Opinion Real Lives

Family matters – my career journey in social care

Ann Holt, Divisional Director for Adults, Salutem Care and Education

Ann Holt, Divisional Director for Adults, Salutem Care and Education

I’ve worked in various jobs across health and social care and have both enjoyed and endured the different aspects of these roles. I have worked through some fun and tough times along the way, and it would be fair to say that the sector has been a huge part of my life since my late teens! I think this has helped me on my leadership path, because I know what my teams are experiencing, and this helps me to support and guide them.

Understanding what colleagues actually do is essential for a leader. How can you make the tough decisions if you don’t fully understand the complexities of the job?

Those who are familiar with social care will know that the workforce is predominantly female, however, as with most sectors where this is the case, the higher up you get, the more men you get in leadership positions. For me, I’m delighted to be one of many women at a senior leadership level in Salutem, because it’s important for colleagues at all levels to see themselves reflected in management positions. They can see that women are making the decisions, being positive role models and leading by example.

I joined the team at Salutem in 2018 and, since then, I’ve built a reputation for myself as someone who is open, supportive, fair and accessible. In our organisation, our values call on us to see each other as family, and I hope that’s how they see me – as someone who’s not too important to connect with them.

When developing teams, it is important to recognise people’s skills and encourage individuals to shine.  A part of my role that I really love is adopting a coaching and mentoring approach, which in turn impacts on the care and support provided to individuals to live their best lives!

I’m a firm believer that your experiences shape you, and, for me, both personal and professional moments have led me to where I am today. Salutem is one of the most positive leadership experiences I’ve had in my career and the team I work with, both men and women, are incredibly supportive with advice, feedback and encouragement.

The Salutem family was a massive support to me when, in February 2021, my dad died from COVID. It was so difficult to get up and get on with the job when the pandemic, something so raw in my mind, was something we had to deal with and make decisions about every day. I knew I couldn’t turn my back on my work and being able to focus on my role really allowed me to demonstrate my resilience and strength as a leader. My dad was a huge inspiration to me, and he wouldn’t want me to hide away. I am happy that I became the person he would have wanted me to be.

It was bleak at times, but it showed me just what I could do, and today I’m in a corporate role with a company I love, winning an award and writing for a sector magazine. My dad would be so proud.

I strive to be an inspiration for my daughter, a fierce and fun-loving seven-year-old, who sees me juggling a leadership role with the most important job I do – being her mum. It’s a challenge and sometimes it’s a struggle, but I love that she sees me working hard and that others understand that it’s not impossible to balance work and home life.

To all the women in social care, whether you’re new to the sector or you’re at the top of your game, make sure your talent is invested in, your passions are developed and that you get the support to go as far as you want to go. The sky’s the limit, and you never know who you’re inspiring on the way.

Kirsty

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