Janie McCusker, Chair of NHS Forth Valley

Why did you want to chair a Scottish Health Board?

I like learning about and exploring new horizons and being part of a ‘bigger picture’ that supports individuals and communities. What better opportunity to do that by being a Health Board Chair and to give something back to Scotland?

What particular skills do you think you bring to the role?

I bring leadership and life experience from a variety of fronts including the Royal Air Force, United Nations, UNICEF and the further education sector (I am the current Chair of the Glasgow Colleges Regional Board). On a personal level I am inclusive, curious and love nothing better than to support improvement and innovation among people, teams and organisations.

What do you see as your biggest challenges?

To get my head around all the NHS acronyms – there are so many! Seriously, I like to view challenges as opportunities and I look forward to working with everyone across NHS Forth Valley and beyond to take what has worked for you in the past and in the current to a future place that delivers a sense of purposefulness and potential. COVID-19 has highlighted on all fronts a need for reciprocal relationships and a sense of shared purpose. In my previous roles I know that by working together we can achieve great things.

You have had a wide and varied career – tell us a bit about your background

I have had quite a wide and varied career which has shaped the way my approach to life and work. My biggest lesson is that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ – in my international roles with the UN I learned very quickly synergy delivers more not less. People deliver great things when they work together to achieve common goals and I take this learning with me in my everyday interactions.

What do you think is your greatest achievement?

I think my greatest achievement is yet to come! I have had achievements at various stages of life that lead me onto the next steps taken and have brought me to where I am today. Perhaps this next phase will lead to my greatest achievement.

Do you have any particular memories you would like to share from your travels?

I have had some fun as well as some scary moments. Like being on an aircraft when the undercarriage didn’t want to come down on landing (it eventually did after a long-time circling!) or trying out the local languages and seeing the amusing smiles on faces when I mixed up words. Most of all, I remember the hospitality of people that have very little yet offer you everything they have, extremely humbling experiences.

In terms of food, which cuisine is your favourite?

Nourishing comfort food and chocolate!

Bookworm or TV addict?

I do read books and I also like to watch TV, however I prefer to be doing something outdoors like walking (ideally barefoot on a beach!) or spending time in my garden. There is something quite lovely about connecting with nature and taking time to notice things you didn’t have time to notice before. The pace of life can be very fast so sometimes it’s good to slow down and see what you are missing.

What has been the most exciting moment in your life?

Too many to mention.

Do you have a personal code that you live by?

Not a personal code as such but I was brought up with the philosophy that we should respect and treat each other as equals. Authenticity, compassion and inclusivity are all important to me and as well as well responsibility in pursuit of improvement matters lots.

A mega million pound win on the lottery; how would you spend it?

I would buy an apartment in New York and another in Vienna and, I would open a wellbeing retreat. I would, of course, share some of it too.

If you had one wish, what would it be?

To win a mega million pound lottery😊