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60 seconds with…

Leyla Hannbeck: driving fast, fresh croissants and changing her mind on GDPR

A minute in the company of the National Pharmacy Association’s director of pharmacy.

Leyla Hannbeck, 60 seconds montage

Who is Leyla Hannbeck?

  • Director of pharmacy for the National Pharmacy Association (NPA)
  • Currently the most senior female pharmacist executive among all national pharmacy organisations
  • Responsible for all NPA support services, training solutions and member liaison and representation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
  • Medicines safety officer for all independent pharmacies with less than 50 branches

Summarise your personality in three words.

People-orientated, determined, innovator.

What is special about the place you grew up?

In Finland, it is cold but the nature is amazing. I also spent a big part of my childhood travelling and living in mainly poor countries. It changed my view of the world.

What is the best way to start the day?

With a freshly brewed espresso and a crispy, warm croissant.

What is the most challenging part of being the National Pharmacy Association’s director of pharmacy?

Keeping up to date with all the changes happening in pharmacy. As soon as you think you understand everything, something else pops up. I am expected to have expertise in all things so there is a lot of reading for me.

What is your ultimate career goal?

To be in a position to help improve healthcare globally, perhaps working for the World Health Organization.

When was the last time you changed your opinion or belief about something major?

Until recently I assumed I knew how to make sense of legislation, until the General Data Protection Regulation came out. 

Who is the person you would most like to thank, and why?

My husband for being my biggest supporter and for being so good to everyone around him.

I cannot imagine life without risks — it is how humans evolved

Who would you most like to apologise to and why?

My mum — I was not very nice to her when I was a teenager. Now that I have a teenage daughter, I understand what she must have gone through.

Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?

I thrive in a challenging environment. I am passionate about pharmacy and supporting the pharmacy sector to achieve the best possible outcome for patient safety.

What is something you will never do again?

I will never eat blue cheese again; unfortunately everyone in my family loves this horrid-tasting cheese!

Are career risks worth taking?

Yes. I cannot imagine life without risks. It is how humans evolved.

What do you wish you knew more about?

There are so many things, but understanding more about space is top of the list.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Driving at very high speed where there are no speed limits. There are not many places you can do that in the UK, otherwise it would become a problem.

What single innovation in pharmacy has made the most difference in your field?

Improved integration with the wider primary care systems and commissioning of more clinical services from community pharmacies. For example, the national flu service and access to summary care records.

If I had believed in myself more earlier it would have made life easier

What small gesture from a stranger made a big impact on you?

I was at the airport by myself when a little girl came over and gave me her mini Haribo sweet pack. I must have looked sad and she wanted to cheer me up. It was so cute and kind.

What is the hardest lesson you have had to learn?

Time goes by too quickly. Everyone tells you that but you don’t take notice until you look and see your kids growing up and you think how did that happen so fast?

What is the best and worst piece of career advice you have received?

The best was from my first ever boss in Sweden who said: “You can achieve anything if you work hard and believe in your abilities.” 

The worst was: “You need to behave in a certain way to move ahead with your career” — I did not take that advice.

If you had the chance to do it all again, what would you change?

Believe in myself more. If I had done that earlier it would have made life easier, although I don’t have any regrets.

If you were a drug, what drug would you be and why?

Aspirin — classic and multifarious.

Know an interesting pharmacist?

Let us know if there is anyone you think The Pharmaceutical Journal should feature. Email with their name and contact details.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204840

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