B4SI News

In Conversation with Bupa

  1. Please describe your role and responsibilities, how many years you have been in the company?

I’m Head of Community for Bupa Global and UK – this means I look after the community activity across Bupa’s businesses in the UK geography, including shaping the Bupa UK Foundation’s flagship programme and national charity partnership.

I’ve been in the role for 6 months but have worked for Bupa for 13 years. With a lot of hard work and a bit of good luck I’ve worked in lots of different roles and learnt an incredible amount – everything from working on reception in Salford, to managing environmental reporting and charity partnerships in London, to Acting Head of Corporate Affairs in Auckland.

 

  1. What was your background previously and where did your interest in community begin?

Humans are fascinating. I could sit and people watch for hours. I’ve always enjoyed watching and learning how we interact with the places we live and work, and the cultures that form as a result. I studied human and social geography at Newcastle University.

Great things can happen when people come together for a cause.

 

  1. How has your community investment program evolved at your company?

Bupa has no shareholders and is a purpose led organisation, helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives. We have a long history of giving and community engagement. We are currently shaping our community investment approach to support mental wellbeing and resilience. We support our customers’ and employees’ mental wellbeing, and we know there’s a huge community need. So, we’re looking at how we can share our skills and partner with others to focus on community mental wellbeing.

 

  1. What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?

There’s always more to do! That’s the biggest challenge. I try to focus on the progress made, and one of the joys of this role is that there’s no end of positive stories. I lead the Bupa Group’s community reporting, from Madrid to Melbourne to Manchester and everything in between. I’m filled with such pride bringing all the measures together. Sometimes the smallest things have the biggest personal impact, for example Bupa UK took part in Community Christmas where people who may otherwise spend Christmas alone come to share Christmas dinner at a care home. The stories brought tears to my eyes.

 

  1. What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?

I’d have to say the programme I had the privilege of setting up in New Zealand in Rotorua, a city in the middle of the north island (if anyone’s been to New Zealand, this is the place famous for geothermal activity and smelling of sulphur, as well as having a strong Māori community). The city has an aging population and dementia is on the rise. I worked with the local council to bring together local businesses, other care providers and volunteers to help make Rotorua dementia-friendly.

I knew I wasn’t going to be in NZ for ever, and so told myself that my role in the dementia-friendly programme was to do myself out of a job to help make the project self-sustaining. That was my personal measure of success. I returned to the UK after two years, and am delighted to say that 4 years in and the group have done some fantastic things from hosting public art installations, to a dementia-friendly bank. And every year they turn the town purple during dementia awareness week. As well as that, across the country Bupa NZ was the first aged care provider to receive the national Alzheimer’s New Zealand Dementia Friendly Award.

In any project I now go into, I’ve carried forward my NZ mentality ‘how can I do myself out of a job’. Sounds bizarre at first, but I’ve found it really helps to think about the sustainability of the programme.

 

  1. What is your motto in life?

He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.

What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.

Māori proverb.