Business Wisdom From Sarah McMickan, CEO Of Beechfield Care Group

Business wisdom from the desk of … SARAH MCMICKAN, CEO of Beechfield Care Group


After qualifying as a nurse, Sarah McMickan worked in various roles across the public, private and voluntary sectors with older persons, in acute care and in maternity services. She has held many nursing and general management roles to date, holds an MsC in Healthcare Management from RCSI and is an Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College, Dublin. She has been CEO at Beechfield Care Group for six months.

Describe your role:

I am responsible for the running of Beechfield Care Group which employs almost 300 staff and comprises two companies: Beechfield Nursing Home Group and Beechfield Private Homecare. We offer a complete care pathway for our clients, from a couple of hours of companionship to full-time home or residential care in one of our three Dublin facilities.

Your company’s business priorities for 2016?

We want to continue to deliver the highest standard of care to our residents, clients and their families.

Highlights and challenges during your tenure?

When you’re providing care, you are constantly engaging with the service user. Working with my experienced management team we develop our services further with innovative ideas. With our residents and their families’ input, we are always striving to improve our services.

Did anything in your early life experience or family background influence your journey to
your current role?

My father was a hospital architect and throughout my childhood my parents encouraged me to be focused and driven. I moved into a management pathway early on in my career and have always been supported by my husband and family throughout this journey

An accomplishment you are proud of?

Professionally, I am proud of being able to use the training and skills I developed as a nurse to build a diverse and interesting career path. In the last couple of years, as I transitioned from nursing management to general and business management roles, I have still frequently referenced my clinical experience. It has been an exciting and diverse learning curve.

How do you approach difficult situations?

Head on. I will always analyse the events that led to the situation and then look to finding
a solution. If in doubt I will sleep on it, and discuss with a colleague to get an objective view.

Which is the most useful way to engage clients or suppliers?

Face-to-face meetings are preferable. People like to meet the human face behind  healthcare – it helps to reassure them that they are clinically focused and have empathy, kindness and compassion. The human touch and personal involvement is very important in delivering care.

What keeps you awake at night?

I’m fortunate that I generally sleep very well. If I find something is weighing heavily on
my mind, I write it down and approach it the following morning when I’m not so reactive.

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

Usually it takes me about 45 minutes, though I can be quicker when required.

What is one characteristic a business leader should possess?

Bravery. You have to believe in yourself, your product and your team. It’s important to try and if you fail – go back and try again. As you develop in your role, you get more confident in this area.

Three pieces of advice you might give to women who aspire to be in leadership roles?

Go for it and enjoy the challenge. Be honest, remain true to yourself and never be afraid
to positively reinforce those around you. Always reflect – no one is perfect, but self-awareness is essential. Having a coach, someone who will challenge and support you, is helpful.


1. STRONG POINTS: I am determined, resilient, energetic and action- and solution-focused.

2. WEAKNESSES: Sometimes I’m so action-focused that I have to remind myself to consider the impact this has on my team.

3. LOOKING THE BUSINESS: I prefer a simple, well-cut dress to a suit. I think that clothes should feel like a second skin. Heels are an absolute essential for me.

4. WORK/LIFE BALANCE: It’s important to have family time with my husband and two adult sons. I enjoy horseriding, walking and meals out with friends. 5. planning for the future I’ve always contributed to a pension. I try to live in the present and not get too bogged down with what’s going to happen down the line.

This article appeared in a previous issue, for more features like this, don’t miss our June issue, out Thursday June 2.

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