“What I have learned is that it is never too early to engage with those affected by change.

Communication is vital, whenever others will be impacted by your actions. And communication is about listening as much (probably more than) talking or telling.”

Sheila Voas is the Chief Veterinary Officer. Her role in government grew out of work during the FMD outbreak of 2001. Life always involves compromise and despite missing clinics, her working life affords her important family time.

Download and read her full profile here

Impacting animal health and welfare

Sheila has overseen the reduction of BVD herd incidence, achieving Scottish TB Free status, dealing with the AI outbreak in 2017 and a BSE case last year. Welfare campaigns have included Puppy Breeding and #BuyAPuppySafely. She also created a livestock welfare group so that official bodies could share data and run campaigns to tackle insidious problems, such as transport of lame or heavily pregnant animals to slaughter. She credits the great team of people she works their support in realising these achievements.

Work-life balance and compromise

With most life choices there are inevitably compromises. The important thing is not to regret our choices and constantly ponder the ‘what-ifs’. As Sheila says “Part of me is sad not to be in clinical practice anymore, but I chose to focus on government work which is more Monday to Friday. I wanted to be a hands on Mum and so I made my choices accordingly. I know I have been lucky, being in a position to make these choices and I don’t regret any of them”.

Perfectionism is not a virtue

Sheila’s life lessons will resonate with many of us – that being good enough is good enough and to not be too hard on ourselves. To take opportunities when they come around after weighing up the pros and cons – if missed they rarely come around again. Finally, to look after ourselves as well as everyone else – self-care is vital.

Read our next role model profile by Clare Knottenbelt here

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