Clea Harmer, Sands Chief Executive
Clea Harmer, Chief Executive, Sands | 8 March 2019

I have the privilege of being Sands’ Chief Executive – and in that role I try to make sure that everything we do contributes to our amazing vision and mission, and I try to enable all the amazing people who work in Sands to do what they need to do and what they do best.

  • How did you get to work in your role? What steps did you take to get there?

I think, like most people, I didn’t know that this is what I wanted to do when I was 18 – so the steps that I have taken have been what felt right at each point in my life, but which also felt as if I was making a difference with whatever knowledge or experience I had.

  • What attracted you to join Sands?

As a junior doctor 30 years ago seeing how few of the healthcare professionals felt able to reach out to parents whose baby had died

In my work with NCT, seeing the devastation and isolation of parents whose baby had died

But perhaps most importantly of all, the death of my own nephew nearly 28 years ago, seeing and feeling the effect on my sister and the whole family, and wishing more than anything that I could have done something differently and hoping that I can do that ‘something differently’ for others instead.

  • What three skills do you think are essential to be a great leader?           

A wish to serve – to enable others.  As a leader you are surrounded by skilled and experienced people – and your role is to provide the environment so that they can do what they do well, not to try and do their work for them

A belief in the vision of what you need to achieve and an ability to communicate that vision to others in a way that motivates others

Authenticity and integrity – without these nobody should want to follow or trust you

  • Why do you think diversity is so important in the workplace?

Life and the world we live in is wonderfully diverse – and any workplace that doesn’t reflect that runs the risk of becoming siloed and narrow in both outlook and practice.  Diversity brings a richness and ‘realness’, and makes sure that our work has meaning and is relevant for all, not just the few.  Diversity reduces the risk of ‘group think’ which in turn allows us all to continually improve.


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