awards

I am a Swan Envoy

Press Release from Buckinghamshire Council 
12 May 2022 
Buckinghamshire’s Swan Envoys spread their wings at launch event 
 

The Buckinghamshire Swan Envoy Scheme officially launched at Pinewood Studios on Tuesday evening (10 May) with the first twelve Swan Envoys inaugurated into their new role.
From influential community leaders to much-loved local celebrities, each Buckinghamshire Swan Envoy has one thing in common – they are inspiring individuals who are committed to helping to promote Buckinghamshire as a great place to grow, live and work.
The new scheme, developed by Buckinghamshire Council in partnership with the Lord Lieutenancy, is designed to harness the influence and enthusiasm of the individual Swans to inspire and encourage others and create one powerful network of voices, working together with the council and its partners, to promote Buckinghamshire as a thriving and exciting county. 

The twelve new Swan Envoys are:
•	April Benson
•	Jane Campbell
•	Andy Collins
•	Keyaan Hameed
•	Karen Irons
•	Lorraine Kelly CBE
•	Sir David Lidington
•	Martin McElhatton OBE
•	Pauline Quirk
•	Alice Rose
•	John Shaw
•	Angela Spang

Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council said: “I’m delighted to welcome our founding Swan Envoys. I would like to thank each and every one of them for their willingness to share what I know is some of their very valuable and limited time, to support, motivate and showcase the great people and communities that we have in our special county.

“We already know that Buckinghamshire is a great place for so many reasons, and together we can help spread that message and inspire and encourage everyone to believe in Buckinghamshire!”  

At the inauguration ceremony, the Swan Envoys were introduced by Martin Tett and Buckinghamshire Council Chief Executive, Rachael Shimmin. They were each presented with their personal Swan pin badge and a certificate by HM Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, The Countess Howe.
 
 
Swan Envoys
April Benson
April Benson has been Chief Executive Officer of Aylesbury Women’s Aid since 2019,  providing inspiring leadership of the charity through the past two, very challenging, years. April established and delivered the Women’s Aid Freedom Programme locally and developed the Aylesbury Women’s Aid Relational Empowerment programme for teenage girls.
April was winner of the Community Impact Bucks Outstanding Leadership in the Women in Charity Awards 2021.

Jane Campbell
Jane Campbell is a successful Buckinghamshire businesswoman, Managing Director of a growing local firm, PCL Corporatewear.
In recognition of her unique leadership skills, Jane was named Business Leader of the Year at the Buckinghamshire Business Awards in 2017. She was also a Bucks Growth Champion in 2018 and a finalist for Businesswoman of the Year in the SME Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire awards in 2019.

Andy Collins 
Andy Collins is a comedian, television and radio presenter, and has been a warm-up act for many popular entertainment shows. More locally Andy is a well-known and much-loved stalwart of the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre pantomime.  Andy currently hosts the BBC Three Counties Radio breakfast show and is also a Bucks Herald columnist.

Keyaan Hameed 
Keyaan Hameed is a Street Hero and has been appointed as a youth ambassador for the One Can Trust.  Aged just 15, Keyaan founded his eco-friendly SOUP-a-CANdle business, upcycling old soup cans into candles, with the money raised donated to the One Can Trust.
He also set up ‘Take One or Leave One’ coat rails for people in need in High Wycombe and Aylesbury. Keyaan won the Proud of Bucks Young Community Hero award in 2021.

Karen Irons 
Karen Irons is Chief Executive Officer at Maytree Respite Centre. Karen uses her insight and experience to help charities develop their business & financial models. She is passionate about helping organisations to find solutions, unlock potential and develop new ideas.
Karen is a committed and active member of the Buckinghamshire community, being a trustee and board member of The Clare Foundation and a School Governor.

Lorraine Kelly CBE 
Lorraine Kelly trained as a journalist before moving successfully into a long-running television career. She also writes weekly columns for national media and is a published author.
Lorraine is a keen supporter of charities, taking part every year in the in the 26-mile breast cancer charity ‘Moonwalk’ and is a patron on Help for Heroes and the STV Children’s Appeal. In in 2012, Lorraine was awarded the OBE for services to charity and in 2020, received a CBE for services to broadcasting, journalism and charity.

Sir David Lidington
Sir David Lidington is a former Conservative MP who represented the constituency of Aylesbury from 1992 until 2019.
He has held a number of key positions both in opposition and in government including Minister of State for Europe at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice and Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
In September 2019 Sir David received a knighthood for political and public service.

Martin McElhatton OBE 
Martin McElhatton is a wheelchair basketball Paralympian and Chief Executive of WheelPower, a charity which promotes sport and active lives for disabled people. Martin is a Board Member of LEAP, the Bucks & Milton Keynes Sport and Activity Partnership, and is a Trustee of National Paralympic Heritage Trust.
In 2020 Martin was awarded an OBE for services to disability sport.

Pauline Quirk 
Pauline Quirk is an award-winning actor and founder of the Pauline Quirk Academy, a performing arts school for children and young people.  Pauline has recently launched the ‘PQA Trust’ to help deprived children access performing arts training, to help build their confidence and learn skills for life.
Pauline supports a number of children’s charities, being an honorary member of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and a patron of the Rennie Grove Hospice.

Alice Rose 
During the Covid pandemic, at the age of 17, Alice Rose set up Alice's Positivity Boxes. Alice creates parcels of donated goodies and distributes them to young adults and teenagers who are struggling with mental health issues, those who are permanently in hospital or those who are underprivileged
Alice is also a trained mental health peer mentor and is actively involved in local mental health charities.

John Shaw
John Shaw co-founded and is Managing Director of the social enterprise, Chiltern Rangers. The organisation is a thriving local conservation community interest company which works with local communities to protect Buckinghamshire and Chiltern Hills.  His organisation provides a range of education and training opportunities for young people and works with schools on the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.

Angela Spang
Angela Spang is Chief Executive Officer of JUNE MEDICAL group. With over 25 years’ experience as a successful entrepreneur, Angela has a deep understanding of building successful businesses and operating across the globe.
Angela is known for being generous with her advice on all aspects of running a business.  In 2018, Angela was a Bucks Growth Champion and in 2021 was a recipient of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category.

“Creativity gets killed”

close up of human hand

When I consider all the organizations I have studied and worked with over the past 22 years, there can be no doubt: creativity gets killed much more often than it gets supported. For the most part, this isn’t because managers have a vendetta against creativity. On the contrary, most believe in the value of new and useful ideas. However, creativity is undermined unintentionally every day in work environments that were established—for entirely good reasons—to maximize business imperatives such as coordination, productivity, and control. This is even more true in the world of medicine; “untested” is a bad thing.

Surgeons cannot be expected to ignore the need for innovation and testing new things, of course. But in working healthcare systems built on established guidelines, safety first and indeed….adhering to the code of Do No Harm, we have designed organizations that systematically crush creativity.

What Is Business Creativity?

We tend to associate creativity with the arts and to think of it as the expression of highly original ideas. Think of how Pablo Picasso reinvented the conventions of painting or how William Faulkner redefined fiction. In business, originality isn’t enough. To be creative, an idea must also be appropriate—useful and actionable. It must somehow influence the way business gets done—by improving a product, for instance, or by opening up a new way to approach a process.

The associations made between creativity and artistic originality often lead to confusion about the appropriate place of creativity in business organizations. In meetings, I’ve asked other leaders if there is any place they don’t want creativity in their companies. About 80% of the time, they answer, “Accounting.” Creativity, we seem to believe, belongs just in marketing and R&D.

Building an innovation system can yield improvement ideas that reshape health care practices, but this rarely happen seamlessly. The following excerpt from the IHI Innovation System white paper presents five types of challenges inherent in most innovation systems and what IHI has learned about overcoming them.

5 Innovation Challenges and Tips for Overcoming Them (ihi.org)

Challenge Creates Innovation

Personally, I have a great example where the two worlds (my creativity and lust for problem solving vs the “we have always done it like this”) meet. Go back a couple of years, and enter St Mary’s Hospital in London, an old building that looks like it has secret corridors, hidden passages and at least 3 floors that nobody can seem to access. The staff room is a small room with a floor that leans to the east, with a view over London’s rooftops and chimneys. The only way I can ever find it (yet to this day) is through the back entrance spiral stone staircase, up, up, up…

Standing behind a surgeon learning about the challenges they meet on a daily basis (every patient is unique) is an option to not just learn, but also to innovate. For me, it is a unique situation: I am the only Medtech CEO in the world that has the background of a trained ballerina combined with a women’s health education learning  surgical  game changer TVT from the inventor Ulf Ulmsten himself. I watch how surgeons move, I understand anatomy in a different way, and I can mimic movements down to individual muscles. I am trained to memorize patterns, flow and rhythm. I physically flinch when a move looks awkward or strenuous, and I instinctively know how to fix it.

Watching a surgeon getting frustrated by trying to correctly position the frame and tighten a screw on an old blue plastic retractor sparked one of those moments in me, and I was trying to lighten the mood in the room by commenting: “Not a great design, that blue thing!” I was rewarded with a grin from the scrub nurse, and a smile from the surgeon, who quickly replied: “Let me guess, you make a better one?!”

“Not yet, but I bet I can!”

Nothing makes me more interested to do something than someone telling me I probably can’t. I have a long list of things I have done, purely because of a challenge. Fast forward a couple of years, and Galaxy II is now a global brand, sold in over 40 countries in a range of surgeries. We have launched the worlds first ever light attachment (again a challenge I needed to solve, this time from surgeons doing charity work in Africa and needing better intra cavity light) and won The Queens Award for Innovation in 2021.

Expertise and creative thinking are an individual’s raw materials—his or her natural resources, if you will. But a third factor—motivation—determines what people will actually do. The scientist can have outstanding educational credentials and a great facility in generating new perspectives to old problems. But if she lacks the motivation to do a particular job, she simply won’t do it; her expertise and creative thinking will either go untapped or be applied to something else. Read more about Creativity in this Harvard Business Review Article: How to Kill Creativity (hbr.org)

Summarize me and JUNE: Attempt 1

I have tried to summarize me in a few words for the Goldman Sachs 10k I am just about to embark on. How do you think I did?

Here is what I wrote:

Making healthcare better for the women and girls you love.

Multi award-winning innovator and serial entrepreneur. (thats from LinkedIn, true but braggy sounding on here.)

I don’t like Brexit

I am Swedish, living in the UK since 12 years, still struggling to not translate and try to explain swedish expressions (eg “There is no danger on the roof”) during business conversations.

Useless education

Trained ballerina, rocks parallel parking but can’t cook. Once burnt boiling eggs.

It’s complicated

Like talking strategy, change and people. Enthusiastic introvert who has to do the hakka before networking. Residential will take all my energy, but I am really looking forward to learning from everyone on the programme.

JUNE Medical

June was a code name from the beginning, but it got stuck so I kept it. We focus on surgical women’s health, anything that is in the operating theatre and give women the opportunity to get back on their feet faster, back to the life they want to live. We distribute medical devices for some of the largest companies in healthcare, as well as making our own solutions when we don’t find good products (Galaxy II is such a project).
I have been supporting The Fistula Foundation with surgical equipment for many years, and my GalaxyII project is an important cornerstone in that goal.
I am on the programme to ensure I make the best choices and optimise where and how we can contribute to improving healthcare for women and girls.

Dad before Awards

A little while back I mentioned how important it is for me to be nominated and rewarded with awards. As you may have seen, I have recently been shortlisted as Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 by First Women, something I am immensely proud of.

There is just one problem.

The judging process works in such a way that the Finalists are asked to attend a judging session in London (this year on May 16th), to answer questions (not previously shared with attendees) in front of a judging panel.

And I can’t be there. I will be in Sweden, with my father whom I love so very, very much. He is not well (prostate cancer), and this will be a time when all his three children are there together for the first time in a long while (my sister lives in Mexico). So obviously, I am going to Sweden.

I thought about flying back to attend the interview, but my heart tells me no.  We will see what they say: if this means I am forfeiting my place as a finalist or not.

I wanted to share this for two reasons:

  1. Family ALWAYS comes first. Always.
  2. Look around. There will be SO MANY people around you who were never awarded a trophy of ANY kind. But they may be brilliant, amazing people, who just chose to put family before fame. Always give people the recognition they deserve for a job well done.

 

Why it is important for me to be recognised with Awards

It is always flattering to be nominated or suggested for awards and nominations, and obviously, I would be lying if I told you it doesn’t boost my ego or confidence I am human; of course it does! But I want to share with you the most important reason why it is important for me to be recognised as a leader, as an entrepreneur and an innovator. It is much bigger than just me.

I come from a small town in Sweden. I grew up pretty uncertain about a lot of things, but I always had a strong (some would say too strong) sense of what is Right and Wrong. I could handle a lot of things, but I always struggled with unfairness, and with undeserved authority (again, some would argue any authority…). A lot of the times this would get me in trouble, as I was fiercely (and naively) fighting for what I believed was right.

I haven’t given up that approach, but I have become much smarter about it.

Winning awards does two things for me:

It validates what I am doing: I run my companies not just to make money (I haven’t taken an actual salary yet, and the small profits are reinvested in research, development and staff training), but to do good. My work with Direct Relief and The Fistula Foundations are two tangible examples (read more here).

It also gives me a platform to speak from. I have almost 10 000 followers on twitter, and a large network on LinkedIn. I have been asked for comments by The Washington Post, on CNBC, BBC and other media. This means that when the times comes for me to really make a difference, I can start with a very large network, and go from there.

There are also numerous other benefits: It validates the companies to customers and partners, it gives my teams a boost, it brings us tremendous joy to go to award ceremonies together (and win!). Obviously, none of the awards would happen without I, M, T, D, E, R, O, J, L, L, R and T, which they know very well: a leader isn’t a leader without the team who chose to follow her. And the fact that THEY chose to follow ME, is the biggest award a true leader could ever get.

THAT is the real reward.

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