One Minute with Pam Swain
ONE MINUTE WITH: Pam Swain, BADN® Chief Exec
What inspired you to get involved with BADN®?
To be honest, I came home to Fleetwood for what was supposed to be a brief stay – but then the job with the Association came up and I’m still here 20 years later! I’d become disillusioned with working for organisations like NATO and big business, and the chance to work with a small voluntary association and actually make a difference was too good to pass up.
What part of your job do you find most challenging?
Dealing with the GDC! Trying to get a definitive answer from them is like trying to knit fog. And the patronising, patriarchal attitude of old school dentists who refer to their staff as “my girls” and refuse to accept that dental nurses are as much registered dental professionals as they are
What part of your job do you find most rewarding?
Meeting dental nurses from all over the country, and abroad.
Where do you live?
In a terraced house in my home town, Fleetwood, with my cat Amber
What do you drive?
A Rover 25 – I’m not into cars, and don’t particularly like driving….. its just a means of getting from A to B – I bought this car from my dad when my Fiesta finally died. I originally had a Belgian driving licence as I passed my test in Brussels (on the fifth attempt!). I also have a Bermudian motorbike licence ….. I never fell off, but managed to set fire to my skirt on more than one occasion…..
What drives you?
The need to demonstrate that life for women no longer has to be limited to “Kinder, Kirche, Kuche” ; when I was growing up in the 70s, “nice Fleetwood girls” were supposed to get a “nice” job in a bank or – if they were “academic” to become a teacher. I defied convention and went off to be an au pair in Vienna, and then worked for several multi-national organisations including Hilton, NATO and the Bank of Bermuda. 35 years on, young women (or young men, for that matter) still aren’t told there is a whole world out there and they can do anything they want to, provided they are willing to put in the effort. That’s the big difference between us and the Yanks – British kids aren’t encouraged to have aspirations.
What’s your favourite food?
I am reliably informed that my taste in music is decidedly uncool! It ranges from 40s Sinatra, 50s and 60s rock n roll through 70s hippy stuff (I’m a big Joplin fan – Janis, not Scott!), stadium rock (love a bit of Springsteen!) – and the last concert I went to was Michael Buble. From the age of 18 until my mid-30s I was living mostly in Europe where the musical choices were headbanging heavy metal or europop – so the whole punk/new romantics etc bit normally associated with people of my generation completely passed me by.
Books are so 20th century, darling – I’ve got a Kindle! I read almost anything and my bed time reading is almost entirely trashy chick-lit. However, I recently read The Help – with Bermudian friends who grew up on both sides of a similar divide, it gave me a better understanding of underlying tensions which still exist.
Favourite holiday destination?
Having grown up at the seaside, I’m not really into beach holidays – I much prefer a city break. But to be honest, my favourite destination is anywhere where I can turn off the Blackberry, zonk out, be pampered and forget all about dentistry for a week!
Whom do you respect/admire/inspires you?
Having lived in six different countries on both sides of the Atlantic, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a number of amazing inspirational people and hope I have learned from them and become a better person myself through knowing them.
On a totally superficial level, when I grow up, I want to be Nigella Lawson……
What really annoys you?
How long have you got?! I’m the original grumpy old woman – car parks and supermarkets are two areas where I get incensed….. people who park right up next to your car so you cant get in the door, or park across two spaces, people who let their kids run riot in the supermarket, or stand in the middle of the aisle chatting – I could go on for ever. Mostly its people who behave with a complete lack of consideration for others.
What keeps you awake at night?
Not much – my conscience is clear!
What makes you happy?
Good friends, good food, good wine…..
What is your best characteristic?
Procrastination. I work better under the pressure of a looming deadline!
Describe yourself in three words
Introspection isn’t really my strong point so I invited suggestions from BADN® Council and other people who know me well. The three words which came up most often were “feisty” (I think that’s polite for stroppy!), “funny” (I’m hoping that’s ha ha, not peculiar) and, apparently, “fearsome” – don’t know why – I’m a pussy cat really!
What do you do to relax?
Meditate. I’m a Silva grad, having completed the basic course whilst in Bermuda, and then the Ultimate Course in Texas with the late Jose Silva himself. (www.silvamethod.com)
If you won the lottery and could give up work tomorrow, would you? And what would you do?
Perhaps not tomorrow – but probably in a few months….. I love my job but there is the moral dilemma – should you continue to occupy a job when so many people desperately need one? And I would go off on the longest cruise I could find…..
If you weren’t BADN® chief exec, what would you have liked to have been?
I spent a year in Boston, MA at the Massage Institute of New England and am an AMTA qualified massage therapist. I’m also a Hay House accredited “Heal Your Life” facilitator and studied polarity, reflexology, cranial facial release and a bunch of other new agey therapies while I was in the States.
What is your motto in life?
Trust in God but still tether your camel