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The HLA Conference 2019: A Message from the Chair

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

The Healthcare Leadership Academy (The HLA) is hosting its annual conference on the 12th of December at Amnesty International HQ in London. Sida Mao, Chair of The HLA Conference 2019, explores his own experiences of leadership and offers advice on organising a national conference.

As the Chair of this year’s international Healthcare Leadership Academy Conference, I have experienced and reflected upon on several key lessons I have learnt through leading a team to organise and curate this year’s sell out event on December 12th. Attendees and keynote speakers come from healthcare, politics, business, academia and beyond. The conference is a personal, intimate and national platform for healthcare professionals at all stages of training to network and develop their leadership potential.

The HLA focuses on individuals: giving them a personal development experience in leadership to help them fulfil their true potential in their chosen field. By enabling individuals to understand how to motivate the people they work alongside, they can then collaborate to best look after the populations they serve.

Right people with the right skills at the right time

In order to achieve success with any project, the right people, with the right passions and the right attitudes must be at the core. During the organisation of this conference, it was essential that the right people were involved from the start. I sought and built a team of individuals with the same vision and passion for setting up a successful international conference. It is essential as the leader that the roles you allocate to the people in the team align with their individual interests and passions. I realised that knowing your team members as individuals, their interests and vision was essential in success in reaching each objective and for each team member to develop their own skills and experiences.

Start early

Time can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Getting in the diaries early is key. Booking the venue and speakers as early as possible ensures that you have a slot in their diary and provides a foundation and base for the conference. Through cementing your position in their diaries, there will be plenty of time to launch a marketing campaign, make logistical plans and allow room for delays.

The importance of mentorship

Within The HLA programme, a key theme is mentorship. Mentors are not always isolated to the most senior and high ranking professionals. Professionals of any career stage with high value expertise and experience within a certain field can offer invaluable guidance and support. Finding a mentor, developing a good network of like-minded individuals and speaking to people who have been through the process before was very useful. This can offer a lot of foresight and help point out obstacles early on in the planning process.


Much like clinical work, it is important to prioritise tasks. When feeling overwhelmed, it can often feel like there are a million things that must be done at once. However, taking a step back, looking at the event from a bird’s eye view and prioritising tasks which will move the project forward is often the best route to regaining perspective. When feeling swamped with tasks, often asking yourself “what will happen if I complete this now,and what will happen if I complete this later?” can help rank tasks from a scale of: must be done now, urgent but not right now or can be delayed.

Don’t lose momentum

The event will only be as good as you think it will be. There will be moments during the organisation process where momentum will slow: ticket sales will slow down, social media interaction may quieten. When things are more quiet, place more time and energy on things that are within your control and factors which are modifiable. It is important to always focus on the end product and not lose passion for the final goal.

Leadership is a topic not commonly taught or emphasised to students or foundation doctors. As a foundation doctor, I have worked with and experienced different forms of leadership in my first year and a half of clinical practice. I hope that through this year’s conference, we are able to offer a platform for the next generation of healthcare leaders to engage in discussion, collaborate and encourage the development of innovative solutions to today’s problems in healthcare.

Tickets are sold out, but you can join the conversation using #HLA19 on Twitter on 12th December 2019.

Register your interest for The HLA mailing list here.


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