Becoming a Pharmacy Technician, a leader and bringing your authentic self to work – Conor’s Story #Pride2022
I’m Conor and I have been at Boots for seven years. I started when I was 16 as a Customer Advisor, working in the photo department of a busy shopping centre store. My journey with Boots has been a whirlwind and I never would’ve thought I’d still be here so many years later, let alone in the role I am now as a Store Manager. It means a lot to me to work in an organisation that has over 170 years heritage, I am always so proud to tell people that I work for Boots.
I have been a member of the Pride Alliance Business Resource Group (BRG) for just over a year now and I love being involved in what we are doing to encourage a more inclusive workplace.
Becoming a qualified Accuracy Checking Pharmacy Technician
Before working at Boots, I hadn’t considered a career in Pharmacy, but whilst working as a Customer Advisor in store I was encouraged to explore a route into pharmacy by some great managers and I am so glad that they inspired me to go down this pathway. I found myself interested in the Healthcare counter, but the dispensary was always so scary to me! Looking back, I am so grateful that I took the plunge. I undertook training to become a qualified Pharmacy Advisor and my next goal was to become an Accuracy Checking Pharmacy Technician (ACPT). The training to become an ACPT was great journey, I was supported by a brilliant tutor and line manager with everything I needed to succeed.
As an ACPT, I am responsible for legal, safe and ethical decision-making in the pharmacy, delivering efficient dispensary operations and ordering medicines, labelling, dispensing and endorsing of prescriptions. Although I have only been a qualified ACPT for a short period of time, I find the role very rewarding – every day is different, and I really enjoy it. It is the highest qualification that I can achieve in pharmacy, and I am so proud of myself that I have been able to accomplish this and support my patients and team members further with additional learning and knowledge.
Whilst working in this role I was nominated for the Rising Star Award with Training Matters in 2019 and subsequently won! This was the highlight of my career so far. It meant so much to me, being recognised for something that I do every day, and it gave me the confidence to push myself to be the best that I can be, and I believe it really gave me a springboard into the person I am today.
Becoming a Store Manager
I have been a Store Manager for over two years now, and I have just been appointed to a new, more complex store which I am really excited about. After progressing into Pharmacy, I found myself becoming a leader in dispensary and my managers at the time saw something in me that I didn’t even know I had, from there, I was encouraged to complete the Leadership programme. I have now worked in many various roles in store, including: Customer Advisor, Pharmacy Advisor, Assistant Manager, Pre-registration Pharmacy Technician, Dispensing Store Manager, now ACPT Store Manager.
My favourite part of being a Store Manager is leading my team and being able to see the results of this. I feel content and rewarded that I have been able to see my team grow and develop under my management. I am a very open leader; I encourage my team to be open and honest with both me and the rest of their team. I coach my team daily and do my best to lead by example. The best leaders that I have personally had in the company are ones that are approachable, and I aim to be like that every day.
Together with Pride
The Business Resource Groups (BRGs) that Boots have are integral to making everyone feel included and supported in the workplace. The BRGs help with coaching team members, and they allow team members to build connections in the business who have similar interests or backgrounds. It is also great to know that it isn’t just members of the LGBTQ+ community who are part of the Pride Alliance, as it welcomes allies too, which makes me feel very proud that as a company we are sharing experiences and teaching each other about different diversity groups.
Seeing how the Pride Alliance BRG has grown over the years, and the impact that it is having on team members, especially more so now with Heads of Stores being affiliated with different BRGs is amazing; we are encouraging representation across the business.
Being YOU with Pride
I feel very comfortable working at Boots, being able to be my authentic self. Boots is a very inclusive employer, and I have never felt discriminated against because I am gay.
Pride month to me is about celebrating being a part of the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer) community and how the community have been able to overcome discrimination over the years. From when I was a teenager compared to now, the entire LGBTQ+ ‘scene’ has changed. There is much more exposure that young people have now, much more support than I ever had, and it is fantastic for all members of the community as we have so much inclusion and representation – I am proud to be gay and to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
I came out when I was 17 and was lucky that everyone was very supportive of me, made me feel at ease and reassured me that it wouldn’t change anything.
The advice I’d give to anyone struggling with their identity is do not worry. There can be dark days – I’ve been there – and you think that you will never get through it, but you will, I promise. If you are struggling, do not struggle alone. Talk to your friends, family, colleagues, anyone you trust. It’s important that you don’t bottle it all up. I remember when I was trying to come out, I reached out to people who had recently gone through the same thing and they provided me with so much support and reassurance. Never be afraid to be your true self!
If any Boots team members are interested in joining a BRG you can find out more on the intranet by searching ‘Business Resource Groups’ or ask your line manager for more information.
If you’re looking for a role in Pharmacy, click here to read more.