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Martin Hindle, BPharm 1966 and MSc Industrial Administration 1970

Chairman and Non-Exec Director in National and Regional Health Sector

Martin Hindle, BPharm 1966 and MSc Industrial Administration 1970
  • One of the first BPharm graduates of the University of Bradford in 1966
  • MSc Industrial Administration from the School of Management in 1970
  • Progressed in to roles as Chairman and CEO for leading firms in the pharmaceutical industry
  • Currently holds a portfolio of senior, regional and national roles in both the public and private healthcare sectors
  • Member of the University of Bradford School of Management's International Advisory Board

For Martin Hindle, it has always been about starting from a sound base and working your way up. A simple grounded philosophy of a driven Yorkshireman. A philosophy that has served him well since embarking on a career in the Pharmaceutical industry after graduating from two Bradford degree programmes (BPharm 1966 and MSc Industrial Administration 1970); an educational experience he remains forever grateful for.

 “The University of Bradford created the foundation for the rest of my professional life"

From graduate to CEO

In the space of a decade after completing his Bradford studies Martin had worked his way up the Pharmaceutical industry ladder starting out as a Medical Representative and progressing to positions as Marketing Director, Chairman and CEO of a French organisation, and CEO for the Nordic Region at Rhone Poulenc Pharma Norden, in Denmark.

“I went to France and was a Marketing Director where I had a responsibility for the marketing team and the sales team of 120 medical representatives and there of course I had to learn the French language as all the business was dealt with in French. It was a cultural change as well, you cannot sit in a UK office and pretend you understand the world; you have to get out there and expand your career and broaden your experience in what is an international industry (pharmaceutical industry).”

A role as President Director General for Fisons in France for three years and a 12 year stint as Global Commercial Director at Fisons Pharmaceutical division (UK) were to follow however Martin’s philosophy of staying grounded remained constant throughout. One of the keys to his success he says was taking time, away from his leadership role, to engage with and understand the realities of front line work.

“That has always been my position in life, the only way you can understand an organisation is actually being involved in the front line with the customer. When I was Chairman and Chief Executive of a French organisation I actually also remained as a medical representative in the south west and Lyon so I would actually turn up in medical surgeries with my card to ensure I understood the medical product selling interface that the representative had with our customers.  From the leadership of the company I made sure I was there and understood the front line issues, I would also sit on the packaging lines of the production organisation and again you have to understand the issues there and be able to deal with the Trade Unions and Ministers and so on.”

Fast forward 20 years, and almost 50 since Harold Wilson had presented him his first degree, Martin currently holds a portfolio of senior, regional and national advisory and director level roles in both the public and private healthcare sectors. A give and take approach in gaining personal satisfaction and from contributing to the wider public benefit is what continues to drive him.

“My family and friends often say ‘why do you want to keep on doing this stuff’”, he says with a smile. 

“It is all about finding roles that give satisfaction to me but importantly, I can actually use the skills and experience I’ve gained, and make a contribution to the public benefit. It has to be a portfolio where you think and ask yourself, ‘am I adding value? I always seek the views of others which is another lesson learned in corporate life. Unless you feel you are adding value and can actually test that then you risk wasting everybody’s time including your own.”

Martin is Chair at Porton Biopharma, Chairman at the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network, and holds non-executive director positions at Public Health England (PHE) and the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Furthermore he remains an active alumnus of the University sitting on the International Advisory Board of the School of Management at Bradford thereby seeking to give back to the place where it all began.

“I have a great sense of loyalty to the University of Bradford, I am a Yorkshireman by background, and I would like to see my University succeed.“

Pharmacy and Business; a perfect combination

Initially interested in studying veterinary medicine Martin decided it was pharmacy he would pursue and spent a year working for Boots prior to commencing studies at Bradford in 1963. He was one of the first to receive a BPharm degree from the University shortly after it received its charter in 1966. Equipped with a Bachelors in Pharmacy and membership of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Martin decided to continue his studies, rather than enter practice, embarking on a postgraduate diploma in Industrial Administration which he topped up to get an MSc. It proved to be an inspired decision.

"Educationally, I was a rare combination; there weren’t any pharmacists, at that time, who went on to get a further degree in Business Studies particularly with marketing as the principle subject. Although there were many places available in classical pharmacy, either in a community or hospital pharmacy, I was always attracted to the industry and that combination was ideal. After the MSc I was offered a place in two international Pharmaceutical companies, and the reason they were attracted to my profile, was exactly that combination. They were looking for Product Managers to join their organisations so I fitted into that category. Bradford offered to me the ideal combination of degrees in fact.”

The combination worked in Martin’s favour later on when he was head-hunted to the role of CEO of Cable and Wireless Nautec – a switch from pharmaceuticals to telecommunications aided by his broad business knowledge gained at Bradford as Martin explains;

“You see the learning at Bradford was very beneficial because, alongside the pharmaceutical knowledge, I had the principals of good management practice, planning, organisational development and so on were not unique to the pharmaceutical industry, and so to be able to actually use these skills and knowledge gained across a variety of companies was fundamental.”

Healthcare challenges for Britain

He swapped the private for the public sector when he was head-hunted for the role of Chairman of the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust in 2007 and after leaving in 2013 remains as a Member of the Council at the University of Leicester. With considerable knowledge and experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry and his involvement in senior level work of the NHS and Public Health England Martin is well placed to talk about the major health challenges facing Britain including an ageing population. For Martin the challenges are multiple and complex in nature. He highlights key challenges around early diagnosis and technological innovation and the relative impacts these can have to the healthcare burden.

“Well there are some obvious issues, one is that of an aging population. Quite clearly the demands on the national health services will be significant and can only increase. Technology and innovation will clearly add to the better diagnosis and treatment of patients. So, as you get better diagnosis, new medicines, better surgical techniques then you’re potentially adding to the longevity of the patient population and the possibility of increased numbers of patients presenting with multiple pathologies later in life."

By giving the example of two major issues such as diabetes and obesity in the UK, Martin emphasises the importance of early preventative intervention coupled with educational programmes. Bringing together contributions from a range of key stakeholders will bring about both health and economic benefits. 

“Early diagnosis and preventative programmes for diabetes can reap significant and major rewards by preventing people risking, for example coronary heart disease and the need for expensive hospital treatment for this and other significant impacts of the disease. So early diagnosis, and intervention, will bring significant patient benefits and economic benefits." 

“If you look at obesity, clearly its education and awareness that is the major challenge. athere is consideration by the Government of the obesity prevention programme it wishes to institute. We have some quick clear views as to where the problems are, through self-induced activities such as smoking, over eating, sugar, alcohol, lack of exercise, and the early understanding of these elements. But it’s not just the health professionals who need to be involved with this, it’s actually looking at social sciences, looking at psychologists, it’s a whole package looking at the involvement of local authorities and national bodies. So, it’s a huge, multi-faceted, national programme that has to be undertaken. Because of the increasing demands we’ve talked about, and the limited resource to actually apply to that, early education and early intervention are both critical.”

Besides the challenges of early intervention and technological innovation, according to Martin it’s the on the ground collaboration and partnership working that presents the biggest challenge and benefits.

“Through targeted innovation, we can improve diagnosis and surgical and medical interventions.  The great challenge is the application of programmes through collaborative working across the system to make the national dollar work most effectively on the health and wellbeing agenda."

In light of the challenges discussed Martin sees the vision of the University of Bradford, and in particular its key academic themes around advanced healthcare, innovative engineering and sustainable societies, as in keeping with the University’s technological roots and working truly towards adding value to today’s society.

“I sat next to the Vice-Chancellor at a dinner at the University recently and I support entirely his ambition around the digitalisation of health and technological advancement. I think Professor Brian Cantor has a great vision for the University which is entirely grounded and appropriate to the next stage of its development”

50 Years of the University of Bradford

Studying at Bradford at the very beginning and during its early years as a University, Martin remains connected with Bradford as a member of the School of Management’s International Advisory Board. He has fond memories of his time as a student and takes great pleasure in how the Bradford story has developed over the last 50 years.

“I very much enjoyed my time at Bradford. I captained the pharmacy faculty sevens and lost one of my teeth as a consequence of doing that, I played Rugby in the thirds, I was actually on the door when Pink Floyd gave one of their concerts - it was a great time no doubt about that. I think there is pragmatism about Bradford that I think comes from the area in which it is founded. There is in the University a grittiness, determination, pragmatism, results-orientation and a great vision."

"It was always internationally sound and has adapted well to the population it serves. Today, the University expands its international outlook and vision whilst being very much grounded in today’s reality – and that’s extremely positive.”

What of Bradford’s future? Martin hopes to continue being engaged as a member of the Bradford family with his role on the School of Management’s Advisory Board and is optimistic of seeing the institution go from strength to strength.

“I see, in summary, a University that gave me my foundation for the future and I have had a very enjoyable professional life – thank you to Bradford. Since those days, I have seen the University grow and develop and I am honoured to be on the International Advisory Board for the School of Management and offer what modest support I can to that particular group. I believe that the School of Management, and the University have a great opportunity to grow and develop further. Under the VC’s leadership, I believe that will be achieved.”


Published November 2015