People & Perspectives

Meet Shireen Quadri, pharmacy operations lead, Boots UK

From holiday temp to operations lead, Quadri shares how joining the REACH business resource group helps spark conversations about equality and embracing identity at home.

By Sarah Cason
Shireen Quadri
shireen in front of flowers

I have been with Boots UK for 20 years now. I currently work in the Digital Pharmacy Operations team, but that’s not where I started. I actually began as temporary retail associate over the holidays, and then I was kept on as a skincare consultant before transferring to the pharmacy counter and completing the training to be a pharmacy dispenser.

From there, I took the jump to head office, and then to business as usual pharmacy operations, and then I was nabbed by a team we refer to as “Future of Pharmacy” within a couple of months. It’s here where I can say my support center career has really begun. As an operations lead, I aim to reduce as much workload for our pharmacy team members, as well as support them with our digital platforms. This means being the voice for our store team members when any new digital projects are being considered, as well as being the central support to the Boots prescription delivery service that’s based in Leicester, UK.

Quadri and friend in mosque

Quadri (left) with a friend on a visit to Istanbul, Turkey.

In a typical day, I have to admit that I’m not an early bird, so my snooze button is overused. With that in mind, I start the working day anytime between 8 and 9 a.m. This is a luxury compared to my store working days! I’m also not a breakfast person so won’t eat my first meal until mid- to late-morning. However, if my day is spent in the online pharmacy based in Leicester, then I will treat myself to an almond croissant and coffee after the train journey there.

My place of work flexes between the online pharmacy in Leicester, Boots’ Nottingham support center and a day or two at home. I live really close to the Nottingham office and I enjoy seeing a lot of my operations, pharmacy and digital team members in person.

What I love best about my job is that it allows me to make a difference. When I worked in stores as a dispenser, patient care was at the forefront of each day. I bring that thinking to my job in the support office, ensuring that what I do services team members and patients in the best way possible. 

This is a blessing because the scope of my role is rather massive. I build and review requirements for technical developments, find efficiencies for pharmacy processes and write communications for stores when changes or updates need to be shared. I also handle project management for my areas of accountability and analyse data to discern what improvements are needed to help with KPIs and managing stakeholder expectations. All I can say is no two days are the same.

Luckily, my team is resilient. Working with changing business priorities and structures hasn’t phased us, and if things aren’t quite going to plan, we have each other. We support each other to problem solve, find different avenues, talk it out if we need to and then move on. I love that my small team is made up of four very different personalities. Rather than seeing that as a barrier, I use it to get different opinions and viewpoints on things both at work and at home.  

Recently, I’ve attended sessions with WBA’s business resource group called REACH, which stands for Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage. Its mission is centered on promoting inclusivity across WBA. The meetings came up in the diary on the back of South Asian Heritage Month last year. Being of South Asian heritage and a first-generation Bangladeshi, it caught my eye. I’d never really heard about this observance and hadn’t seen anything like this at Boots before so I wanted to attend. I learned that some of the colleagues I’d known for years had such wide and varying backgrounds. Some of the leaders spoke about their experiences throughout their careers at Boots, and about adversities they had overcome.

Quadri and son at Grand Canyon

Quadri and her son, Hamdan, at the Grand Canyon.

I am passionate about fairness and equality, and the sessions have sparked some really interesting conversations about what it has been like growing up with various societal expectations. It got us talking at home about my son’s experiences growing up versus my own, about equality and embracing who we are rather than trying to conform to societal standards, from both the Western and Asian communities.

I learned so much, even at this age, about how everyone’s experiences with identity can differ. Being part of the BRG has helped me explore more about the cultures around me, and I can hopefully encourage my colleagues and family to be a true version of themselves in all environments.

When not at work, I spend a lot of time with my friends and family. My mum lives alone and is, unfortunately, one of those people who doesn’t get the opportunity to get out and about, so I make it my priority to see her most days. Food is also at the center of meeting up with my friends. If it’s brunch, lunch or dinner, I’m there!

Lake view in Nottingham

The lake view that Quadri and her partner enjoy together at the Jubilee Campus, University of Nottingham.

My partner and I enjoy spending time relaxing and chewing the fat while watching the sunset after the work day. I also like watching films and box sets. This a great way for my partner, son and I to spend time and unwind, too. We are a small, busy family, so making time for the three of us is important. Eating meals together (prepared mainly by my partner as I am an awful cook!) is at the crux of our quality time, which we try to do about three times a week.  

I have learned so much from my years in the support center. This job in particular has taught me to be myself and be honest. I don’t need to be different version of myself and it is OK to be challenging when the intention is to do what is right for our team members and patients. Others don’t have to agree with me, and that is OK, too. If we all keep our customers and patients at the center of everything we do, WBA’s business will be here long into the future.

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