Looking forward: getting started as the College's new CEO

Published: 14/01/2020
Jonathan Brüün

Chief Executive Officer, Royal College of Anaesthetists

I was delighted to join the Royal College of Anaesthetists as its Chief Executive Officer on 2 January. It is a privilege to be appointed to the position, and to be given the responsibility of stewarding the College in partnership with my colleagues and in close collaboration with the President and elected leaders, through the years ahead.

Knowing that the relationship between the management of an organisation like the College and its members is a critical one, I thought this blog would provide an ideal opportunity to introduce myself, and perhaps to set out a few priorities for the College as I understand them at this early stage.

First things first, a little about me. It’s safe to say I have a fairly varied CV. I trained as an actor, and spent the first eight years of my working life juggling TV series, plays and commercials (along with the occasional bar job). From there, I got a taste for making TV and video, and eventually left acting to work as a producer in a company specialising in human factors training videos for high reliability organisations, including healthcare. That brought me into contact with the NHS, and with healthcare systems in countries around the world. From there, I was able to move into a communications role for the British Pharmacological Society (BPS), and was eventually appointed CEO of the BPS in 2012.

Working with colleagues and trustees at the BPS, I oversaw expansion of the membership, diversification and growth in revenues, the strengthening of relationships with key partners, and a focus on embedding our scientific journals into the fabric of the Society. In the meantime, our academic and clinical leadership made huge strides in ensuring the discipline became more outward-facing and relevant – seeing the challenge presented by an apparent ‘dilution’ of the core discipline in academia and industry as an opportunity to engage with new communities.

But that was then and this is now, and I am aware of the significant challenges the College is facing. I recognise that the workforce is under pressure from a variety of directions, including the decision to leave the EU and recent changes to taxes on public sector pension scheme. The new curriculum will inevitably take time, care and patience to bed in, and there is a continuing need to encourage appropriate and supportive behaviours in the workplace at times of great stress and pressure.

But there is a lot to be excited about. I have joined the College at a time when its focus on perioperative care offers an opportunity to underline the value of anaesthetists across the patient pathway. Our commitment to our membership in 2020, whether through the strategic goal to engage more at a regional level, the forthcoming membership survey, or the imminent recruitment of a new Head of Membership Engagement, is also welcome. I am looking forward to working with colleagues on the British Journal of Anaesthesia to strengthen our partnership and the access of all of our members to leading edge thinking in our specialty. And the journal may be key to helping us achieve a further goal – to be more international in our approach and influence, and to support colleagues from around the world to create better, safer care for patients.

As I begin my role with the College, I am grateful to Tom Grinyer who did such a fantastic job in shaping and supporting the organisation before me. I’d also like to pay tribute to the staff, under the leadership of Sharon Drake as Interim CEO, working alongside the Senior Management Team, who have handled the last few months with huge commitment and skill. It’s wonderful to have walked into the building on 2 January knowing that the organisation has been in safe hands and has continued to deliver with such quality over the past six months, and that is due in large part to their professionalism and energy. 

I look forward to meeting and working with you all in the years ahead.

Jonathan Brüün