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Reflections on working at Bupa

Date: 13 Mar 2024

On International Women’s Day, we caught up with a BVAC NZ mother-daughter duo, Barbara (Barb) Garbutt, Midlands 1 Regional Operations Manager and Claire Naumann, Transformation Lead, for their reflections and advice on achieving fulfilment in their careers.

Why did you join Bupa?

Barb: I’d spent all my NZ career in the public health system – many years in senior roles directing the delivery of Older Persons’ Health Services, Acute Medicine and Allied Health. I wanted to move to a values-driven and customer-centric organisation. Historically, I reported to a Chief Operating Officer who became BVAC NZ’s Managing Director. She sang the praises of Bupa and encouraged me to think about my transferable skills. I was lucky to be approached by Bupa for fixed term work which quickly transitioned to the role I have today.

Claire: I came to do project work with Bupa right back in 2018 and was lucky enough to continue in various project roles. I just love the people, the culture and the purpose here so when an opportunity came up to join the transformation project, I absolutely jumped at it.

What were some challenges you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?

Barb: Starting life in New Zealand after coming from the UK was not without challenge. I had worked in a senior clinical leadership role and arrived in NZ to work as an RN. Navigating new systems and processes while proving my worth were challenging but also motivating.

I have been lucky to have had many mentors during my career, but two women in recent years, enabled me and believed in me and my abilities. We were all immigrants from the UK and quickly formed a strong connection. Both women taught me to learn from experience, rethink and test what I had learnt and seen, and encouraged me to believe in myself and my skills.

Claire: So many! I’m an eternal optimist and strongly believe that we grow and learn from our mistakes. This is particularly relevant in project management. Failings or challenges in projects put you in a much better position for the next project with a clearer idea of risks to plan for and successes to apply.

What is your advice for balancing work and home?

Barb: Be disciplined about work time and home time. Find something that helps you switch from work to home mode. I use the drive home to help me do this. Having a supportive and loving family helps me immensely. Without their support I could not have achieved what I have.

Claire: I will forever be grateful for the flexible working approach that Bupa NZ has provided for me and my family. With two young daughters, I work part-time and primarily remotely and initially worried that I would feel disconnected to colleagues and the broader organisation. This couldn’t be further from the truth – the leadership team created a supportive environment where I was able to return to work early on after having my youngest daughter (she would often be sleeping away in the front pack while I was on Teams meetings!) I get to be present for my girls, fulfilled in doing work that I love and set an example for them of what a balanced and rewarding career can look like. When people ask my 7-year-old what Mummy does for a job she proudly replies, “She does Bupa”.

What advice would you give to women at Bupa?


  • Find role models or mentors in life who inspire you. Keep watching and learning from them.
  • Be confident in your skills and competence and remain authentic.
  • Be empathetic, courageous and innovative.
  • Be prepared to learn from others.
  • Set yourself goals and work hard to achieve them.


Claire: The aspects of femininity that may have historically hindered women’s career progression are in fact our strengths and I think our superpower! Working mums can prioritise and multi-task like no one else I know. Our broader responsibilities around caring for family members equip us with empathy and the ability to adapt interactions with people considering what is going on for them and how they are feeling about a new initiative or part of their role.

What’s special about being a woman working at Bupa?

Barb:  My work and the success of my team defines me often, but I truly value the wider opportunities Bupa has given me within the business recognising my skills and background and providing me opportunity to use them. I enjoy the collaboration and level playing field Bupa offers me.

Claire: I love the collegiality, where our teams look to build each other up, support each other where there are challenges and acknowledge and celebrate each other’s strengths, vast and varied experiences and diverse approach.

What’s unique about you as a mother and daughter working in the same organisation?

Claire: It’s not our first time! My first role when I returned home from London was at Waikato Hospital where we were working on a new hospital build. The sponsor for the Older Persons facility and Rehab project was my Mum! I still recall walking into COO direct report meetings and panicking if the only chair available in the room was the one next to my mum for fear of what others would think! 12 years on from that and here we are working in the same organisation again (and I’m very proud to find a chair next to her).

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