Ingrid Tennessee, CEO, Quo Vadis Trust
I grew up in a deprived area of Guyana, South America, but despite the challenges presented by this, became a Secondary School Teacher at a school where I was once a pupil, before moving to the UK in the early 90s.
I like to think I have a rich tapestry of experience that helps me navigate my current role as CEO of Quo Vadis Trust, including having served as a Special Constable in the Metropolitan Police Service, which gave me first-hand experience of hard-to-reach groups and individuals who have fallen through various safety nets.
This life experience has helped me gain an in depth understanding of the effects of homelessness, social, complex mental health issues and dual diagnosis, and along with my current role has enabled me to gain expertise in designing and delivering tailored services for these needs. I am proud to have been part of the innovative remodelling of first core and flexi approach to care and support for mental health services in the London Borough of Lewisham. I have a passion for shaping person-centred services for vulnerable people experiencing barriers to self-fulfilment.
The cost of living is really affecting the supported housing sector through increased utility prices, procurement, contractor costs and increases in landlord rents. The biggest challenge is that we are operating in an uncertain environment and no amount of horizon scanning will fully capture what the future holds. So it is essential that my leadership team and I are able to effectively lead and motivate our charity’s staff and teams, to ensure that they remain engaged and committed to our purpose and that they enjoy work/life blend. I know that if we look after those who serve the business, they will look after the business, and it is our business to effectively look after those who place their wellbeing in our care.
The most rewarding part of being a CEO is the opportunity to shape and influence the direction of Quo Vadis Trust. As the leader I have the ability to set goals, develop strategies, and make decisions that can have a significant impact on the success and growth of the business. Additionally, my role involves working with talented and dedicated individuals, including many talented women, who are all passionate about their work. This is incredibly motivating and inspiring.
Female leadership in social care holds immense value, especially in the context of the current climate. Women have traditionally been the primary caregivers in families, and this experience translates well into the care sector. Female leaders bring a unique perspective and empathetic approach to their roles, which is crucial in a sector focused on providing care and support to vulnerable individuals. Their ability to understand the complex needs of service users and foster nurturing environments contributes to better outcomes and enhance quality of care.
Supporting female leaders in the care sector in the UK and recognising and promoting their value is essential. Female leaders often face unique challenges and barriers in their professional journeys, and it is crucial to create an inclusive and supportive environment that empowers them. By providing mentoring programs, leadership development opportunities, and platforms for networking and collaboration, female leaders can be better equipped to overcome obstacles and maximize their potential. A diverse leadership team that includes strong female representation brings a range of perspectives and ideas, leading to better decision-making and innovation within the organisation.
Female leadership is an invaluable asset in driving positive change and shaping the future of social care in the UK. I hope to inspire and nurture the next generation of female leaders, ensuring a brighter and more diverse future for our organization and the care sector as a whole.