Govindan, or Raghu as he prefers to be called, was born in Madras (now known as Chenai) in South India in 1967 to a middle class family. He was one of six children, his father was a civil servant and his mother was a housewife.
Raghu completed his medical training in India and got married. He was keen to further his training and wanted to learn about the Western healthcare system. His specialty was anaesthesia and he wanted to expand into intensive care.
The opportunity came up a little sooner than he was expecting, so in 1995, at the age of 27, Raghu left his pregnant wife at home and travelled to the UK with £300 spending money. He had managed to secure a three-month clinical attachment at Kings Lynn Hospital, then he joined Macclesfield as an SHO before moving to a hospital in Luton for a year.
He applied for the West Midlands Deanery rotation and completed his specialist training between 1997 and 2002 to become a registrar. He also spent a year completing cardiac training at Yale University in 2000.
Raghu admits that he found moving to the UK hard at first. His wife wasn’t able to join him until a year later, when their son was nearly one. He found the communication and culture very difficult as he was shy, but despite this, he always felt welcome.
He is a keen advocate of BME staff and is enthusiastic about giving them a voice and making changes so that the workforce is more equitable and representative of the communities the Trust serves.
He said: “Some areas were more difficult to work in than others. I don’t necessarily think it was discrimination, but different hierarchies and approaches to teams.
Sometimes I felt isolated as a member of BME staff and it took me a while to understand the needs of others when working together.
“During selection processes, I felt like I needed to be 10 steps ahead. Competition was fierce for training places but I don’t really feel that it was equitable. I had to excel to progress and I think I often did much more than was needed.
“Discrimination is more common now – in fact I don’t even think it is discrimination, I think it’s an unconscious bias. It’s a fear of other nationalities coming into the UK to work.”
Raghu wants to see more development opportunities and more encouragement into senior management roles.
“I strongly believe that the path to success is through hard-work, persistence and perseverance. Giving up is not an option.”