For this year's International Women's Day, we wanted to highlight one of amazing women who have been with Waterloo Quay for a while.
For this year's highlight, we had a small chat with Lynda Bruce, who is a senior OH advisor for Alpha Health Services.
For starters, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Born in Aberdeen, moved to Hertfordshire in early teenage years. Worked in Insurance in an actuarial setting before General Nurse training. After qualifying and newly married we moved to the British Virgin Islands, my husband was a Chartered Accountant. My husband was Financial Director of a Company that hauled yachts out of the Caribbean for repairs while I worked as a volunteer in a VSO School and then ran a pre-kindergarten preschool group.
We lived up in the hills and so I used my garden produce to make money- I grew the only fresh green watercress on the island which I sold through local business and I used fruit to make jams, jellies and chutneys to sell to holiday makers-I made fabulous Mango Jam and Lime Curd. I dried and pressed beautiful flowers such as Hibiscus and then framed them to sell and we dried seeds from the trees and made Christmas decorations. Sadly , when I was 6 months pregnant with our third baby my husband became unwell and even though we traveled to Puerto Rico for better medical care my husband sadly died.
My oldest two children were 2 and 4 years old and my third baby was born in July of that year two months after her father had died. I stayed in the West Indies the rest of that year so I was able to sell our house and say goodbye to my friends. I was offered a job as a Primary School Teacher but the Virgin Island society was fairly male dominated and it was not possible to get employment that would allow me to bring up my family So I came home to Aberdeenshire settling near my Mum and grandparents.
Initially I worked at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary but the hours were difficult to manage as a single mother of three young children so I tried several jobs, some in nursing and some in sales! I ended up working for an Occupational Health Company owned by Aberdeen University and rose through the organisation to become Chief Occupational Health Nurse and Business Development Manager. I was part of the expansion process gaining new business and setting up the infrastructure of new premises from Inverness to London. Then I went to work in a Private Hospital in Aberdeen – my role was to create and provide in house Occupational Health Services and also commercial external Occupational Health services-I also managed the medical laboratories, the counselling services and set up Aberdeen's first Private GP Services. I really loved this job but ironically in a major buy out my previous employer bought all my Occupational Health Contracts. This resulted in my own Company Alpha Health Services Limited being created in 2005. I won back the business that had been lost and set out to provide first class Occupational Health services to organisations in the North East of Scotland . The organisation thrived and I sold my company in early 2021, to an organisation I continue to work for now.
Around 2014 I also started to work at Robert Gordon University as a lecturer in Occupational Health. I usually work a two day week at each organisation often from home- my family are now all grown up and successfully part of the world , I remarried along the way so apart from enjoying life with my husband I help care for my Mum who will be 92 this month.
I can honestly say I really love both my jobs – it's great waking up looking forward to whatever the day holds. Occupational Health is not only my occupation, it's my passion although it's fair to say it is a mystery to most people!
Occupational Health is all about looking after people at work and whenever possible helping them to stay in work. We do this through a number of services including pre-employment health assessments and management referrals to offer management advice on how best to support employees. We also undertake statutory health surveillance to ensure employees are regularly tested to ensure they are not developing any harmful effects from work – such as going deaf from noise exposure or getting skin problems from being exposed to chemicals or indeed just plain water. I am privileged to get to practice Occupational Health and also to help educate tomorrow's Occupational Health Nurses in my role at Robert Gordon University.
With my involvement in Occupational Health I have become fascinated by the history of Occupational Health. I truly believe that if we forget to look at what went well and not so well in the past we will fail to thrive by making the same mistakes over and over again.
My free time is spent with my family and friends. I have 7 Grandchildren -two in Scotland,Three in England and two in Perth Australia, ages ranging from 7 months to 19 years old and I have a fabulous group of friends locally, at work and globally. I love spending time with them all .
What has been your greatest achievement in your career thus far?
My greatest achievements in my career are the moments when someone I am looking after tells me I have really helped them to see a way forwards and a route back to living their best life after a temporary derailment.
Who are your role models?
My role models are my fabulous children and their partners, my friends and the truly amazing people I work with. For me a stand out example of a good role model is Dolly Parton! She is successful but gives much back to the community and I think we can all try to emulate that urge to support and help our fellow citizens in the world.
What advice would you give to other women within your industry that you wish you’d been given?
I think all women should consider entrepreneurship – the best advice in starting a business probably depends on where you are in planning your venture but I would make two recommendations;
2) Make sure you support your co travellers by being as kind and as generous as you can.
Thank you, Lynda, for taking the time to chat with us and for sharing your story and advice!