Friday, 10 July 2009

Annual staff conference

Had a really fabulous day on Wednesday which was our annual staff conference. It gives me a great opportunity to talk and work with people I don’t get to deal with. This sounds daft as we have an open plan office with only three private offices, including mine, which are all glass. So I can see everything and everyone but it isn’t the same - I know, I should get out of my office more.

We had a really stimulating presentation on the research that we support. It was so interesting looking at some of the achievements of our research over the past year, but also looking forward to some very exciting work which we will be launching in the next few months and we heard directly from one of the scientists involved in the project – watch this space.

We always have a slot to hear first hand from someone who has personal experience of breast cancer, which brings everyone back to earth about the real problems women face. This year we were very privileged to have our patron, Jenni Murray, talk quite frankly and sometimes a little shockingly about her own experience. Those of you who listen to Woman’s Hour and have read Jenni’s books or the various articles she has written about her own breast cancer experience, will be familiar with her experience over the past few years.

I was so pleased to hear her say that she detests the gladiatorial language that so many in the media use – “fighting” breast cancer “losing the battle” with breast cancer. As she so eloquently said – “if you die, did you not fight hard enough?” She also highlighted how many women, when diagnosed, ask what they did wrong for this to happen (apparently men don’t). The answer is – it isn’t a battle it’s a disease: you didn’t do anything wrong – it is a disease not a punishment! Rock on Jenni.

My role is to talk about the big picture – the finances, the strategy, operational performance, outcome of the staff survey (98% enjoy working for Campaign and the same percentage are proud to work for Campaign – me too!) and other important things. I do try and lighten the load a little with my own “very very serious” staff questionnaire. Some examples:

  • Most unusual pet?
    Five snakes (one python, four corns), a bearded dragon and Tiggy the Tegu – all owned by one person.
  • Chips, mash or roast?
    Roast – 45%; Chips – 39% and Mash – 16% and one indecisive individual who would like all three – preferably at the same time.
  • Who would you most like to sit next to on a long plane journey?
    An empty seat in first class. If only….

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