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Emerging Leaders 

Our refreshed Emerging Leaders programme

Congratulations to the talented surgeons who have been recruited to our Emerging Leaders programme to date. Please register your interest in the 2024 Emerging Leaders.

Meet the Emerging Leaders of 2022

Nabeela Ahmed
Nabeela Ahmed
Oral and Maxillofacial Consultant
Nabeela Ahmed

Why Nabeela applied

I am a newly appointed Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon based at the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham where I have an interest in treating facial deformity; both developmental and that acquired as a result of trauma. I have an interest in teaching and hold a MMedSci (Med Ed). I recently spent two years in Australasia on a fellowship with my young family before returning to the UK in July 2021.

My interest in leadership roles is largely because of my own experiences of bullying and inappropriate behaviours whilst in surgical training – having also trained less than full time I am fully aware of the perceived (and real) challenges this can create.

This leadership programme will empower me to step up to the challenges of being a female surgical leader. The Kennedy Review has shown us what we need to do to make surgery more inclusive and I want to showcase that anyone can be a surgeon and the diversity that someone like me will bring to the workforce.


Meriem Amarouche
Meriem Amarouche
Neurosurgery Post-CCT Fellow
Meriem Amarouche

Why Meriem applied

Surgeons are no longer valued nor are they able to have a lasting impact based on their technical skills alone. In today’s healthcare institutions, management and leadership skills are just as important. Now on the verge of becoming a consultant neurosurgeon I am increasingly aware of my responsibilities towards my patients and also my colleagues and juniors.

I have applied to be an Emerging Leader because I think that the programme will empower me to take on the roles that will help me contribute towards making neurosurgery a more diverse and inclusive specialty.


Nicki Bystrzonowski
Nicki Bystrzonowski
Plastic Surgery Consultant
Nicki Bystrzonowski

Why Nicki applied

Throughout my training and as a locum consultant I have taken personal responsibility for not just my surgical training but also to further my skills as a leader, manager and teacher, and have taken on a number of leadership roles.

I have realised how important it is to keep teams together, to encourage and support those around us and keep morale high. Throughout my training and as a consultant I am faced with situations that require me to be a leader. However, these skills are ones that are evolving and need to be adapted to different environments. I hope this fellowship will give me the platform and confidence to lead in a variety of situations, some of which may be more hostile.

I aspire to learn to be the best mentor I can for my juniors, to inspire them and to support them through their surgical careers, lead my department and to be able to sit on the RCS England Council to continue the excellent work and help to ensure the Kennedy Review is successful. I would like to meet women who have similar aspirations who I can learn from, exchange ideas with and where we can be champions for each other.

Sarah Shelton
Sara Dorman
Paediatric Orthopaedic post-CCT Fellow
Sara Dorman

Why Sara applied

I want to make a difference; I want to make my voice heard. I want to learn to not be afraid that I am not the oldest, loudest or most confident person in the room but that my opinion is valid and worthwhile.

I recognise now that I will never progress to higher leadership roles until I feel happier in my own ‘qualifications’ and not be worried about my right to be there. I believe that this fellowship will help me address this and to harness the skills I have, to develop into a better leader and translate this into higher leadership.


Charlotte Dugda
Charlotte Dugdale
Orthodontics Consultant
Charlotte Dugdale

Why Charlotte applied

I applied for the Emerging Leaders programme as I wanted to be part of a network of supported and empowered people looking to take on challenges and promote inclusion and diversity not only at the College but in the NHS and further afield. I want to develop my leadership skills, understand better what it takes to drive meaningful change and enable the people around me.

I would like to develop skills on how to communicate better and influence and work as part of a team based on meritocracy. I am striving to become a compassionate, empathetic, productive and creative leader, and this starts with building a diverse and inclusive team. Understanding the limitations and pressures that face us all due to our sex, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic group will allow us all to start to level the playing field of opportunity, and create teams that will understand better the needs of our population and community. This starts with me, and taking opportunities like the Emerging Leaders Fellowship.


Rebecca Fish
Rebecca Fish
Colorectal and Peritoneal Consultant
Rebecca Fish

Why Rebecca applied

As a surgeon, my primary responsibility is to my patients. It is essential that I have both the skills and opportunity to ensure that the environment I work in is optimised to deliver the best care to my patients.

At a local level, this includes ensuring through effective leadership that everyone involved in delivering care for patients understands what is expected and feels empowered to speak up or act if they feel something can be improved on.

On a national level, we have a responsibility as a profession to advocate for the best care for our patients within the wider social and political landscape, through our professional bodies including the Royal Colleges. This includes not only advocating for resources and setting standards, but also ensuring the future of the workforce by ensuring all surgeons feel valued and represented and therefore better able to provide excellent patient care.

As well as being an invaluable opportunity to meet and work with a dynamic group of women across a variety of surgical specialties, the Emerging Leaders programme will help me develop leadership skills and techniques beyond those I am already comfortable with, to enable me to effectively drive collaboration between all stakeholders to deliver compassionate and responsive patient care.


Sana Luqmani
Sana Luqmani
ST5 in Orthodontics (post-CCST)
Sana Luqmani

Why Sana applied

I almost didn't apply for the programme as I was unsure how it would fit into my already busy schedule. However, after speaking to the lovely staff at RCS England I was convinced that this programme would be instrumental in establishing myself in a leadership role in the future where I am able to challenge the culture of prejudice and discrimination many of us face in our working lives. As a Muslim female of colour I often find that we are under-represented in leadership and in our working lives face unconscious bias as well as overt prejudice and discrimination.

My vision is for healthcare to be an inclusive profession and inviting for bright minds from all communities and backgrounds.

I am particularly looking forward to networking with the other candidates on this course, current and previous, and to hear about challenges they have faced in the workplace. I feel knowing the challenges of your colleagues, staff and patients is essential for forming all-inclusive policies in healthcare.


Hannah Maple
Hannah Maple
Transplant Surgery, Locum Consultant
Hannah Maple

Why Hannah applied

I applied for the Emerging Leaders Programme for the educational, mentorship and networking opportunities it affords. I am at the stage of my career where I am transitioning into independence clinically, academically, and managerially. I have recently become a locum consultant transplant surgeon in a large central London teaching hospital and intend to pursue an academic surgical career. I am also the elected chair of ELPAT – a section of the European Society for Organ Transplantation dedicated to the Ethical, Legal and Psychosocial aspects of Transplantation.

I am hoping this fellowship will build my knowledge and not only help me gain confidence in leadership roles, but also in developing my own leadership style.


Grainne McKenna
Gráinne McKenna
Neurosurgery Consultant
Gráinne McKenna

Why Gráinne applied

As an early career consultant neurosurgeon I recognise the need for more diverse leadership in the NHS, particularly within the field of surgery, and my own specialty, neurosurgery. The Emerging Leaders Fellowship presents a unique opportunity to network with contemporary female surgeons from across the UK; to share experiences and learn from one another, in order to better serve the teams we lead.

With my background in medical education, I aspire to undertake education leadership roles in the future, and I hope to take advantage of the opportunities for mentorship and formal leadership training, as I play my part in promoting diversity in surgery and neurosurgery, both as a role model and an activist.

Kersten Morgan Bates
Kersten Morgan Bates
ST7 in Vascular Surgery
Kersten Morgan Bates

Why Kersten applied

I wanted to participate in the emerging leaders programme as I think it is a unique way of connecting with other inspiring women in surgery. I hope that the programme enables me to enhance my leadership skills in my peri-CCT period and provide me with the skills to take on more leadership roles in my consultant practice. It is also a wonderful opportunity to access opportunities within the College and to better understand how various College committees work.


Saba Raza
Saba Raza-Knight
Specialty Trainee in Neurosurgery
Saba Raza-Knight

Why Saba applied

I am a neurosurgery registrar, currently based at the Royal Preston Hospital. Prior to my surgical training, I completed an MB PhD in developmental biology and remain active in clinical research and medical education.

I had two children early in my surgical training, and currently train less than full time. As a parent carer, I am interested in disability rights and advocacy for patients and surgeons.

I applied to be an Emerging Leader to better understand how surgical education and less than full time training are influenced at a College level. The programme also provides an opportunity to diversify the representation of surgeons within the College. I'm excited to network with other women surgeons to share and learn from each others’ experiences.

CJ Tollan
Clare Josephine Tollan
National Oncoplastic Breast TIG Fellow
Clare Josephine Tollan

Why Claire Josephine applied

I am at a point in my career where I hope to increasingly have and create opportunities where effective leadership can make a positive difference to the health service, my colleagues and most importantly patients.

I feel strongly about diversity and inclusion and I am enthused by the College’s commitment to this. The Emerging Leaders programme is a valuable mentorship and network, and an opportunity to contribute in the future.


Further information and queries


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