How I became a “Pharmapreneur”

In our latest member voice article, NAWP Network Member and Superintendent Pharmacist, Sobha Sharma Kandel, shares her journey of becoming a "Pharmapreneur" and gives advice to women who aspire to have a thriving pharmacy career whilst balancing family life.

Mon 13th September 2021 The PDA

I am the Superintendent Pharmacist and Co-Owner of Neem Tree Pharmacy, Woolwich Late Night Pharmacy and Plumstead Pharmacy. I graduated from the UCL School of Pharmacy in 2004, did my pre-registration training with Boots and Great Ormond Street Hospital, and qualified as a pharmacist in 2005. I gained an Independent Prescribing qualification in 2015 and an MSc in Pharmacy Practice in 2018 from King’s College London.

Currently, I am doing a part-time PhD in Pharmacy Practice at the Medway School of Pharmacy, and I have also previously worked as an NHS Senior Clinical Pharmacist Prescriber in a GP Practice.

I have always been interested in Science and Medicine since I was a child. I chose pharmacy after I had an interesting work experience at the Pharmacy department of Hammersmith Hospital when I was an A-level student. At the time, I also got a job as a healthcare assistant in my local Boots store on Saturdays, which I enjoyed, especially interacting with the patients. I was inspired by the pharmacists with whom I had worked within both the community and hospital. As I explored the pharmacy sector further, this was confirmed to be the best career path for me.

Transitioning into the independent pharmacy sector

My first job after graduation was with Boots, and after working there for a couple of years I decided to start my own business. My husband is an entrepreneur and he encouraged and supported me to get into the independent pharmacy sector. We then purchased our first pharmacy in 2009 (Neem Tree Pharmacy). In 2013, we opened a second branch (Woolwich late-night Pharmacy) and in 2019 we opened our third branch (Plumstead Pharmacy). We will be opening our fourth branch soon.

The most satisfying part of my role is making a positive impact on patients’ health and quality of life. My greatest achievement in my pharmacy career is rising to the challenge during the pandemic and being on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19. Having been successful in the application for the Covid vaccination contract with NHS England for Woolwich late night Pharmacy, we were 1 of the first 15 pharmacies to offer this clinic in London and the first pharmacy in Greenwich.

“Being one of the senior clinical leads and vaccinators at the clinic has been a milestone in my pharmacy career. We have done over 30,000 Covid vaccinations at Woolwich late night Pharmacy so far (AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna) since January 2021 to date.”

 

As a mother of 4 children, homeschooling and childcare were a challenge for me during Covid-19, as it was difficult to juggle work and family life. My job role has also been affected as I have had to be a lot more involved as a pharmacist due to the pandemic and our vaccination clinic.

The only way to balance everything as a woman is to think about what will work for you as an individual and a family. I am lucky to be able to plan my own workload and I also have a strong support network at home.

Advice for women in the workplace

For women wanting to get into this position, I would advise that hard work, focus and resilience are your strengths. Push your boundaries as a woman, think outside of the box and create a vision of what you want to achieve, and work hard towards that goal. Be brave and believe in yourself and your abilities. Do not miss opportunities, be confident and go for it.

“Being assertive, knowing your boundaries, and having a strong support network around you is so important to maintain the balance with your personal and professional life – self-care and health must be prioritised always.”

 

I encourage women to be allies to each other in the world of work. There is strength in unity, and together we can make a difference in society. Always support each other on your path to success and do not bring each other down. We should empower ourselves and the women around us to succeed and excel in every aspect of their lives.

 

By Sobha Sharma Kandel, NAWP Network Member and Superintendent Pharmacist

Learn more

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  • Follow Sobha on Twitter here.

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