Being a member of the BVA officer team - making a difference for the profession, people and animals
Politics and representation are fascinating and being BVA president has been the highlight of my career so far. Being on the officer team is an amazing privilege – it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done, and it’s also the best.
It all began in 2005 when I joined the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons, becoming president in 2012.
The opportunity to be able to give something back is a good feeling. Getting involved is exciting and I’ve been presented with all kinds of opportunities and learned skills that are different from my normal day job.
BVA officer team
As a member of the BVA officer team – I’m currently senior vice- president – I am often away from home, usually in London, two or three days a week (and, if I’m honest, I prefer to be at home). I am also chief veterinary officer (CVO) of Simplyhealth Professionals, which I enjoy and do in a part-time capacity.
The BVA officer team is involved in many things and our roles are all encompassing. Among other things, we attend meetings in Westminster, take media interviews, chair round table events or get involved in commercial meetings.
For me, the best bits are the variety, the people I work with and the feeling that I might be making a difference for the profession, the people in it and the animals.
Although I relish the variety, it’s also a challenge. You have to know your stuff in order to get the best results for our profession. For example, I might be chairing a meeting on workforce issues in the morning, speaking at an event on Brexit in the afternoon and doing media calls on brachycephalic dogs in between.
Gudrun's career so far
I qualified from Liverpool in 2002 and started my career in small animal practice. Until my election to the BVA officer team, there was always a clinical element to my career. I have worked for corporates, independent practices and charity clinics, in industry and in management, and in 2009 I completed a graduate diploma in law.
I never had a career plan and still don’t. As a result, my roles demonstrate what might be termed ‘a portfolio career’, often involving doing at least two jobs at once. Each one has added to my skillset, so that I now have the confidence to stand up and speak, I know what makes me happy (and what doesn’t) and I accept there will be times I will fail, and it won’t be pretty, but in the end it will be okay!
Any new role has to meet certain conditions: it has to be interesting, I have to believe in it and it has to fit in with my family life.
"Being on the officer team is an amazing privilege – it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done, and it’s also the best"
I know I’m privileged – I have a fantastic family, good health and I live in a developed country. I have choices and recognise that most challenges come from something I hadn’t anticipated. Of course, I’ve made poor choices at times, but I’ve worked through them.
Next month, I move on from the BVA. I’m looking forward to carrying on as CVO for Simplyhealth Professionals – other than that, who knows? I’ll be open to ideas from anyone who wants to employ someone who doesn’t want a normal full-time job!
After three years with the officer team it will be time to put my work-life balance first. Family is more important to me than anything, and I also know I work better if I take time to do the stuff I enjoy. My work has to fit around these. This stance may make me unsuitable for some jobs or opportunities, but it also means I wasn’t right for them.
Outside of work, I enjoy endurance sports – running the Cumbrian fells, cycling and lake swimming.
My parents are my biggest inspiration. They are kind, thoughtful people who have achieved a good balance of work with a happy family life, but I’m not sure even they know that if I wasn’t doing what I do now, my dream job would be being a DJ.