CEO of the Society of Occupational Medicine: Nick Pahl

nickpahlMSc Public Health alumnus (1998) and CEO of the Society of Occupational Medicine, Nick Pahl told us about his fond memories of studying at the School and his career at Marie Stopes International (MSI).

Nick chose to study for an MSc in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 1997 to academically reflect, enjoy the buzz of a leading institution and develop his career in a UK setting. At the beginning of his studies, he felt a bit intimidated about being a non-doctor, but he told us that he was reassured when he realised that some of the doctors found statistics as challenging as he did.

Studying for a masters at the School helped Nick in a number of ways. “It helped me think strategically and lead with confidence [and] it was critical in helping me move onto senior public health roles within the NHS and in health management generally.” “It was inspiring hanging out with fellow students from around the world, who I can see on Facebook are now in senior positions. I still reflect on what my tutors taught me, such as that no health system financing is perfect.” Nick has fond memories of dying his hair electric blue, to fulfill a wish he did not achieve as a teenager. “Seeing the swivel round of my fellow students when I arrived in the lecture theatre was fun.”

Nick built good relationships with his classmates and academics while studying at the School. “I stayed in contact with students such as Dr Wendy Savage, who is a great campaigner for the NHS. I have called upon the expertise of academics such as Professor Martin Mckee, for advice on some of the global work I have been involved in.”

Nick advises current students to “enjoy the buzz of LSHTM – making friends is as important as studying. I revised by spending days taking buses to any random destination and then working my way back.”

Prior to studying at the School, Nick worked at Marie Stopes International (MSI) for 6 years; he now works as the CEO of the Society of Occupational Medicine. “My job at MSI [not only] gave me exposure to how other health systems worked and didn’t work, but also gave me confidence to lead and see the value of being entrepreneurial for social good. Being thrown in the deep end, I learnt to be flexible, resourceful and resilient; all qualities that helped me gain a CEO role later on in my career”.

His greatest achievement in his career so far has been establishing a Marie Stopes Clinic in Mongolia in 2 weeks. This involved “turning up with $20,000 cash that helped put a deposit on a clinic, and recruiting a team, and a sturdy jeep. The clinic is still going strong.”

Nick hopes to help UK and global workplaces become places that support health, as opposed to the contrary. “The UK workplace has its own challenges of mental health, stress and musculoskeletal issues but the UK has now “exported” many workplace risks and hazards to produce goods for us in factories in resource poor settings.”

Images courtesy of Nick Pahl

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