Director of PharmaMastery Consultancy – a student online education portal – keynote speaker, podcast host for Phrrmcy and locum pharmacist are just a few of Rajinder Bains’s roles.

Léa Legraien talks to her about her experiences, challenges and love for the profession.


Q Why did you become a pharmacist?


A I loved science as a child. When I was making my choices [for what to study], it was very much in between pharmacy and dentistry. I did work experience in both fields and my final choice was pharmacy because I loved the patient interaction side of it. I didn’t want to do medicine because it’s too many long hours.


Q What is the key to your success?


A Always aim higher. If someone tells me that something isn’t achievable or that I can’t do it because I’m a female, that just makes me even more determined to do it.

I don’t believe that time should be an excuse for anyone. You can always make time for something.

A key to success is being prepared and knowing what you want to do that day, week or month. All of it comes down to effective planning.

I believe nothing is limited and shouldn’t be restricted based on gender.

When people look at me and think, ‘You’re a female and a mother. You can’t handle all these things’, I think, well, look what I can handle now with a one-year-old kid. That’s something I want to show all women –  that I do all these things while raising my kid.


Q What challenges have you faced along the way?


A I have faced the glass-ceiling effect where nothing is ever good enough. You see other peers who are predominantly males, under qualified compared to your skillset and still get to higher places in management.

I’ve also been exposed to the sisterhood effect, where you see other women come out – and you don’t know whether it’s a case of fear – worried that you’re going to take their role.

I find that there’s a big difference between the East and the West. In the East, women support each other because they know the struggles they’ve gone through to get to where they are.


Q What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt?


A Patience! I’ve learned to look at [things] from both sides.

I’ll sit back and look at [an issue] from the other person’s point of view. What journey are they currently on? What have led the person to make that decision, question or response?

Understanding where a person is can help me control instant emotions such as anger or frustration because it enables me to process a lot better and helps the rapport [between two people].


Q What are the key qualities of a good leader?


A Listening and having open communication. It’s always a two-way thing, never a dictatorship. You have to get feedback, whether it’s from your colleagues or the demographic you’re serving because it provides valuable insight as to how to improve your services.

You have to lead by example at times. People in head offices don’t see what it’s like on the frontline. I always want to be exposed to all areas because it enables me to touchbase with colleagues and staff members.

Understanding their needs and helping them get through is one of the skills leaderships have as well.


Q What advice would you give to women who want to be leaders?


A Dream big and take that first step because that dream isn’t going to come to you, you have to go to it.

Try and surround yourself with people who motivate you, whether it’s through mentors, group meetings or audio books.

Having a support network that encourages you to excel further provides you with positivity to go forward. If you’ve got support and absolute passion for what you want to do then nothing will hold you back.


Q What makes you happy at work?


A Making a difference to people’s lives.


Q How would you describe the current state of pharmacy?


A Community pharmacy is very much in a paradigm shift. There are a lot of workplace pressures that need addressing but these issues won’t be addressed overnight.

We have to change according to our demographic – we’ve got an increasing ageing population and have to meet their needs. Going back to a service-based model where you do services to boost your pharmacy income is what it should be.

It all comes down to effective planning and how you lead your team within the store, not micro managing but encouraging them to take responsibilities within the team and watching them grow, think and learn for themselves. That reduces the pressures pharmacy managers face.


Q Are you confident about the future for pharmacy?


A Yes, I am. It’s a profession that has been highly underrated. We don’t have one voice like doctors or dentists. We have to define what one voice is, whether it’s one specific body or pharmacists collectively speaking as one and only then will change happen.

I am positive for what the profession can do and what it holds in the future. It’s a case of reigniting passion around why people became pharmacists in the first place, which was clinical and evolved into selling items.

The items are still there but we need to go back to being clinical. We didn’t go to university for four years to just stick a label on a box but that’s the image the customer has of us.