Meet Katherine…

10th December 2020

Welcome Katherine, we are delighted that you have joined the team. Can you tell us a little about your background?

I studied and graduated in Leicester and – like many new graduates – didn’t really have a career plan or know what I wanted to do, or actually what I was equipped to do as a career. My first graduate job was with the Boots Group in retail management (DIY). Retail was not my calling and my career since then has been wide ranging. Somebody said I should describe it as a ‘portfolio career’ and it sounds so much better than ‘Jack of all trades’ (which is how I usually describe myself). It has encompassed different types of roles – strategic and operational roles – working in and with organisations, both large and small, across private, public, academic and health sectors: from recruitment to economic policy and strategy (covering topics from skills, and life sciences to ports policy and Local Authority funding formulae) and I’ve run my own business, too. I suppose this has enabled me to understand how it all fits together, how it works and translate what that means in different settings. This has given me the ability to identify opportunities and make things happen, for the benefit of the region.

What are you most looking forward to now that you’re a member of #TeamAHSNNENC? 

Anybody who knows me, knows how passionate I am about the region and the health and life sciences sector and its potential to really grow and thrive. I’m really looking forward to adding some value to the AHSN NENC, applying my knowledge and experience to help position the AHSN NENC to maximise the opportunities which lie ahead. As an organisation, the AHSN NENC and its remit has grown. The time is right, from an economic and health policy perspective, for the North East and North Cumbria to really come together and harness the opportunities ahead. Across all the stakeholders, we have a common goal; to reduce health inequalities and support the economic growth of the region. It is a win-win situation…and that’s what I’m looking forward to. It’s helping to achieve this common goal. As a ‘trusted broker’, the AHSN NENC has a unique and significant role to play in helping to make this happen.

Thinking about those new opportunities and that ‘trusted broker’ role, what does innovation look like as the organisation continues to grow?

If you did a Google search on innovation, you would get thousands of different definitions!

In its simplest form, I think of innovation as problem solving, coming up with new (or improved versions of current) products, services and processes that offer an advantage over what already exists. Innovation is the opportunity.

In a health setting, these improvements can be early diagnosis, improved treatment, improved care systems, better patient outcomes. These innovations create economic opportunity – from a healthier workforce to new business opportunities – and it’s driven by our health innovation ecosystem: the expertise, reputation and assets and the spirit of collaboration we have here in the North East and North Cumbria. Exciting times ahead!


How have you found starting a new role during a global pandemic? Do you have any advice for people starting new jobs during this challenging time?

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little strange, in so far as instead of going in to the office on day 1 and being shown to my workstation, and meeting everyone in person, I had my IT equipment delivered to my house and had my induction meetings via Teams rather than face-to-face.

For me, the main difference has been a different IT system/ infrastructure, you can’t just ask the person next to you where a folder is, or how you do something. But it’s not a problem, I’ve got our System Manager’s mobile number on speed dial 😊 [thanks, Andy]!

If I had any advice to give someone starting a new job in lockdown, it would be don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t just fumble along and make sure you’ve got people’s phone numbers saved in your phone! 😉

I’m looking forward to meeting the team in person… some day!


Thank you, Katherine, it has been great to find out more about you. Final questions…

  1. Favourite ‘Quality Street’ Tricky! It’s a toss-up between the coconut éclair (is that even what it’s called?), the fudge or the toffee finger…I’m going to have to go for the toffee finger.
  2. What was your first job? I shared a paper round with my brother, but my first ‘proper’ job was a Saturday job at Sammy’s newsagents when I was 13, and I remember I had to beg my mum to let me do it. I loved it…working on the till, serving customers, restocking shelves. Such fond memories, even if I was only paid 80p an hour! (Yes, there was no minimum wage then).

You can read our previous two ‘meet the team’ blogs from Chris and Adele by following the links below:

Introducing the newest members of the team

Meet Adele