#IWD: Kerry and Bryony’s career journey

06 March 2019 . United Kingdom

To mark International Women’s Day on Friday (8) and National Careers Week, we’re sharing career stories and advice from women in various roles across Bupa. From IT to mental health to care services, read their career journey, who inspires them and what advice they would offer other women. Here, we speak to Kerry John, Regional Director, Bupa UK Care Services, and her daughter Bryony John, a Bupa UK Resident Experience Manager.
Kerry and Bryony John

Kerry John

Can you tell us a little about your career journey?

I was placed by the careers advisor at school in a Care Assistant role at the age of 16 and the minute I got there, I knew I loved it. I applied for nurse training, I was desperate to do it, but you couldn’t start until you were 18. So, between the age of 17-19, I studied orthopaedics and then I became a registered nurse. At the age of 23, I was the youngest ward sister at an Essex hospital. At that time nurse training was on the job so, you lived onsite in nurses’ accommodation, and it was the best experience. I then applied for a job in central London at St Thomas’ Hospital as a Trauma Manager – my interview panel consisted of 11 people and I was the first ward sister to be employed externally.

Throughout this, I was balancing being a single mum. I’d travel a five-hour round trip every day to get to the hospital and then do a 10-hour shift. My daughter was in the hospital crèche from the age of 12 weeks old until she was four years old. I worked every Christmas day until she was 11. It’s made her into the adaptable, independent young woman that I am proud she is today. When my daughter was due to go to primary school I knew we couldn’t do that journey so we moved out to Kent and I saw a job advertised for a home manager at Bupa, which was just six minutes’ drive from our home.

It might seem like quite a different role, but on the face of it, there is lots in common. I’ve always done things throughout my life that have tied in with my home life and that’s what makes my work life, work! When I knew my daughter was settled, I went for the Regional Support Manager job and when she was in senior school, I went for the Regional Director job.

You’ve been at Bupa for 20 years, what changes have you seen in that time?

The care profession has always been quite female dominated in the past, but it was the women who were hands on and the men who were in the management positions. Whereas, nowadays we have women in more senior positions, for example, we have Evelyn as our CEO.

What are you most proud of?

I’ve worked my way up from Care Assistant to Regional Director, as a single mum and I’m proud of the relationship I have with my daughter. In my job, I’m proud of the difference we make. I always tell my team that you cannot underestimate the difference you make to residents’ lives.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to women thinking about their careers?

Never believe you can’t do something, there’s always a way, even if it’s a modified version of what you want to do.

Who is your inspiration?

My great grandmother, she was the mafiosa of our big Irish family. She was one of 21 children – five sets of twins. 101 years old when she died and always made the best out of every situation.

Bryony John

Can you tell us a little about your career journey?

Being in a care environment became like home to me. I started working with Bupa at Meadbank, a big 176-bed home in Battersea as an admin assistant. I was there for two and a half years and then moved to a financial admin role at Broad Oak, a 40-bed home in Kent. I spent nine months there but missed working in a bigger home so moved to Sidcup where I took on various roles. I made the most of the opportunities there – the home manager and deputy manager left within a short space of each other, so I took on a lot of extra work and this resulted in me stepping up to interim deputy manager and eventually I took the role on a permanent basis.

Watching my mum start as Care Assistant and work her way up fairly quickly has given me my whole work ethic and taught me how to conduct myself at work. There is a lot of room for growth at Bupa, so you can climb up the ladder as quickly as you want to. I’m proud of the fact that at 25 years old, I have worked for Bupa for seven years.

Who is your inspiration?

My mum. She was my boss for a while when I was at Meadbank. My mum has worked at every level, so she understands and knows what it’s like on the ground and is fair.