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Pathways: Lily Burley

Can you tell us a little about your career and the path you took to your present role at FoDOCS? 

I did my undergraduate degree in Veterinary Nursing, and after graduating, worked in a veterinary referral and teaching hospital at the Royal Veterinary College. I was responsible for some of the clinical education of the undergraduate veterinary nurses and surgeons, which inspired a passion in me for teaching and learning. From there, I worked in a land-based Further and Higher education college focussing on Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing.

While teaching and course coordinating, I embarked on an MBA part time, which I completed over four years. Once I had gained that, I moved into working for the veterinary regulator, and was responsible for the standards of education of registerable qualifications, as well as the quality assurance of all centres and practices involved in the delivery, which at the time was over 80 sites in the UK. I then moved into heading up the veterinary practice standards department, which over-saw all regulatory and quality compliance for all the practices in the UK, running a team of 30 assessors and admin staff. I worked in that post for three years prior to starting my role of Associate Director of Education at King’s. Coming from a different background brings a fresh perspective on some of the solutions we are working on to increase student satisfaction, which I am excited to be working on.  

What, if any, challenges did you encounter along the way, and how did you navigate them? 

I was never particularly interested in learning at school and found motivating myself through it challenging. It wasn’t until I ‘learned how to learn’ in my late teens/ early twenties, that I really caught the bug for learning and that has stayed with me ever since and shaped my career path.

There have been multiple challenges in my career over the years, from team and organisational politics to volume of what is on my plate at any given time, but each situation has enabled me to learn an adaptability and resilience I am not sure I would have without those experiences. All the challenges obviously required responses nuanced to the situation, however, the common theme I used to get through them was to keep positive, not to panic and to face them head on.

If you could, what advice would you give your younger self at the start of your career? 

You’ll get there, keep going.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Embrace Equity’. What does equity mean to you, and how can everyone (regardless of gender) embrace it? 

To me embracing equity is being mindful of the innate differences we all have in achieving our goals. For instance, my 6ft husband, and my 5ft 2inches self both have equal access to the secret chocolate stash held in the tallest cupboard in the kitchen, away from the locusts- I mean kids- we have, so that is equality. Equity is my (very well used) step- stool that allows me to reach my- I mean our- chocolate stash. Same in life, it’s about continually recognising the different barriers different people face and finding solutions together.