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Meet the BPS’s new CEO: Rachel Lambert-Forsyth

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Published: 05 Aug 2020
Category: Your Society
By Rachel Lambert-Forsyth


What a first day

In December 2019, I received the call informing me that I had been successful in my application to join the BPS as its new CEO; cue huge excitement, anticipation, and lots of nerves! Fast forward 3 months to 16 March, my first day in the office. It soon transpired it would also be my last for quite some time, as the COVID-19 pandemic started to hit the UK hard. As I travelled home, my mind full of strategy, new faces, and a head buzzing with new information, I listened to the Government briefing asking everyone, where possible, to work from home. By 9pm that night, the whole team had been informed (in my first major team communication) that we would be shutting the office, effective immediately, and that unless there was an urgent need to return to pick up equipment, the office would remain closed until further notice.

My first 4 months at the helm have been quite different to what I expected back in March. I was looking forward to meeting you, our members, through our exciting calendar of events, working alongside the team at Angel Gate, getting to know them in person, and learning all the favourite haunts in Islington for a post-work social or a brain clearing walk by the canal. Moreover, as a British-based pharmacological society with a global membership, I was excited to fly to various overseas meetings and build relationships and friendships with members and sister organisations across the globe.

A different office environment

Many of these expectations have been met, just in a different way. The now all-too-familiar video conference call has become a daily occurrence and my window into the organisation from the comfort of my home. Like many of you, home is not where I intended to work from either, although there are many benefits, the shorter commute being one of them. My new office colleague is my husband (ensconced on his laptop in another room) and we have two very noisy and demanding co-workers in our primary-aged sons, who have been home since schools closed their doors in March. Like many, I’ve juggled work and home-schooling and spent more quality time with my family.

However, I have managed to meet many of our members through committee meetings, work groups and on our recently launched Community platform, which I hope you have found beneficial. I have learnt from the staff team the BPS’s priorities for this year and got up to speed on how we are doing against our ambitious objectives.

The BPS and a new future

COVID-19 has changed and will continue to change the very fabric of our organisation, but these initial challenges are transforming into opportunities. For example, we will be taking Pharmacology 2020 fully virtual, on a globally accessible platform, with cutting-edge technology, to showcase your science and provide a space for networking, careers support, wellbeing and broader support. I couldn’t be more excited about the plans being put in place by the staff meetings team and Meetings Committee. There is no going back for us: hybrid is the future and 2021 is already shaping up to hold a vibrant calendar of events, both in person and online.

Our members and their COVID-19 work

At this time, our policy work and the provision of trusted and independent advice to the Government has taken centre stage. We hope that in developing our consultation responses and position statments, we recognise and support the contributions of our members in the effort against COVID-19. Many pharmacologists and clinical pharmacologists are playing a direct role – as researchers working to develop treatments, as doctors treating patients, and as experts supporting regulators with approvals processes and clinical guidance.

We are using the COVID-19 hub on our website to signpost to reputable information. We are also sharing educational resources and connecting members to opportunities to help the COVID-19 effort. These decisions have had to be made quickly, with input and guidance from our Management Group, Trustees, Vice Presidents and committee members. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone during this period. My thanks to all of them for making me feel so welcome and working with me to steer the organisation through this period of global change.

Reflections and looking forward

After 4 months, what are my reflections on the BPS? First, that pharmacology and the importance of raising the profile of pharmacology and the role of therapeutics is more relevant now than ever, and that our members and staff are our biggest assets. Second, that adaptation and agility are important characteristics of a thriving organisation, and during this pandemic the BPS has shown itself to have this threaded through its core. The organisation has adapted to the ever-changing situation, securing its relevance now and into the future. Finally, although I never expected these first months to be like this, it has shown me what a brilliant organisation it is, showcasing that grace under pressure, kindness and fun really are part of our strategy.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how we are doing. Please email me or message me through the Community platform. I look forward to meeting you in person at one of our future events.



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Published: 05 Aug 2020
Category: Your Society
By Rachel Lambert-Forsyth

About the author

Rachel Lambert-Forsyth

Rachel Lambert-Forsyth CBiol FRSB is the Chief Executive Officer of the British Pharmacological Society and Managing Director of BPSA Ltd. A marine biology graduate, she spent 11 years at the Royal Society of Biology, holding various positions; her most recent post was Director of Membership and Professional Affairs and Company Secretary for Charles Darwin House Ltd. In 2017, Rachel was appointed to the Department of Education to advise on the content, skills and knowledge required for the healthcare science pathway in its new technical study programmes (T Levels) and she currently sits on the Trustee Board of the Royal College of Nursing Foundation and Science Council. She is mother to two school aged boys and a keen hockey player in her spare time.

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