For this special episode of the EMEA Recruitment podcast, to mark one year of our partnership with Operation Smile, we were joined by Dr. Lara Watson and Dr. Priya Chadha, surgical trainees in maxillofacial and plastic surgery respectively, Founders of Acquisition Aesthetics, and Business Ambassadors for Operation Smile.
“We agreed that our collective ambition was to try and support smiles.”
Paul Toms spoke to Lara and Priya amongst their incredibly busy schedules. Lara, for instance, joined us from the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, the UK, where she treats patients with head and neck cancer. But it’s our relationship with Operation Smile that connected Lara and Priya with Paul.
Lara explains how both her and Priya’s careers have paralleled each other’s, due to their shared interests and ambitions. Around seven years ago, they set up Acquisition Aesthetics together, a training academy in aesthetics medicine. For them, it’s the perfect balance between the function of science and the artistry of beauty.
Last year, Operation Smile reached out to them, highlighting the synergy between Lara and Priya’s work in aesthetic medicine with the mission of the charity. Although aesthetics can often be confused with putting on a mask, Lara believes that deformity can take a person’s sense of identity away from them, but she feels she gives back to the patient a face that they feel is theirs.
They jumped at the opportunity to unite with Operation Smile, to raise awareness amongst healthcare professionals and their customers.
Lara quickly knew that surgery was the route for her. In head and neck surgery, she has found that the correction of deformity and restoration of function is limitless, and aesthetics is a “huge part of that”. She takes pride in her work and the impact it can have on someone’s confidence; seeing a patient’s response never gets boring.
While it’s a hugely rewarding career, Paul asks Priya to explain the business model of Acquisition Aesthetics. Their initial idea has bloomed into something that neither Lara nor Priya expected; they were recently awarded the Best Training Academy of the Year prize at the Aesthetics Awards 2021. But they’re not businesspeople interested in the largest profits. In fact, their business model hasn’t always worked financially.
However, providing a learning platform delivered by two surgeons is quite unique. It means that everyone going out with the Acquisition Aesthetics stamp is competent and confident in their work. Lara and Priya took their own learnings from being “left in the lurch” early in their careers with a desire to increase safety in the industry to create the business.
Putting their educational material into practice was the most challenging part of the journey, but Lara and Priya brought in people with business backgrounds to support them.
As surgeons, mothers and now businesspeople, Paul asks how Lara and Priya fit it all into their day. It’s their support network that is a safety net for them, as well as recognising your limitations as human beings. They realised that they needed a team of invested people around them, who were also passionate about the cause.
It’s taken years to get to this point, but Lara feels they’ve found balance and compromise in their relationship. Priya feels incredibly fortunate to share a strong working ethos and goals with Lara, and they’ve learnt a lot from each other along the way. Lara compares their relationship to a marriage, in which they require an unconditional commitment to each other. Their shared dream is what keeps everything spinning, she explains.
But in a very male-dominated career, Lara and Priya have both faced difficulties. Lara is committed to understanding why women tend to undergrade themselves and what we can do to change it. Priya, too, wants to shout louder about the issues that still exist in society.
She is also passionate about her work in aesthetics and explains how tweaks to her own appearance have given her “immeasurable” confidence. Bringing the conversation back to the partnership with Operation Smile, Priya explains why the confidence Paul gained through his cleft surgery is personal to him.
We end the episode on a jovial note, with Lara and Priya revealing the last thing that made them smile – Lara’s was unfortunately too inappropriate for the podcast!
If you’re looking for a specific part of the episode, use the timestamps below:
01:05: Keeping busy in surgery 02:04: A collective ambition to support smiles 07:23: Why Lara chose head and neck surgery 12:30: The business model of Acquisition Aesthetics 22:00: Managing the hours in a day 25:42: Finding synergy in their relationship 30:07: What’s in the pipeline? 35:30: Advice for future female leaders 41:54: Removing the barriers women are faced with 45:08: Empowering people to use their emotions 48:20: Giving people the gift of confidence 53:26: The last thing that made Lara and Priya smile 56:04: How to reach out to them
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Operation Smile for being the official partner of the EMEA Recruitment podcast for over one year! We’re delighted to be able to raise awareness and funds for the work Operation Smile’s volunteers do around the world. If you’d like to support Operation Smile, you can donate here: https://www.emearecruitment.com/operation-smile
The EMEA Recruitment podcast is hosted by Paul Toms, our Founder, and Rose Jinks, our Senior Marketing Executive.