A perspective on leadership

Published by Evelyn Bourke
Group CEO

05 July 2019 . International

I was delighted to attend The Pipeline’s flagship programme, Top Flight, this week, to speak on the topic of ‘How leadership differs’. It was a fantastic conversation with the 2019 intake of talented female leaders preparing for Executive Committee roles.

Evelyn Bourke at Top Flight

As Group CEO, my role is to set the overall strategic direction for Bupa. I am accountable to the Board and our customers, to ensure there is a clear strategy to deliver our purpose and that the expected performance is delivered.

Every leader has their own approach and key drivers, and through my career I have been fortunate to work with a range of leaders with different styles and approaches who are successful in their own ways. Here is what good leadership means to me.

Firstly, Bupa is a purposeful, customer centric business, so I am focused on customer outcomes first and foremost. It is important to make customer commitments real and to inspire people to deliver on them, thereby realising our purpose of helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

Making the customer commitment real means continuously reminding ourselves that the customer is the reason we exist. Connecting with our people on the frontline and focusing on what makes a real difference for our customers are key. It's not an accident that the customer sits at the heart of our strategic framework.

Secondly, people are key. Bupa is a large, globally dispersed organisation, operating in countries with very different health systems. We want all our people to really care about Bupa’s reputation, and are motivated by delivering for our customers. This means promoting a culture where leaders can lead, inspire and create an open, connected environment in which our people love working at Bupa. We want our people to feel empowered to make a real difference for our customers and feel supported with both their physical and mental wellbeing. It is critical to have a diverse culture, reflecting the diversity of our customers. Bupa must be a place where everyone can be themselves, effectively bringing their whole selves to work. I probably spend 40% of my time in the business ensuring that we have the right people for today and the future.

Board engagement is an essential part of the role. The reality is that today’s world is characterised by increasingly demanding governance responsibilities on Boards, the need for greater transparency and clarity with all stakeholder audiences, ensuring remuneration is appropriate and fair and drives the right behaviours, and greater scrutiny from regulators and governments. This is only right. I must ensure that the Board receives the information and insight it needs to discharge its responsibilities.

Finally, being a health insurance and health service provider comes with challenges, so there is a real agenda around managing risk. This is particularly important in a financial service regulated business.

It was great to have a conversation with such successful and talented female leaders. I am a huge supporter of creating a diverse workplace and seeing more women take leadership roles. This representation ultimately reflects the diversity of our customers. I look forward to seeing their careers take flight!


Evelyn Bourke

Group CEO

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