Michelle Vickers, CEO of Head & Neck Cancer Foundation
Devoted to driving awareness for – and the adoption of – ground-breaking head and neck cancer treatment
When it comes to how I conduct myself in business – no matter where I’ve worked or what level of responsibility I’ve had – it’s always been with empathy, respect, equality and kindness.
Maybe it’s because I was often the new child at school… we moved a couple of times and I eventually left with just a few O-Levels; perhaps it’s having been on the receiving end of prejudice in the workplace – chiefly sexism and racism. All I do know is that I decided long ago that I wanted to work within a team setting whose morals and ethics were in line with my own.
Before I got to that place – my dream job, where every day feels like I’m flying – I did enjoy a rich and varied career. I discovered early on I had a flair with people; it didn’t matter I hadn’t been to university, and no amount of intolerance or unkindness would hold me back. All I ever wanted to do was support my colleagues – and they saw the potential in me before I did! From great roles with Sport England, where I was actively involved in the 2012 Olympics, to being the lead at a dog rescue charity, having responsibility for others and leaving a legacy of good behaviours behind was enough. As I entered my fifties however, I wanted to find something that gave me more freedom and flexibility: working from home; spending more time with my husband and children; walking the dogs; continuing to act as a trustee for my local Women’s Aid…
When I landed the CEO role with the Head & Neck Cancer Foundation in 2017, I’d found what I was looking for. It ticked every conceivable box I could think of from a work-life perspective, as well as being a perfect match culturally.
I’m in awe of what the Foundation does and the ground-breaking research we have undertaken into the treatment of head and neck cancers. Raising funds so that all UK cancer centres can, one day, use the technology our charity’s incredible founders have pioneered in order to minimise invasive surgeries – Sentinel Node Biopsy – is massively rewarding, as is raising awareness of the rise in oral cancers.