Our latest MBA Tuesday Club was delivered to us by guest speaker and MBA alumna Dr Victoria Harmer. As Victoria is a highly successful Clinical Nurse Specialist for breast care, it was no surprise that filled up quickly for this not-to-be-missed presentation. Speaking about the sensitive topic of cancer care, Victoria’s speech was both enlightening and inspiring and it was also great to hear more of her impressive career journey post MBA.

Dr Victoria Harmer, cancer care and the Westminster MBA

Just to share with you some of Victoria’s background, her clinic is based at Charing Cross where she manages a team of nine Nurse Specialists. Victoria is a key contact for people diagnosed with breast cancer and supports patients and their family throughout their treatment. During her presentation, I felt such an enthusiasm and passion radiating from Victoria that it came as no surprise that she was named Cancer Nurse of the Year 2013, thanks to her patients who nominated her for the excellent standard of care and support she provided throughout their cancer diagnoses and treatment. 

Director of the MBA Dr Kellie Vincent introduces Dr Victoria Harmer

What you may be interested to know is that Victoria does not stop there! I was amazed by a number of other projects she has been engaging with, something which she said has been thanks to her Westminster MBA. For those of you who are interested in joining the programme, you may want to hear that Victoria explained how the degree has opened up new avenues for her, providing her with new skills that are enabling her constant career progression. Out of her most vivid memories from her time as MBA student, Victoria remembers being constantly pushed and encouraged to explore new opportunities. She definitely described it as ‘blood, sweat and tears’ but this was what triggered her ambition to constantly demand more. She grabbed opportunities previously unconsidered and took initiative by starting a breast cancer support group, frequently speaking at events, attending school visits and organising charity days to raise money for the hospital. But if all of the above was not enough, Victoria set herself a goal of spreading breast cancer awareness in her community and worked hard to reach out to local businesses to engage them in her work. As a result, she delivered a number of speeches for Harrods employees and worked with Marks & Spencer on their swimwear design for the post-mastectomy body. All of these were done in her free time, which made me wonder – when did Victoria find time to sleep?

But all the effort and hard work has paid off, and I was most excited to hear that through her constant search for more, Victoria managed to raise breast cancer awareness among a much wider audience, reaching people all around the country! How does she do this? By using her specialist knowledge to act as a storyline consultant to radio, television and film in reference to storylines around the issue of breast cancer. She has been working on how to tackle the difficult topic of breast cancer sensitively and accurately and has consulted on scripts for The Archers, Family Affairs, Coronation Street, EastEnders, Miss You Already (2015) and for the newly released movie Criminal starring Kevin Costner. 

Networking at the MBA Tuesday Club

Hearing all of the above, made me realise the important role that TV soap operas and movies play when tackling serious illnesses like cancer. In fact, Victoria admitted that doctors reported a huge boost in women getting in touch about breast cancer screenings when Coronation Street character Sally Webster and EastEnders character, Carol Jackson were diagnosed with it.

To end the session, Victoria shared with us her golden advice to succeed – be tenacious and constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone! No matter how successful you are in your chosen field, never settle but set new goals and look for other ways to constantly grow and evolve.  And we all know that it certainly takes a lot of strength and courage and requires sacrificing most of your precious time. Based on this evening though, it seems to me like it is some sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy – the more you do, the more you are given. I must say that throughout her successful career Victoria has achieved great things, all thanks to her passion and dedication, which brings an old saying to my mind ‘when nothing is certain, anything is possible.’

Thank you to Postgraduate Applicant Officer, Katarzyna Kicinska for this new blog! To find out more about the MBA Tuesday Club please take a look here.

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