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Podcast – Why I'll always be passionate about community pharmacy

CEO of North East London Local Pharmaceutical Committee (NEL LPC) Shilpa Shah discusses the importance of compassionate leadership in the latest episode of the A Coffee With…podcast series

In a different life, Ms Shah could easily have been the editor of C+D. The community pharmacist, who took over as NEL LPC’s CEO early last year, considered going into journalism at one point.

But it seems that a career in pharmacy was always on the cards. The daughter of two newsagents, Ms Shah has fond memories of popping over to her local pharmacy as a child in London and being given free lollipops by the "lovely" counter assistant, who was always happy to chat. She always wanted to give back to the area she grew up in, so a career in community pharmacy seemed like a no-brainer.

“My heart’s always been in community pharmacy,” she tells the podcast. "I knew I wanted to do something to help people and I knew I wanted to work within the community, but I also liked the retail side of it."

Read more: Podcast – How I use my platform to stand up for female pharmacists

In a career spanning over 20 years, she’s made a name for herself as a fearless and passionate leader. Her pharmacy journey has seen her climb the ladder at large chains such as Boots and Lloydspharmacy before making the move into LPCs, starting with a stint as Kent LPC’s CEO between 2019 and 2022. And her role at NEL LPC has seen her come full circle, advocating for community pharmacies in the area that she grew up in. 

But although she progressed quickly, Ms Shah says she has experienced her fair share of career challenges. Being a successful young woman in leadership has its difficulties, she points out, such as having to relay difficult messages to colleagues. 

Please note that this podcast was recorded remotely, which may at times affect sound quality.


"It was tough because being inexperienced, being a bit younger, I maybe didn't always get it right," she concedes.

"What I've learned along the way [is] it's so important to take your people on the journey with you and doing some work on explaining why we need to make these changes and trying to at least make sure they're 80% on board, if not 100%."

Compassionate leadership is important to Ms Shah, who says her management style has evolved over her many years of experience.

And while she says she’s received support from both men and women over the years, she believes that community pharmacy needs more female leaders if it’s to become a more equitable profession. 

Read more: Podcast – How I overcame challenges to rise through the ranks at Rowlands

Ms Shah is a firm believer in being authentic in your professional life. “You can’t go wrong if you're just yourself,” she says. "It's so much easier than trying to put on this persona of being someone that you're not because you will always revert back to the person you are." 

Listen to the podcast to find out:

  • the impact of gendered language

  • why pharmacy’s gender pay gap has to close

  • the importance of female representation in leadership roles

You can listen to the podcast above. Alternatively, follow C+D’s podcasts by searching “Chemist+Druggist podcast” on your preferred app or on Soundcloud

Join C+D's Women in Pharmacy group for free by registering for free on the C+D Community

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