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Professor Dame Sally Davies

“I am visionary and an excellent problem solver” –The first woman to hold the title of Chief Medical Officer for England

ND diagnosis or self-identify as:


Current job title:

Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government.

What does your job involve?

Consultant haematologist (study of blood) in 1985. My research focussed on Sickle cell disease, a blood disorder common in people of African Heritage. I moved into policy in 2004 when I joined the civil service, soon being promoted to Director General of Research and Development for the NHS in the Department of Health. I was then appointed as the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) for the Department of Health (DH) and founded the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). I was a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board 2014–2016.

Degree/apprenticeship or route to current job:

Medicine at Manchester University.

What were your challenges in school?

Teachers thought I was rather dim, which probably motivated me to work harder. I am very bad at remembering names and faces – this is a big problem in my job, because I meet a lot of people which is embarrassing. My team supports me and remind me.

What strategies/assistive technology do you use to help you in your work?

I find that writing things down and taking notes helps me remember, I have a lot of to–do lists. If I think something is important I will act on it straight away, before I forget it – this has served me well as it makes me look super–efficient. I’ve actually got good at skim reading and pulling out the most important information.

What ND skills have allowed you to succeed (or progress) in your STEMM career?

Given that I now know what they are I would say -in every aspect of what I do, I am visionary, I am an excellent problem solver and a strategic innovative thinker and definitely need to be a great communicator. I’ve always worked collaboratively.

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