Robert Music, is the Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the only UK charity dedicated to women, their families and friends affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. From the 21st to the 27th of January it is the Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which aims to raise awareness of the vital role cervical screening and the HPV vaccine plays in preventing and can ultimately see the elimination of Cervical Cancer.
1. Your typical day...
There is not a typical day, I think that is part of the beauty of my job.
For example, today we worked on preparation for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, our biggest week of the year. I also met with the National Audit Office to discuss issues with the screening programme IT. Other days I’m meeting with funders, planning to do TV or radio interviews on TV, meeting with my SMT around strategies or working with my Chair and board of trustees.
I guess that’s the joy and fascination of being a Chief Executive: it’s varying and it’s what keeps me interested.
2. You are responsible for…
I’m responsible for the leadership of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in terms of the reputation of the organisation: we have a very clear strategy in place, and we have to make sure we adhere to it. I’m also responsible for the support and the development of our fantastic team, I report to a Board of Trustees as well, making sure that we are run legally, that we are a good employer and are financially sound. So, it’s a mixture of strategic and administrative matters.
We also want to ensure people externally understand our values and that the team lives by them as well. Our values are very important to us, they’re not just a tick box of words: Passion Respect, Evidence, Collaboration and Challenge. They are things that we live with day by day.
3. How do you feel working in Jo’s Cancer Trust?
I’ve got the best job in the world! I’ve been with Jo’s for ten years, which is quite terrifying in many ways and it was just me when I joined. We have got this fantastic vision that we can make cervical cancer disappear, which is extraordinary and it’s what gets me out of the bed every morning: that one day we potentially do ourselves out of the job and that we can stop people being diagnosed with cancer.
We’ve got an amazing team and I am very lucky to work with brilliant colleagues, who are so focused and passionate about their work and the impact they can have. And externally we have some really great partners, funders, positive relations with the government and other health influencers. I’m very lucky, this is just a job that I love.
4. Your greatest achievement…
It’s hard to say what my greatest achievement is. They are probably different ones, depending on what we are talking about.
Where we are now as a charity compared to when I first joined Jo’s, makes me very proud.
Before I joined we were a cottage industry run from someone’s garage in Northampton. Now, I think we are very much seen as the “go to” cervical cancer charity, who bring a wide range of expertise and knowledge to the table and very much seen as a key partner. And we are only where we are thanks to my team and I am so proud of them.
5. Your greatest challenge…
I think “making our noise the noisiest”. There are so many extraordinary brilliant charities out there and they all undertake truly important pieces of works. The challenge is making sure that we continue to have the greatest influence to help us reach this amazing vision of making cervical cancer disappear, to keep continue growing as we’re doing, and to be able to achieve our strategic goals.
Cervical Cancer incidence is increasing and screening coverage is at an all-time low, so there are many challenges ahead.
If we want to get to the elimination, we have to actually overcome many of the current barriers we face, from access, physical, psychological, knowledge, literacy or cultural.
6. What have you learnt so far?
I think I learnt different things, and have hopefully grown a lot while being at Jo’s in terms of how I manage, lead, and build relationships. I think patience is also extremely important and not expecting overnight wins, especially on health policy. But we are definitely having an influence now.
Building relationships is vitally important, as you have to get on with and influence a wide range of people and organisations, some of whom you will disagree with from time to time: it is about being pragmatic.
You also have to be willing and able to innovate and react to opportunities and of course, making sure you invest in and support good quality staff. There’s nothing better than seeing your colleagues develop and grow.
7. Your plan B…
I really haven’t got a plan B. I’m not even thinking about a plan B. If I was 21 years old my plan B would be to play for Tottenham, but now I’m 55 I don’t think it’s going to happen! So, I can say I don’t have a plan B at the moment, I’m happy where I am.
8. Coffee or Tea?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
9. Your favourite quote…
I don’t think I’ve got a favourite quote. I am not really a quotes person, so I haven’t one that comes to mind: I just do!
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