Meet the women of Nuffield Health - Vicky Fitzgerald

In the lead up to International Women’s Day (8th March), we have interviewed some of the inspirational women working at Nuffield Health to discuss the challenges women face today and the women that inspired them. Here we talk to Vicky Fitzgerald, General Manager of Didsbury Fitness and Wellbeing Centre.

Can you tell us about your role at Nuffield Health?

I am General Manager at the Didsbury Fitness and Wellbeing centre. My role is to manage and lead the strategic, operational and service standards within the centre, as well as coach and support the team that work there. Didsbury is a busy centre with members aged between 6 weeks – 93 years! I love being able to manage a facility that can offer something to everyone, regardless of their age or level of fitness; I truly believe health and wellness is not just about physical fitness, emotional wellbeing has such a role to play too.

As a place, Didsbury has a strong community ethos and we have done of lot of work to embed the centre within the local community, so I am particularly proud of the success we have had with the Flagship programmes, like our COVID-19 Rehabilitation Programme. The feedback that we get from our members about how the centre has had an impact on their life makes the job so worthwhile.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I think International Women’s Day is not only a time to celebrate the opportunities that women now have in society as well as the successes of pioneering women but it’s also a time to remember and thank the women who had an impact in shaping our own lives. I am lucky to have so many strong, influential, wonderful women in my life who inspire me on a day to day basis that I feel privileged to call my family, friends and colleagues.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for women today and what has been your biggest challenge?

Since becoming a mother, I have recognised the challenges of having a family whilst balancing my own career aspirations. Do I think you can “have it all”? Is that now an outdated notion? I don’t know…but it’s important for me to try to be the best version of myself, both personally as a positive role model for my son, and also professionally for my team and our members. It’s a continual juggling act! However, at times I can feel like a failure in all areas so it’s important to try to remember not to be so hard on myself and recognise the positives.

I feel lucky to work for an organisation with such a supportive family orientated focus, but I know this isn’t always the case in other organisations. Whilst equality has improved massively within society, there is so much work to do, particularly in work environments. There are still barriers in the way that prevent women from obtaining senior leadership roles and these start from opportunities afforded at a very young age, not just if a woman decides to become a mother. We need to continue to challenge the way we perceive a woman’s role in society for there to be true equality.

The COVID-19 pandemic has really highlighted inequalities within society on so many levels and it worries me that years of progress, particularly when it comes to gender roles within society, could potentially be unravelled.

Which woman has inspired you and why?

I always remember an English teacher I had at school who encouraged me to think differently and ask difficult questions – barriers simply weren’t a thing in her world, there was always a way to overcome them! A-Level English Literature lessons were far from conventional yet yielded excellent results, demonstrating that there isn’t just one way to success.

On a global scale, I am in awe of the work that Michelle Obama has done – she epitomises challenging the status quo. Growing up during a period of racial inequality, she overcame every barrier that was put in the way to achieving an education. Throughout her career, whether that be in law, education or public service, she has been a voice not only for women but also for children. Her work as First Lady highlights the importance of investing in children in the hope that the world can become a better, and more equal, place.

Last updated Tuesday 2 March 2021

First published on Tuesday 2 March 2021