Working her way up from a dental receptionist to Chief Executive of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Tracy has always had a passion for improving health services and connecting personally with people. She helps women to succeed by providing mentoring and coaching and as an active member of the LGBT+ community was awarded the Stonewall Role Model of the Year in 2015.
Winning the Womenspire Award for Leadership was not only one of my highlights of 2019, but one of my career highlights.
When I heard I that I had been nominated by so many colleagues I had worked with and from different organisations too, I felt very humbled; then to be shortlisted as a finalist was great news; and then to go on to win the award on the night was just fantastic, particularly having heard so many inspiring stories from other finalists! I invited my nominators, key members of my team, and my wife to join me for the evening as it was as much about them as it was about me. I was so pleased I won it for them! It was a fantastic feeling and having them there to celebrate our collective success was great.
The awards event itself was a great way to celebrate the various different contributions women across Wales are making and I was delighted that I could meet other finalists to learn more about their work, experiences, causes, and what drives them.
It really was humbling and inspiring in equal measure to listen to and hear about the incredible women on the night and to understand how they are enriching our workplaces and communities. Womenspire is such a strong platform in shining a light on these fabulous women in Wales. It also meant a lot to us all, without exception.
The event itself was like no other. I have attended many award ceremonies over the years and this one stood apart in so many ways. It was classy yet informal and a great example of enabling people to be themselves with such different outfits, excellent street food, and such diversity of entertainment. It felt warm and supportive with a fantastic atmosphere. The weather was great too which helped as it was outside in the wonderful venue of St Fagans.
I have had a varied and rewarding leadership journey starting as a Receptionist at Cardiff Dental Hospital 36 years ago and being lucky to progress all the way through to a CEO, initially at the Welsh Ambulance Service and now at our Health Board in Swansea Bay. I have also had an interesting personal journey – marrying my (now ex) husband and having two children together and now married to my wife Dee, both of whom I met in work!
I have been very fortunate in my career to have been inspired and supported by so many people along the way and to have learned so much from those who have given me opportunities and confidence as they have taught, coached, and mentored me.
This award was also a way of being able to reflect back on my journey, and their investments in me along the way.
When I say it is a privilege to be a public service leader, I genuinely mean it. Working in the NHS is challenging yet rewarding and leading and enabling change that makes things better for our people, patients, and communities is what drives me every single day.
The exposure that winning this type of award gives you helps promote the causes you are working for.
Winning the Womenspire Award helped put my organisation on the map as part of recognising the value we place on leadership and our journey to provide our people – staff and patients – with the best possible experience. I believe it has helped the way my colleagues believe in my commitment to them as their CEO by having this external, national recognition too and it has renewed our energies, passion, and determination to practise compassionate and caring leadership for our people.
I also believe that my Womenspire award recognition went in some way towards my award later on in 2019 from Leading Wales when I won Leadership in the Public Sector category, which again was very humbling.
I am a strong advocate for recognising and celebrating people’s success and efforts and have placed great emphasis on this in every organisation I have ever worked in. We are nothing without our people and, for me as CEO, making sure we take the time to thank them and celebrate them for what they have done is a vital part of creating great staff and patient experience.
When people describe me as ‘inspirational’ I’m always taken aback: to me I’m just ‘Tracy from Tonypandy’ and not doing anything special, but clearly my actions through my leadership has resonated with others enough to nominate me for Womenspire and that in itself is very touching.
I consider myself fortunate to be in a position where I am able to give something back to others too. Wherever I can encourage people to be themselves and the best version of themselves – that is where I will be.
Whenever I see my Womenspire award displayed proudly in my office, it reminds me of how each of us can make a difference by doing what we believe in and of that day in 2019 when I was recognised for doing just that.