Nigerian to UK Pharmacist, Store Leader, and beyond: celebrating Adeola’s inspiring career journey at Boots
My career in Pharmacy so far
I first trained as a Pharmacist in Nigeria, and after practising for a few years there I moved to the UK in 2006. I joined Boots as a Trainee Pharmacist, then known as Pre-registration Pharmacist, after I finished the Overseas Pharmacist course (OSPAP) at the University of Brighton. I was attracted to Boots because it was the pharmacy I saw at the airport every time I came to the UK on holiday before I decided to relocate here. I was always a Boots customer at the airport stores on my way back home after my holidays. I have worked across a wide variety of stores and I have enjoyed my time in every one of them. I loved my time at the Wimbledon store the most. It was challenging but fulfilling. I developed as a leader and achieved a lot with my team. The best thing about working for Boots is the brand – it is a privilege to play a tiny part in upholding the brand. Boots also provides outstanding training at every level. My proudest achievements while working for Boots has been as an Area Manager, taking the area that I look after to great heights of performance and people development.
My first qualified Pharmacist role at Gatwick Airport
After my Trainee Pharmacist year at the Wallington branch, I gained my first role as a Pharmacist in Gatwick Airport. I worked across the Boots stores in the North and South Terminals. This was a really exciting time and I remember my spell in the airports with great fondness. It was very different to the high street – I learned about so many exotic holiday destinations from speaking with customers and patients. In an airport store, especially in the stores after airport security, the Pharmacist will use their over-the-counter knowledge a lot because you have to think on your feet to support customers with the medicines available behind the counter.
Becoming a Pharmacist Store Manager
Being a Pharmacist Store Manager is an extension of the Pharmacist role. As a Pharmacist, you are a team leader and as Pharmacist Store Manager, you are a leader and a manager, responsible and accountable for performance and development. Being a naturally curious person, I asked a lot of questions when I was working at the airport, which meant I knew quite a bit about the retail side of the business when I started the management role. I also quickly built relationships with experienced managers around me, offering help to them where I could and receiving their help for what I struggled with.
Working as a Pharmacy Manager in Croydon
A Pharmacist Store Manager is both the Pharmacist and a Store Manager. A Pharmacy Manager runs the pharmacy department within a larger store, with another person as the Store Manager. My role as a Pharmacy Manager involved looking after a team of 14 dispensers, which was more than I was doing in my previous Pharmacist Store Manager role. Croydon was a flagship store with Care Home Dispensing. My previous experience as a Store Manager, though in a small store, was invaluable in this role. As a Pharmacy Manager, I was responsible for ensuring we had the right people, in the right place at the right time in both the walk-in dispensary and the Care Homes Dispensing unit. I also line managed everyone that worked in the units, including three Pharmacists.
Progressing to Store Manager in London
Although I thoroughly enjoyed my role as Pharmacy Manager in Croydon, I relish the responsibility that comes with being a Store Manager, managing a store from end to end. My first appointment as Store Manager was in an edge of town store. I had to re-engage the team, recruit new staff and re-merchandise the entire shop floor to improve on shelf availability. It was so satisfying to see the sales improve dramatically and the team members happy to come to work daily. I worked one shift in a week to support the pharmacy team and covered my Pharmacist’s holidays. Then I moved to a larger store where it was more difficult to keep up with pharmacy because of the size of the retail business, however, I consciously made the effort to stay abreast of all processes and developments in pharmacy so I could support my team.
Promotion to my current role as Area Manager
A day in the life of an Area Manager typically starts with reviewing performance across the stores. Then it’s on to calls with Store Managers, functional Leaders, and other teams requiring your assistance and expertise. This role is all about people management; when people are empowered to do their jobs, great performances follow. I manage and support the Store Manager and they run their store to produce great results.
Relationship building is critical. Influence stems from relationship. I have the great opportunity to build these relationships with the people I work with to help change things for the better. I help them to see the “why”. I also remind them that the view from the top is always the best, so we need to keep winning!
My favourite part about being an Area Manager is the people. Store Managers and everyone that works in the stores. They are amazing, hilarious, helpful… I would not do this job without the people!
When I first started at Boots as a Pharmacist, I never thought my career would lead to working as an Area Manager. Absolutely not. I was not even thinking of managing a store!
My advice to current Store Managers who are wanting to progress to an Area Manager role would be for them to reach out and support their Area Managers. Help the Area Manager with the people agenda, provide support for other Store Managers and be known for something good in the region.
Why I believe diversity in the workplace is important
Diversity in the workplace is a strategic advantage for any business. As a result of the different perspectives and background/experiences, there can be better decision making and innovation. For instance, I share many of the sayings/proverbs from my culture with my team, to help in making sense of some everyday tricky situations. It is important that we all feel safe and comfortable in the workplace, and diversity helps with this by helping people feel a sense of belonging. Imposter syndrome sets in if you stand out in any group.
Join Adeola and our wonderful Pharmacy teams in store – read more and apply now.