As part of this, investment levels are rising significantly, as businesses grow to seize the opportunities at hand.”
This landscape brings the need for imaginative, skilful, and inclusive leaders, who are able to maximise the potential ahead. One of the things that excites me most is that our thinking around what makes a good leader in healthcare is changing – for the better, I think!
The challenges and horrors of the last 18 months have been intensely humanising, for leaders and their colleagues alike. Particularly in clinical service settings, we are going to see new expectations around the authenticity people expect from their leaders. An example that springs to mind is a powerful Christmas video message from a hospital group CEO last year, discussing the kindness found in and around their organisation. The video will bring a lump to your throat, and I very much hope that our longer-term response to the pandemic will include the recognition that leaders should have this sort of deep and instinctive connection to their business’ values.
In parallel, the digital transition accelerated by the pandemic is going to have an impact on leadership that we can’t yet fully see. We know from other sectors that as businesses become more digitally enabled, leaders gain greater and more frequent insights into their organisation – around employee morale, for example, or customer activity. While offering leaders much more granularity about performance, this brings the challenge of how to remain focused on long-term objectives rather than being drawn into reactive responses. More than ever, CEOs are going to need a strong strategic north star as the digital revolution in healthcare is embedded.
Entering this period, I am clear that healthcare could benefit, for some roles, from being more creative about where it sources talent. As a sector, healthcare has historically – and rightly – valued subject matter expertise very highly. But it is my conviction today that the nature of the challenges facing the healthcare sector will make cross-pollination from other innovative consumer spaces extremely important.
“It is my conviction today that the nature of the challenges facing the healthcare sector will make cross-pollination from other innovative consumer spaces extremely important.”
This is something I’m excited to do at MBS. Through this sort of cross-pollination, we can make imaginative appointments that drive businesses of all types forward in new and exciting directions. The healthcare sector is full of innovation, and in five years’ time it’s my hope that we can point to companies that we have helped to grow, establish themselves and become successful, and to others we have helped transform, so they can continue to thrive.
Building diverse leadership teams that can create inclusive, safe cultures is right at the heart of what drives me. Covid-19 brought to light the emotional and mental health challenges talented colleagues can face, and of the role employers play in supporting good emotional health and enabling colleagues with disabilities and/or physical or mental health challenges to thrive.
Inclusivity is beyond critical to good leadership – and in healthcare it is quite literally a matter of life and death. Historically, gender representation on boards has been a priority – and it certainly should continue to be a focus – but we need a more holistic commitment to diversity from boards and investors now.
“Inclusivity is beyond critical to good leadership – and in healthcare it is quite literally a matter of life and death.”
As Moira makes clear in her manifesto for board success, Boards of the Future, “combining Directors whose backgrounds and experiences – professional and personal – are varied and wide-ranging results in better conversations, more innovation and creative problem solving”. We have seen in healthcare recently the devastating impact of racial inequality on colleagues from black and ethnic minority backgrounds: this must be a catalyst for greater inclusivity and safer cultures.
There is so much change in the healthcare sector today, and I’m excited for MBS to be a part of it. As clinical services and our healthcare systems evolve, there are lessons that healthcare can learn from its adjacent consumer-facing sectors, and insights that healthcare leaders can bring to the conversation in the consumer space. I have spent much of the last few months discussing this with my new colleagues at MBS – in particular Moira, Elliott, Huw, Sam, and Mathew – which has brought to life even more strongly the crossover and shared trends between sectors. I’m looking forward to working with MBS’ amazing network of clients and bringing brilliant inclusive leaders to the top of healthcare companies, working with them as they lean into the next set of opportunities.