Tracy Kumar

Head shot of Tracy KumarHead of Operations, Leicester Clinical Trials Unit

What tips would you give to your 14 year old self?

Whatever career path you choose as a school leaver does not determine what path you will eventually pursue.

Tell us a little bit more about your career history.

I started my working life as a registered general nurse. When I started my nursing career the training was vocational with placements in primary and secondary care, at that time degrees in nursing were not common practice. Nursing is a profession in which you learn invaluable work/life skills that are transferable to many other careers. Working in a fast paced, demanding and ever changing environment gave me the strength and motivation to fulfil my potential and further my career development. Thus, I returned to studying and completed my degree as a mature student, this was whilst working full time and raising children. This empowered me and gave me the strength, ambition, determination and drive to apply for more senior and challenging roles. My first research nurse posts were working part time in both renal and stroke medicine, this was hugely challenging as I always like to give 100% to every role I undertake and at times felt as though I was managing two full time jobs. However, I persevered and embraced the challenge until I became a lead research nurse in stroke medicine. My career path within the university started as a trial manager for a multicentre international drug trial, then to a research manager in cardiovascular sciences, cardiac surgery to a senior research manager leading on national projects. I am excited about my new role as an operations manager for the LCTU and look forward to getting to know the team and embracing any challenges ahead.

What advice would you give to other women in the workplace?

From my personal experience there is no set career path regardless of the degree or qualification you have. When I started off as a nurse, I never dreamt of being a senior manager in a university. I strongly believe if you want a different career path and you are willing to work hard and make sacrifices along the way you will succeed. I feel incredibly fortunate to be where I am today. Don’t allow other people’s negative experiences and thoughts influence your decisions. If you want to change direction or career altogether go for it. Stepping outside your comfort zone is fundamental to keep being challenged, meeting new colleagues and embracing change. Being brave will enable you to grow and enhance your self-confidence and make you a stronger, wiser, more resilient person. Reflection is also paramount as we can all learn from this. Consider every career opportunity you can, whether that is being part of a committee, chairing a committee or social event. Put yourself out there and network as much as possible but also try and maintain these relationships. This can be hard work especially for busy working women that have commitments at home and children to look after but this investment in people will be of huge benefit for you and for them. If you get the opportunity shadow colleagues, attend workshops and seminars, take advantage of all learning opportunities you can and take career advice from experienced senior colleagues. Watch and learn from their experience. Being positive is essential and ultimately believe in yourself!

What particular qualities, skills or strengths do you have that makes you good at your role or provides good foundation for success at the workplace?

I have strong interpersonal and communication skills and feel that this is where my strengths lie. These qualities have been key to the success of my role as senior manager and have enabled me to lead effective and cohesive teams. I have a positive outlook and feel that this positivity enhances my ability to motivate others. As a leader I am focused, whilst being empathetic and supportive to my team. Investing in my staff and taking the time to get to know them—what their interests are and what drives them—is hugely important to me and assists me supporting them to achieve their own goals. I value engaging with people for all to benefit, collaborating and working towards the same organisational goals. I pride myself on being fair to my staff, and as a leader it is incredibly important to be objective and impartial at all times in order to maintain a healthy and enjoyable working environment.