We spoke to Kelly Lockwood, ICE Domain Lead at CliniSys to discuss technical leadership, being raised without restrictions and handling imposter syndrome.
Kelly’s story is part of a series of articles highlighting the careers of female tech leaders within Healthcare. We’ve brought together these stories in an effort to prove that the route to leadership is never a straight line.
Kelly left school without direction. Having recently finished her A-Levels, she joined a laboratory as a medical laboratory assistant. Enjoying this position, Kelly would spend a few years getting laboratory experience which would later prove critical to her career development before starting a Biomedical Sciences Degree.
“This route meant It took me longer to get into that position, but I had experience graduates didn’t.”
After finishing her degree, Kelly would make the move to working in different hospitals from tertiary referral centres to teaching hospitals. As she experienced the spectrum of what a career in healthcare has to offer, Kelly started to gravitate towards LIMS systems. This culminated in leading work on a laboratory system that was received incredibly well with other sites wanting the same.
This led to the start of Kelly’s relationship with CliniSys. Her first position at the company was a Product Specialist. In this role, Kelly would work with Hospitals to understand their workflows and try to mould that with the product CliniSys provided by using her WinPath knowledge and experience.
After that, Kelly got the opportunity to help shape the future of the WinPath system going forward with the Blood Sciences Domain Lead post.
“We deploy something called the master build, which is where we take the best practices from our experience and understanding of the best way of working with WinPath and we build a baseline system which we take to new customers – we then tailor it to them from there.”
After that, a Solution Manager role came up that Kelly was motivated to go for. In what was a very technical role, Kelly would work with the trusts to embed the entire package of what Clinisys offered. This role required incredible domain knowledge.
From there, Kelly moved into her current role which presents a massive challenge and opportunity for Kelly who has the luxury of an amazing team around her.
The ICE team, which implements new systems for clients by understanding their requirements, is on the leading edge of healthtech.
“I have a very experienced ICE team that have been pivotal in a number of deliveries in lots of different ways. There are lots of times I rely on them for technical support because they know that I know I don’t know everything. We’re focused on growing together and building products and systems we’re proud of”
Kelly, whose career has taken many twists and turns, is the first to admit that she’s had her fair share of frustrations but also that she’s been somewhat fortunate with the relationships she’s built.
“I totally admit that there has been a case of right place, right time, right people in my career but you can only go so far on luck.”
Capitalising on the opportunities she’s had, Kelly has entered into each position strongly despite any existing relationship. This, she believes, is key to success in technical roles.
“I think you have to go in strongly to any environment and I think you need to know your subject and have the confidence in your knowledge to really go for it as opposed to just saying: ‘I’ll get through this’.”
A topic that we cover heavily on this series is role models and mentors. Although many of the individuals we talk to highlight mentors throughout their career, we very rarely look at influence outside of the workplace.
Kelly, who went to an all-girls school that broke free of traditional gender binaries, has been raised without restrictions.
“We didn’t conform. We played rugby, did woodwork and computer studies. Of course, we had homemaking – nobody starved but it was never the focus. I don’t think any of us left with any preconceived notion of what we can and can’t do.”
This mentality carried through into Kelly’s career where she continues to surround herself with a network that uplifts one and other.
“I’ve had a lot of strong female role models and, at CliniSys, we promote people to do what they’re good at. At a domain lead level, we’re 50% female now. One of our previous CEOs is female as well and I think that has had a huge impact on all of our mentalities here.”
Over the course of this series, we’ve interviewed many technical leaders. This has given me the chance to understand the vox populi on what it takes to be a technical leader – specifically, what level of technical knowledge you need to truly get the job done.
Echoing the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of leaders I’ve spoken to, Kelly believes technical leadership is about knowing your own limitations and then building a team that can fill the gaps.
“I was always brought up to know that you can’t know everything. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and, for a leader, one of your strengths should be knowing what everyone else's are.”
Building a culture that encourages people to step forward when they have a problem they can’t solve alone isn’t easy, but it’s one of Kelly’s main priorities as she looks to pioneer the ICE product. It’s here that she is trying to find the balance.
“If you don’t know – ask. We all learn together. But we can’t live in total democracy, my team knows what I expect from them and I know what they expect from me.”
Now working towards one of CliniSys’ biggest projects, Kelly is on the leading edge of Healthtech. Kelly’s journey, which has been filled with learnings and frustrations, has prepared her for the responsibility she now has driving change for Clinisys.
For those at the start of their career, Kelly has this advice:
“Believe in yourself. If you’re in a role with some decision making responsibility, you’re not there by accident. You’re there because you’re good at what you do. Trust yourself and don’t be afraid of change.”
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