Dr Shazia Malik
Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

Dr Shazia Malik

Today we meet Dr Shazia Malik, Consultant Obestrician and Gynaecologist. We ask Shazia, mum of 2 about her career and how she manages that alongside her family life.

BoardroomMum Can you please tell me a little bit about yourself?

Dr Shazia Malik Having grown up in the North of England, I went to Liverpool to study medicine so that I could be near home. I qualified from Liverpool University with honours in my medical degree (a rarity in those days), and the Gold Medal in Obstetrics & Gynaecology. After a couple of years of training, I decided to spread my wings and got the specialist training registrar rotation in Cambridge. Whilst there I got an MRC funded research fellow post to work towards a PhD looking at blood vessel development in women with heavy periods and/or heavy endometriosis. Having finished my general training in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, I got the subspeciality training post in reproductive medicine at UCH London, so I am now a subspecialist in this field r. This is great as it covers such diverse specialties including fertility, fibroids, PCOS, menopause, miscarriage, endometriosis and varied open and keyhole surgery. I also spent time specialising in gynaecological ultrasound. I can take patients through from conception to birth and beyond, which is such a joy and privilege to do.

I have a keen interest in helping youngsters from deprived backgrounds as my family have been active in community work for many years – so it’s something I have always done. After the terrorist attacks of 7/7 in London I sat on a Home Office taskforce looking at extremism, and educational outcomes in ethnic minorities, and did some work with the Foreign Office in this area too.

BoardroomMum Can you please provide some information on your career to this point?

Dr Shazia Malik I have followed a traditional route in my training having done the long unbroken hours of on-call as a junior doctor. I have always believed that one should try to follow one’s aspirations whatever the odds, and that hard work and persistence win out in the end. So when I got the training rotation in Cambridge, I knew no-one there but prepared hard for my interview. I was lucky whilst in Cambridge to have the support of a well-known senior Consultant and was able to get a research post in a world-famous research group. I then decided to become a subspecialist which only 5% of trainees become, and having researched the posts applied only for University College Hospital. It was a shock to me not to be short-listed for the post however! So I arranged to meet the Consultant in charge and had an informal chat (a probing interview in reality). That secured me a place on the shortlist, and ultimately the training post. Whilst there on my days off I used to go to a well-known gynaecology scanning unit to get expertise in that area as I love to scan.

Once my training was complete it wasn’t easy to get a permanent post in London. I undertook a locum Consultant post in a central London teaching hospital for a year, working day and night. But as a male colleague informed me, my biggest problems were in his words ‘being talented, single and attractive’ which are not a good combination. So that was that. I went on to get married and pursue IVF in a private clinic and have my first daughter. But I really wanted to give back something to the NHS and eventually took up a permanent NHS post when my second daughter was 6 months old.

BoardroomMum Can you tell us about your current role?

Dr Shazia Malik I am a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist. My NHS practice is based in North London where I am the lead Consultant for early pregnancy and emergency Gynaecology, and I also maintain a private Obstetric and ynaecology practice at The Portland Hospital and Princess Grace Hospitals. I am also an Honorary Consultant at UCH and St Barts where I maintain my fertility specialism, and will be using this to develop the fertility services for NHS patients in North London , which I am really excited about.

BoardroomMum Were you clear on what you wanted to do as a career?

Dr Shazia Malik Coming from a family of medics, (my parents were both local GP’ s and both of my brothers became doctors) medicine was a career I was interested in right from the start. Obstetrics and Gynaecology were areas I wished to specialise in, particularly after I received a gold medal at university. I decided to do it for a year as a junior doctor, and was hooked. However it was as a registrar that I became clear on which area (reproductive medicine) really excited me – and it was then that I decided to pursue it at subspeciality level. But I have always loved looking after women during pregnancy and birth too, and am fortunate that I can maintain that side of my practice.

BoardroomMum How many children do you have?

Dr Shazia Malik I have 2 daughters, who are nearly 6 (Zahra), and nearly 4 (Aliyah)

BoardroomMum How do you combine career with family life?

Dr Shazia Malik With two young daughters, both aged 4 and 6 and a barrister husband, it can feel like I am on the edge of my seat a lot of the time. With good planning, clear roles and making time for family life – a sensible balance can be achieved. You just need to set clear boundaries, have a collective objective and ensure family time really is family time. Unless I am called to a delivery, weekends are sacrosanct – which means working late into the night during the week. We have made a conscious decision to live near my private practice base, so that when I am called for deliveries, I am able to minimize the time that I am away from home, and my husband and children can hop over and we can catch a quick meal, or at least a hug and a kiss!

BoardroomMum What can we do for more women to reach these levels/fulfil their potential?

Dr Shazia Malik I have spent time mentoring young girls at schools in deprived areas of London because I feel passionately that we need to foster, harness and nurture dreams and ambition at a young age. To encourage,advise and support girls who would not otherwise have access to women like myself means that suddenly their self belief allows them to strive for better results and go to college or university. I have also spent time with their parents because without support at home, it’s an even bigger mountain to climb.

I also support foundations where young professionals spend time with mentors like me to look at their career plans, business and other research ideas, and community initiatives. We can advise, encourage and often put them in contact with people in the fields of health, politics or social reform that they cannot otherwise gain access to.

In medicine the same applies – mentoring, role modeling and finding ways to break through barriers is crucial to help others achieve their true potential. And there’s nothing like sharing what I have learnt from my mistakes along the way!

BoardroomMum Any tips or recommendations for other women out there who wish to pursue their career ambitions and aspirations?

Dr Shazia Malik Having clear goals, timelines and a roadmap on how to achieve your aspirations is essential. And finding a mentor (or two) that you respect, admire and trust as early as possible is priceless.

Also, humility and integrity along the way gets you much further in the end I think. Within professions, it is amazing how old faces pop up again and again – I think that helping others always benefits you in some way in my experience. And people love to talk!

But more than anything, realistic self-belief, persistence and thinking outside the box always win out in the end.

BoardroomMum Would you have done anything differently?

Dr Shazia Malik I would have travelled more during my training

BoardroomMum What are your plans personally and professionally?

Dr Shazia Malik Professionally I would like to set up and deliver a bespoke service for women that starts from conception to birth and throughout their lives. When I can make time, I plan to develop a London-wide initiative to address the health inequalities of different groups of women in the capital. Personally – I want to see the Amazon rain forest before it disappears. And I would like to spend more time with my daughters doing their homework and making a mess in the kitchen and garden!

BoardroomMum Thank you so much for your time Shazia. We at www.boardroommum.com wish you every continued success.