We spoke to Kate Warriner, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Trust and Liverpool Heart and Chest to discuss the importance of taking risks, important skills for digital leadership and tackling imposter syndrome.
Kate’s story is part of a series of articles highlighting the careers of female tech leaders within the NHS. We’ve brought together these stories in an effort to prove that the route to leadership is never a straight line.
A musician by education, Kate’s first experience in healthcare came as a summer role as a Ward Clerk. Despite only being a brief interlude from her time studying and practicing music, this role at the hospital proved to be telling for Kate who fell in love with the vibe.
After graduating, this love for the NHS would put Kate in pole position for an IT Trainer position within the NHS.
“This was one of my favourite jobs because I got to talk with and help so many different people.”
After doing a master’s in health informatics Kate moved on to project management roles before finding her feet in more senior positions like Deputy Director of Shared Informatics Services. From there Kate found her way back to Royal Liverpool where she was a Programme Director on the Global Digital Exemplar Programme.
Now Kate is working on driving digital transformation at Alder Hey and Liverpool Heart and Chest where she takes up a joint executive & board role across both organisations.
Kate, who has taken a fair few risks to put herself into the position she is in today, believes passion for doing right by patients has carried past the challenges.
“It’s all about what we can do for the patient. That has always been my focus, from the early operational roles to now.”
With a family of healthcare workers, Kate knows all about the challenges that frontline healthcare workers face.
“My Mum’s a nurse and my Auntie’s a nurse who are both quite motivated about improving life for healthcare workers.”
With a clear understanding of the everyday challenges healthcare workers face, Kate drives digital transformation with an eye towards its impact at the very basic level of healthcare.
For Kate, who has experience work at different levels within the NHS, one of the most important skills a tech leader in the NHS can have is the ability to clearly distil technical jargon into meaningful discussion regardless of technical experience.
“Our role is to implement change, and to get back to brilliant basics and to do that in a way that’s meaningful for people. It’s being able to speak the language of the Doctor, the nurse and the board member and understand their drivers.”
Tempering these keen communication skills, Kate also believes an NHS tech leader should lead with passion – not just for technologies transformative powers but also for the culture of the NHS.
“if you’re passionate and you’re motivated, and you’re enthusiastic, people are more likely to support and want to do a really good job.”
Taking a somewhat untraditional route into the NHS, Kate studied Music at university. An accomplished musician and now a leader within the NHS, Kate has experienced a certain level of imposter syndrome in both positions.
“We did a concert with our youth orchestra in the Liverpool Philharmonic and I was asked to do a solo. And I’m thinking, Oh, my goodness this is one of the most terrifying things ever. Now I’m observing some of the best surgeons in the world do groundbreaking surgery and working on computer systems for them. Everyone gets imposter syndrome.”
For Kate, it’s less about tackling the feelings that come along with imposter syndrome and more about understanding them. Only when you come to terms with where your comfort zones lie will you be able to push through them.
“I think the key is how you manage it. Ask yourself if you’re honest about it because you’re Only Human.”
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