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International Women’s Day 2024

7 March 2024

To mark International Women’s Day (IWD) we spoke to Michelle Johnson, our new Clinical Executive Director, and Pramjit Rai, one of our Product Assurance Managers, about their role, career to date and what inspires them.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Michelle: When I was a young adult IWD wasn’t a day that I thought about much, probably because as a nurse I spent all day mostly working with women and we were pretty powerful and influential! Increasingly it feels more important to me. Being a Mum to a young woman, I see this as an opportunity to talk about women’s issues and to celebrate successes.

Pramjit: For me it’s not only a celebration of how far women have come, but also recognition that there is still work to be done. I think IWD brings women of all backgrounds together in acknowledgement of our gender and this is unity and strength for a common purpose.

Who is the most inspiring woman in your life?

Michelle: My Mum inspires me, she managed to work and raise children and made it look easy, which I know it isn’t! 

Pramjit: I can’t choose one sorry! Grandma and Nani, they’ve been so strong and held their families up. When I think of the opposition they would’ve faced in their lives, it gives me strength when I think I’m having a bad time. My mum of course, and my cousin who was basically written off because she got divorced years ago (which was frowned upon in my community back then). She was told her children will amount to nothing, but they grew up to be successful property developers! My cousin also managed to raise her children, maintain her career and see the best in life – she inspires me.

What advice would you give to other women aspiring to your role?

Michelle: Be authentic and true to yourself. Take the opportunities when they come, even if the imposter in you is telling you you shouldn’t!

Pramjit: My advice is to understand the subject you’re interested in so you can talk to anyone at any level about it.  I would also say, as a woman, your career may be impacted by life issues i.e. caring responsibilities which can impact your mental health resulting in a loss of confidence and self esteem. So, build resilience in yourself and believe in yourself!  I took quite a few steps back in my career when I came to NHS Supply Chain.  I did it for personal reasons. So, do what you need to do to maintain self-preservation – that is the most important thing.  You can pick a career back up if you have the skills, knowledge, experience and tenacity – hopefully – I’ll let you know how that goes!

Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?

Michelle: It enriches all we do and we achieve much more when there is diversity across all protected characteristics. A chance to learn about others should be central to what we do. 

Pramjit: Diversity is all about difference, without that you get the same perspective which won’t sustain a business. You need diversity of thought, cultures, genders, ethnicity, sexuality and more. The workforce should represent the real world who inevitably are our stakeholders and customers.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Michelle: Believe in yourself and be braver, oh and go travelling more!

Pramjit: Don’t get discouraged, and everything I said earlier!  Be comfortable in your skin – get to know you. Also look for inspirational/aspirational role models in all walks of life – male and female.

What work related accomplishment are you most proud of?

Michelle: I’m most proud of the work I did to support the clinical workforce during the Covid-19 pandemic, and valuing each and everyone of them.  

Pramjit: Creating good environments and cultures in my previous teams that the teams shape, and where people can grow and the organisation benefits from this. I am most proud of seeing members in my previous teams flourish and far exceed any expectations they may have had in their career paths. I love to implement strategies from the ground up, and (if I’ve done it right) to see the value it adds to the organisation and users of the service.

Michelle Johnson
Michelle Johnson
Clinical Executive Director
Pramjit Rai
Product Assurance Manager

I wanted to become a nurse when I was 11 years old and I’m pleased to say I still am one some 40 plus years on. 

Michelle Johnson
Clinical Executive Director

What’s your biggest personal achievement in life so far?

Michelle: I’m most proud to have held some absolutely amazing jobs whilst also balancing work and life. 

Pramjit: Obviously, the family stuff! However, I had the opportunity to work with a production team during the pandemic as a writer. The result was our production was put on Pop Smoke’s Faith album. The track is ‘Tell The Vision’ and then it was resampled on Kanye West’s Donda album under the same name! It kept me very busy during lockdown and I got a real insight into how the music business works. I’m still waiting for my royalties!

What led you to this career?

Michelle: It sounds a bit corny but I don’t know. I wanted to become a nurse when I was 11 years old and I’m pleased to say I still am one some 40 plus years on. 

Pramjit: I am not really sure… One role led to another and then I ended up here! I believe in doing the right thing and fairness, so that is why I got into NHS Complaints Management. It then led into governance and assurance and that is all about doing the right thing and mitigating the risk. Procurement was a new one for me, I’m really enjoying it though.

As a woman, your career may be impacted by life issues i.e. caring responsibilities which can impact your mental health resulting in a loss of confidence and self esteem.

Pramjit Rai
Product Assurance Manager

Which behaviour or personality trait do you attribute your success to? 

Michelle: Kind words.

Pramjit: Tenacity.

What’s one thing you wish you’d known when you started working at NHS Supply Chain or what advice would you give to a newbie?

Michelle: I still am a newbie so would welcome others wise words!

Pramjit: The procurement lingo…!