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International Women’s Day 2024

Collage L/R - CEO Ruth Brown and Gulnaz, Chair Laura Serrant makes a heart symbol with her hands, Bo smiles at the camera and John smiles.
08 March 2024

International Women’s Day is all about celebrating the amazing women who make Sheffield Children’s a really special place to work! This year’s theme is inspire inclusion and we had a chat with four of our colleagues to hear their thoughts.

Ruth Brown, Chief Executive said: “I am so proud to have worked alongside so many amazing women in my life.  They are all a fabric of my journey and have given me confidence to be the first female CEO of Sheffield Children’s in 150 years. One of my most inspiring relationships at the moment is with Gulnaz at the Fir Vale Community Hub. She is my mentor and inspiration. I love connecting with her and being near the community I lived in with my mum in Burngreave.

“To all children, young people and women everywhere – whatever your hopes and dreams, you can do it!  We must all work together to #inspireinclusion and lift each other up to enable everyone to be the best possible version of themselves without compromise or fear.”

Laura Serrant OBE, Chair said: “As a Trust we are proud to support #IWD2024 with its focus on ‘Inspire Inclusion’. Throughout my 40 years of leadership, equity and diversity have remained central to my personal and professional ethos. Through equity and social justice for all women, we can improve the lives of children and families everywhere.”

Bo Escritt, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion explained: “For me, the International Women’s Day theme – inspiring inclusion – is so important. Women make up 83% of our workforce at Sheffield Children’s. It means creating an environment where all women from all backgrounds and intersectionalities including race, social orientation, disability, belief, carers, social economic status, and age all feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents. It’s about celebrating diversity in all its forms and ensuring that we all feel that we are included and feel that we belong here.

“At Sheffield Children’s, inspiring inclusion means creating a healthcare environment where every patient and colleague feels welcomed and respected. Inspiring inclusion starts with us as individuals – it is how each of us recognises and celebrates what makes us unique and amazing!

“It is about striving to actively promote equity and fairness in our workforce by fostering a culture of collaboration, kindness, compassion and mutual respect among colleagues.

“Inclusion at Sheffield Children’s is about having a sense of belonging, where diversity is celebrated, and where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and bring their whole selves to work.

John Williams, Chief Finance Officer and Deputy Chief Executive added: “I have the privilege of working alongside so many incredible female leaders at Sheffield Children’s, from different backgrounds and cultures. These colleagues bring diversity of thought, lived experience and are role models for future talent, striving every day to provide a healthier future for children and young people.”

We have so many women who inspire us every day at Sheffield Children’s in roles all across our Trust! We took the opportunity to chat with our colleagues Charlotte and Shreya, as well as Jessica Ennis-Hill, patron for The Children’s Hospital Charity.
Charlotte Elder

Charlotte is sat at a desk turned towards the camera.What role do you have at Sheffield Children’s? 

I’m a Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist and a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Sheffield, a role which encompasses the research work I do. My research is about improving screening and diagnostic testing for adrenal insufficiency in children. 


What training was involved to be in your role? 

I fell into research; I was in the midst of GP training when I decided I wanted to be a Paediatric Endocrinologist and at the time it was very competitive and you needed a PhD to be in with a chance of training in tertiary paediatric endocrinology. I came out of my medical training to do a PhD. After it was completed, I went back into medical training, and got a NIHR Academic Clinical Lectureship which allowed me to do my clinical training alongside my research. About six years ago I got my consultant job and was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to carry on researching as a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Sheffield alongside.


I’m an ideas person and I enjoy working in teams. I am motivated by the idea of improvement, anything which can improve patient care or evolve our systems to make them better, which I suppose is quite a research mindset. Once I started, I was hooked. I’ve been really lucky to have fantastic support from colleagues, the University of Sheffield and The Children’s Hospital Charity to enable me to do this work; any success we have had is very much due to a great team… and of course a good dose of luck!


What do you like about working at Sheffield Children’s? 

I’ve been working in the research realm since 2008 and I’ve seen huge changes – we’ve got some really good people in the research department. The support that they can offer is great. Doing research involves a whole team of people and as the research and Innovation team has expanded over time, they’ve been able to provide even more expertise and support. I enjoy the idea that Sheffield Children’s is on the journey to improve and champion research. Sheffield Children’s Research and Innovation department are always up for learning, if they don’t have the knowledge or experience then they are open to learning from others to keep on improving.  


What do you enjoy doing outside of work? 

I enjoy running in the Peak District although when I say running, it’s more of a middle-aged plod. I’ve also got two teenagers, so they keep me pretty busy, and I love seeing them grow up and spending time with them, they’re great at getting me away from work. I’m married to a very good cook, so one of life’s pleasures is eating great home cooking!


As it’s International Women’s Day, is there anything you’d like to say to women thinking about pursuing a career like yours? 

I think many women suffer from a chronic lack of self-belief and I think that medicine and research need women spearheading these areas. Women need to believe in themselves and what they can deliver. Try and identify female role models who successfully juggle clinical work, research and perhaps caring responsibilities or other outside interests. These things are difficult to balance and there has to be sacrifices but they shouldn’t stop you trying out research and seeing if it is something you enjoy. I would encourage anybody to try dipping their toe into research and see what happens, it might not be for you but until you try, you won’t know.  

Jessica Ennis-Hill

Jessica Ennis-Hill sits in an orange window box on a ward.Jess, Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion heptathlete has been a patron of The Children’s Hospital Charity since 2006 and through her dedicated support has helped to raise thousands of pounds for Sheffield Children’s. As a long-time supporter of the Charity, Jess has visited different sites many times over the years to spend time with patients.

Last month, Jess’ amazing work was honoured at the MOBO Awards with the Paving the Way Award. This award celebrates individuals in any field who are creating a path for others to follow. It recognises exceptionally talented people who are trailblazers in their field and paving the way for future generations of talent.

A commemorative paving stone has been laid to mark Jess’ achievement. The stone has been engraved with her words “the only one who can tell you you can’t win is you and you don’t have to listen.” She unveiled it with MOBO founder Kanya King CBE, at the entrance to the English Institute of Sport, on the grounds of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.

Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park will be the home of the National Centre for Child Health Technology (NCCHT) which will be operated by Sheffield Children’s. The Charity is currently running an appeal to provide £2 million towards this project.

Jess is an icon of this city and has used her platform to help the next generation of athletes follow in her footsteps.

Jess said: “I know how important it is to see other women following their dreams and pushing boundaries. In my role at the Charity, I try to dream big in how I can support them. Whether that’s on my visits when I’m talking to patients, or in the way I help to fundraise, I hope that I can continue to help the Charity to raise vital funds for Sheffield Children’s.”

The Charity is so grateful for all the support Jess has shown over the years. Congratulations on the recognition Jess, you are brilliant!

Shreya Srinivas

Shreya smiles at the camera infront of a green background.What role do you have at Sheffield Children’s?
I am a Consultant Spinal Surgeon working with both children and adults across Sheffield Children’s and the Northern General Hospital. My role mainly involves treating children with spinal deformities such as Scoliosis or related conditions and adults who have injuries to their spines due to trauma or conditions that affect the spine. I sometimes get to see some of the children we treated at Sheffield Children’s as they continue to receive care once they’ve become an adult.

What training was involved to be in your role?
My medical journey began in South India where I trained and qualified as a doctor before moving to the UK to pursue surgical training. I was a junior doctor in hospitals around South Wales and Bristol, then once I passed my initial surgical exams, I joined the Orthopaedic specialist training program. I knew at this point that I wanted to specialise in Spinal surgery, so I continued training in Vancouver, Canada and later at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Having completed my fellowship training I then began looking for a role which allowed me to work with both children and adults and in 2020 this role became available.

Why do you work as a surgeon?
I love working with children, they are honest and show great resilience; it always amazes me as to how brave some of them can be. I also enjoy the technical challenges of my surgical field and when things go well, it can be very satisfying.

What do you like about working at Sheffield Children’s?
Sheffield Children’s is known for the excellent care they provide for children both nationally and internationally and I feel very lucky to be apart of the team that provides that care. I felt very welcomed from the beginning and I have been very well supported especially as a newcomer during the pandemic. Everyone looks out for each other and we all understand the importance of working as a team.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy reading about food, talking about food, trying out new food and cooking food! I also enjoy being outdoors and it has been a delight to explore all the green spaces around Sheffield (with dog, child, and husband in tow).

As it’s International Women’s Day is there anything you’d like to say to women thinking about pursuing a career like yours?
An increasing number of girls are joining medical school but not as many think of exploring Orthopaedics or spinal surgery as a career choice. The training years are hard but there is increasing support and more understanding of work/life conflicts. You get to meet and work with some amazing people and it’s very gratifying when you help children (and adults) walk and move better.

It’s also a very exciting time for innovation as there is new technology (navigation, VR, robotics) making its way into surgical practice, that will hopefully improve patient and surgeon experiences. I would encourage girls to think beyond stereotypes (Sheffield already has seven orthopaedic female consultants, more than five in training and many of them are mums too) and know that being an orthopaedic (and spinal) surgeon can be a very rewarding career choice!

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