Lesley Shilstone
Assistant General Manager for Women's Services

Show transcript


Joel? ILM, what does it stand for? [laugh] I can’t remember and I used to work in training!

My name is Lesley Shilstone, I’m the Assistant General Manager in Women Services at Guy’s and St Thomas’s. My role involves a whole heat of things, from managing staff, managing finances and a budget of nearly £40 million, and ensuring that we provide sufficient admin support services to clinical staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’s in the maternity department.

Each year we have nearly 7,000 women that have deliveries here at Guy’s and St Thomas’s, and a few more babies because some of them will have twins and some of them will have triplets, so about 7,000.

My role is definitely not sitting behind a desk all day. People think managers sit in offices behind desks – we don’t - in fact I’m probably only at my desk for maximum an hour a day. A lot of it is operational, running around the department, or going to meetings etc., to meet different people. And I think that’s probably why I like it; some of it is fire-fighting, some of it is solving issues as they arise, but some of it is more about long-term strategic planning, which is where we are trying to go as an organization, so we’re not fire-fighting all the time.

As with a large number of admin staff, I’ve been working at the organization for a long time. I started off as a clinic clerk receptionist. I quickly at that point loved: 1 – the organization, but 2 – looking after the patients as they came through. I never wanted to be a nurse or a doctor. I’m not very good with blood, so that was for me a great alternative: working in a hospital but in a non-clinical role.

No I don’t do blood at all – in fact, a lady didn’t get into the department when she decided to deliver. She delivered outside my office door, which used to be on this floor. Luckily there was a midwife with her, and I just shut the door! Because I can’t – no, no…

There is no point in coming into an organization like this if you don’t enjoy working in an organization like this. And it is so important that you enjoy the job, because that then gives you the values inside, if you don’t enjoy the job, you don’t have the values of the organization.

When you’re interviewing, just be yourself that’s what people want to see, don’t worry too much about the answers, particularly if you got no experience, be yourself and sell yourself. You’re not necessarily going to see that person again so if you say anything absolutely mad, it’s not a problem, but sell yourself, be committed, and enjoy the job, if you’re not enjoying the job, don’t do it because there is no point, you’re not going to give your full 100% to that job.

I would love to be a footballer for West Ham United. I don’t think I’ll ever do that. If I could go back to doing one job that I enjoyed the most, I would love to go back in Oncology. Being a receptionist I had 3 clinics, I knew every single patient by their first name and often their partners as well, and it is the most enjoyable time, making sure that they were looked after in the right way, so if I could go back to any job, it would be being a receptionist in the Oncology department. I didn’t have a career plan, and as I’ve moved up, I’ve had to tailor my career to get to where I want to be, which is the role that I’m in now.

A few words from Lesley ...

I'm the Assistant General Manager for Women’s Services. As an operational manager, I'm responsible for the income, finances and running of the admin services for the directorate. I'm directly responsible for nearly 50 non-clinical staff across a number of services. The directorate currently receives a budget of £35 million, and I have to decide how and where it is spent across our services.

Exciting aspects of Lesley's job

I find it exciting to find new ways of generating income for Women’s Services, by making our systems more efficient. For example, by reviewing how we record the patient treatment we’re delivering, we've generated an additional £250,000 a year.

Working with patients to improve our services is incredibly rewarding. We have a patient liaison committee that informs the shape of our future service.

I enjoy meeting new people everyday, particularly alongside clinical staff. I'm seldom in my office and no day is ever the same.


My biggest challenge is making sure we continue to provide an excellent service to our mums, whilst finding new ways to increase efficiency and reduce waste. With huge demands on my time, I also have to make sure that I prioritise what’s most important. Finally, as a manager with a huge department – around 300 people – it can be a challenge to disseminate information quickly, in a time of rapid change.

Grades needed
  • GCSEs Maths & English
  • Management qualification, for instance ILM
  • Degree or equivalent experience in a managerial role
Back to top