Tara Humphrey, a trailblazing British businesswoman, seamlessly juggles various roles – from CEO of the primary healthcare consultancy THC to supporting important causes like the stem cell register. As she continues to inspire many with her podcast, advocacy, and adventurous pursuits, we delve deeper into her journey, insights, and aspirations.
Personal Journey & Background:
Before I set up my consultancy, I was employed at my local university; however, after a while, the environment no longer suited me. A few individuals made comments about some black students. Although those comments weren’t directed at me, in that moment, I knew the university was no longer the place for me.
Whilst I was still there, I was working on a project with GPs, and when I let them know I was leaving, he asked – “Who is going to write our operating plan!” – and without even thinking, I replied – “Well, I will if you pay me, as I am not going to have a job.”
They agreed, and that evening, I went home and logged on to Companies House and set up Tara Humphrey Consulting Ltd. It was completely unplanned.
One contract led to another via word of mouth, and 8.5 years later, THC is still alive and kicking.
When I left the university, I was in the middle of doing my MBA and had 3 kids aged 1,3 and 5. My manager let me leave my job without me having to pay back the cost of the course. She just said to make sure I finished it. I did, and graduated with a distinction.
It just drives me to want to make a difference and use my platform to motivate, educate and inspire others.
When I support my clients, I am always thinking about the patient and not necessarily the system constraints but I do see both sides.
I know healthcare workers often work excessively and sometimes lack the time and resources to deliver the care they would ideally like, and patients want care on their timeframe.
Professional Achievements & Insights:
In 2020 – 2022, I funded my own scholarship fund. When George Floyd sadly lost his life in 2020, I felt compelled to speak up and take action, but I wasn’t sure what to do. I traced back the steps that had led me to where I am today, and the constant in my life was support, mentorship and education
I got out an A3 piece of paper and mapped out my mentorship programme. Who it was for, how it would be organised and how I would promote it. The programme originally involved me awarding £10,000 of my own money in educational grants.
I initially set out to mentor everyone by myself, but then the most remarkable thing happened: people I had never met asked through social media, and those who I had interviewed on my podcast The Business of Healthcare reached out and asked how they could support me. At first, I declined the offers because I wanted to do it on my own, and then I realised I was being stupid and should accept the help.
In our first cohort, we had 17 amazing mentees and 11 mentors. In 2021 we re-ran it. We kept the mentorship programme, and instead of the educational grants, we funded health inequality grants.
To date, I have given £17k of my own money to this scheme.
That trying to make money in this space is bad and that everything should be free. I titled my podcast The Business of Healthcare because of this. This sector needs public money, private investment, direct paying customers and non-for-profit entities and volunteers. First and foremost, we must put safety, quality, equity and equality at the heart of what we do, backed by a sustainable funding model.
In podcast episode 247, titled Personalised Care Planning in Practice, I shared my experience of what it was like creating a care plan for my youngest daughter who has type 1 diabetes and was transitioning from primary to secondary school. In that podcast, I felt sincere and vulnerable and got upset at some points, sharing the challenges I’d experienced in managing this change.
That podcast has not only performed well, but it’s also led to me working with my diabetes team to create resources to support other families, which will be shared this year to help those going to secondary school in September 2024. I’m pleased and proud that I used my platform to share my experiences and it is making a difference.
It has also empowered and motivated me to get more involved in the type 1 diabetes community.
As a female and a representative of the BAME community in a leadership role, what challenges have you faced and how have you navigated them?
A challenge I am currently facing is that many people assume that because I am black, life is hard and more challenging professionally because of the colour of my skin.
However, in the eight years I’ve been running this business, my clients have hired me because I’ve got the knowledge, expertise, background, and track record to deliver their projects and services.
It also feel pressure to represent the BAME community and do and say things which really push me out of my comfort zone and I understand how important representation is and for people to share their stories and experiences but I think everyone should be able to lead and put themselves forward in a way that feels true to them.
So how am I navigating this? I am staying true to myself. If it means I don’t get as many opportunities, I am happy with this. And I highlight my peers and colleagues who do feel more comfortable in this area to step forward. I feel like I’m leading from behind versus in front and
i know it’s an unpopular opinion and one that has caused me tears.
Adventure & Personal Pursuits:
I like a challenge, and I want to do hard things which are maybe not the norm, and that’s why it’s not about big or famous races but pushing myself and seeing how far I can go. Seeing the world through adventure is a great way to travel and I now know I have the mindset to stick out the distance
In 2022, I attempted to run two marathons in two days across the Sahara Desert. On the first day, I only achieved 18 miles because I was violently sick after my first hour of running. Heatstroke and severe dehydration affected me. The whole thing just started to become a nightmare, and then I thought to myself, I’ve come all this way and have told everybody that I will do it, so there is no way I am going home without the medal.
I believe there were 100 people in that race, and on the second day, I came 30 out of 100.
Sometimes, when you’re determined, even if you feel rubbish, focusing on the task empowers you. I powered through, and I’m so glad I did. I’m tempted to return to the Sahara and complete two marathons in two days; the desert and I have unfinished business.
I would suggest surrounding yourself with good people who work hard, trust your instincts, and apply a strategy to building your career. Focus on who you want to be and where you want to go. Don’t waste your precious time doing anything but focusing forward.
I have always invested in having a coach, and in my employed roles, I always sought out mentors and i believe in equipping yourself with the skills and training to support you to do the best you can do.
And i would say lead your way. Don’t let other people put you into a box. I know this takes confidence and resilience, but when you have a vision for your life, it makes it a lot easier to focus.
This year, we are excited to partner with an organisation called Best Practice, which delivers one of the largest primary healthcare conferences across the UK. I’m chairing their Primary Care Network Transformation Theatre, and they’re also collaborating and using our The Business of Healthcare podcast to interview sponsors and speakers in the lead-up to the show, which will involve us publishing two podcasts a week – quite a big undertaking.
I’d also like to raise the profile of the podcast. We’ve recorded over 260 episodes, and I would love for as many healthcare professionals and people interested in healthcare as possible to listen to the podcast. It’s a varied show with fantastic people showcasing their projects and leadership journeys.
Thank you, Tara Humphrey, for allowing us to learn more about your multi-faceted life and your invaluable contributions to healthcare and society. We look forward to sharing your insights with our readers