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7 Questions with Pamela Bishop

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Jonno White

7 Questions with Pamela Bishop

Name: Pamela Bishop

Current title: Chief Marketing Officer

Current organisation: Blooms The Chemist, Australia

Pamela is a senior executive with over 20 years’ experience in retail across Ireland and Australia, primarily working across retail pharmacy operations, merchandise, and marcomms. As the CMO at Blooms The Chemist, she leads brand strategy, corporate social responsibility, events, and all aspects of marketing and communications. Pamela is known for her work ethic and her ability to stay true to a greater vision. She thrives when collaborating and implementing change.

Pamela has traveled extensively studying best in class retail and views travel as a wonderful learning opportunity to discover different markets, retail trends, businesses, and cultures. She mentors in her spare time, is an avid supporter of female empowerment, and is passionate about responsible business. Pamela is backed by an EMBA and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Outside of work, Pamela loves to travel. When she’s not globe-trotting, she can be found enjoying quality time with her family and friends.

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1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

The most challenging thing in my role as a senior executive for a large retail pharmacy business is alignment. What I mean by that is getting all key stakeholders, such as the individual pharmacy owners on board to have a uniform brand approach, and most importantly to ensure a consistent offer for the customer.

I’ve found to implement significant change in the business, strong influencing skills are required. It’s about bringing key stakeholders on the journey of change, communicating regularly and having everyone buy-in to the plan. It can be quite challenging at times, but it’s also very rewarding and satisfying when you implement positive change and get everyone rowing in the same direction.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

When I started out in a corporate role, it was on the merchandise side of the business. I was responsible for everything to do with products, pricing, brands, supplier negotiations and supply chain. I always worked closely with the marketing team because in retail, the buying and marketing teams collaborate often to bring product promotions to life.

My career progressed over time and I moved to the role of General Manager – Merchandise and Marketing. In that role I led the buying and marketing teams and was more involved in big picture and strategic projects. Time went on, I continued to grow and develop and as a team we had some great success.

Last year I was promoted to Chief Marketing Officer. It’s been an interesting time with Covid-19 keeping us very busy, but I’m really enjoying this role where I oversee all things marketing and communications related. I also head up the CSR committee for the business. Blooms The Chemist is committed to broadening our CSR efforts and to support communities in Australia and beyond. As a leader I care about driving sustainability and leading with purpose and I’m fortunate to be able to practice this in my role.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

We are early risers, and mornings are crazy in my house. I have a toddler (Fionn) who is full of energy so as soon as we wake up it’s go, go, go! Early mornings it’s about organising breakfast and getting him ready for his day at daycare. My husband usually drops him off and then I get ready for my day. I go to the gym every Tuesday and Thursday morning - working out keeps me fit, puts me in a great head space, and I find it is quality “me time.”

I am a very organised person, and like to plan each of my weeks to ensure I have enough time for checking in on my team, staying on top of my work, staying connected to key business partners, and having time for strategic thinking. However, every day is different, and things can pop up resulting in a need to change my focus. So, while I enjoy structure to my day, I’m flexible and accept that business priorities can easily shift.

When the workday is finished, I enjoy spending quality time with my husband and son. When the weather is good (which is most of the time here in Australia), we either go for a swim in the afternoon or we take our dog, Molly for a walk. Then its dinner time followed by a bath and a story for Fionn before he goes to bed around 7pm.

Evenings are mostly time for Evan and I to catch up and relax. I regularly do a Pilates class on a weeknight, and I also spend some time on my ‘extracurricular activities.’ I’m involved in some advisory boards and industry committees, I mentor in my spare time, and I also speak at some events. So I allocate one night a week to keep on top of those activities.

Overall, it’s always a busy day and I’m in bed by 10pm or sometimes earlier.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

I’ve definitely learned that leadership requires authenticity, kindness, empathy, and vulnerability.

My most significant leadership lesson is that leadership is not about you, it’s about other people. It’s about unlocking the potential in others and inspiring them to do better.

Outstanding leaders develop other leaders!

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The book that had the most impact on my leadership quite early on was Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That book is over 30 years old now, but the content is still highly relevant today, so I think the book is timeless. It helps you look at your life, your work, and your business from a higher perspective.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

It’s so important to harness talent and to take the time to develop it. For me, this comes back to the best leaders being the ones who invest in and develop other leaders.

I believe businesses need to create an environment where people can learn and grow. I am a firm believer that the individual is responsible for their own development, not the organisation. However, organisations can and should facilitate, enable and support individuals with their development plans and provide ongoing learning opportunities to help build leadership skills, along with offering opportunities for career progression.

I believe organisations should invest in mentoring and leadership programs and provide various training opportunities. By making self-assessment and goal setting tools available to employees, coupled with providing regular feedback and a clear review process, employees are empowered to build their leadership skills.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

In 2019 I was heavily involved in a CSR project in Zambia. I was in Zambia with some colleagues the year prior to prepare for a conference, and we got the opportunity to visit a health clinic in a town called Simonga while we there. We soon learned that babies were being born in the same area where patients with HIV were being treated, so there was a risk of cross contamination. There was no running water or no real facilities, the conditions were pretty poor. We decided we needed to do something about it.

Blooms The Chemist funded the building of a maternity ward and a women’s shelter there. This doubled the size of the clinic and moved new babies away from the HIV clinic. Before, women were walking up to 11km in labour to get to the hospital to deliver their babies, and they faced many risks on their journey due to the local wildlife. So, the womens shelter we built makes a massive difference because it allows women to get there early and rest right next to the maternity ward until they go into labour.

That was a piece of work I really loved being part of and I’m very proud of. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.