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Dr Pamela Walker is a strategy consultant in the pharmaceutical sector, a Director and the Global Head of Health at Kin + Carta Advisory, and an Oxford Executive MBA alumna.
Tell us about yourself, your background and your current role/s
I head up the global health business for Kin + Carta Advisory, working with pharma companies, med-tech businesses, and investors. The work I do helps inform investment decisions, supports corporate strategies, and aims to accelerate business performance. A core part of this is to help harness the power that technology and data bring in transforming businesses. Central London is ‘home’ with my son, who is six, my daughter, who is three, and my husband, who works in finance (I’m sure he would prefer that I don’t share his age!). My clients are based all over the world, which is really exciting to tackle challenges across a range of environments and geographies. And my kids love the presents I bring back. I have a doctorate from the Medical Sciences division at the University of Oxford, UK and recently completed the Executive MBA there as well, having been awarded the Forté Foundation Scholarship for Women.
Has your career followed an intended path?
Yes and no… I always knew I wanted to work in the medical sciences; after my PhD I was fascinated by the prospect of consulting, but felt I had to put in the time from a cross functional standpoint to learn about clinical trials, operations, health systems, and marketing, before I could be truly effective. And this is what I have done over the years, until I landed on strategy consulting in 2011. That said, I have never considered myself closed to diversions or new opportunities. It simply seems things have progressed sequentially.
What has helped you in achieving your success along the way?
A strong support network and clear sense of self. My passions are science and art, and the essence of each of these disciplines has shaped me. I work through challenges systematically, searching for solutions, integrating perspectives from those I value deeply, whilst my gut instinct pushes and shoves me towards the finish line. I cannot think of one major success I have achieved on my own, it’s all very much a team effort.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had or been a mentor?
I am involved in the HBA (Health Businesswomen’s Association) mentoring scheme which is an excellent programme. I try to create a non-judgemental safe space for mentees, one that is both supportive and solution oriented. I see a lot of value in working through challenges within the broader context of one’s life, both emotionally and practically. Mentoring informally, as part of my work, is also hugely important to me as I’m keen to help others develop. I have been fortunate to have several brilliant mentors throughout my academic and professional careers. I still lean on the guidance of two. I am so touched they have stuck with me for so long. I am always amazed at how giving people are. And I think it’s because of this that I’m eager to help others on their career journeys, as I have experienced the difference it can make.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
A meaningful life…so far. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of joy. And I’m still learning and growing.
Why did you decide to study an EMBA at Oxford, at this point in your life?
I had just had my daughter; work was going well, and I was looking ahead to the future. I wanted to broaden my business acumen so that my conversations with clients (CEOs, CMOs, CDOs and Investors) could be matched and meaningful. I chose Oxford because it has always been my home away from home. I still had wonderful mentors there, so despite being at a transition point with a new baby, I felt the comfort returning to Oxford afforded me.
Did the experience meet your expectations?
To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. I anticipated it would be different from my undergrad and graduate days (not in the least because I was at a completely different stage of life!!). I was ready to expect the unexpected. As ever, Oxford is magical, illuminating, and feeds the soul. It has its own special atmosphere, which I think is important to be swept up in.
Did any part of the programme change your perspective on the subjects you studied or your future aspirations?
Absolutely. I set out to simply ‘fill in some gaps’ but coming out of the EMBA realised it has had a much broader impact on my day to day. I am enjoying the new lens it has given me across domains, from finance to corporate turnaround to operations management. I have a more focussed and critical perspective on both micro and macro trends driving growth for my clients.
How do you balance work and family life?
With a lot of communication, juggling, and prioritisation. Everything, every day is a choice, not a sacrifice. I am a firm believer in this. I have open and honest conversations with my kids each day. We laugh, read, and sing together. I’m always clear with them where I will be and when I will see them. They are secure because they know that I am true to my word. If I say I will put them to bed, then I will put them to bed. I never tire of telling them how much I love them and I can see they benefit from my child-like excess on that front.
What advice would you give to other female professionals looking to make an impact in their field?
You don’t have to see yourself as ‘different’ because you are a woman. With this comes a whole host of pressures, expectations, and perceived barriers. I believe women and men are equal in the workplace and so, as a personal strategy to move forward with strength and purpose, I have chosen to focus on shared goals. Integrity, consistency, and impressive outcomes are the best ways to make an impact.