Podcast #5 Patsy Richardson: Kidney Transplant to Career Relaunch

Comeback Girl podcast with Patsy Richardson on Career after Ill Health
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Coming back to work after a career break can be tough but what about if you have to find a kidney donor, endure a transplant and brain surgery first? Patsy Richardson shares how she went from kidney transplant to career relaunch in Podcast #5.

If you meet Patsy Richardson today, she is a pink-cheeked, talented property entrepreneur who faced head on the psychological burdens that hold us back, ill or not.

From kidney transplant to career relaunch

We can all benefit from her lessons… even if our challenges don’t feel like they are on the same scale as hers. Patsy was a global strategy director for a large FMCG. Constant business travel and no personal life or self-care. Patsy had polycystic kidney disease (PKD) but finally she was told to look for a kidney donor.

Lean into the Problem

Counterintuitively, Patsy faced her challenge head-on. Two friends and two family members came forward. She was blown away by what happened when she asked for help. However by 2012, no one was compatible so she needed eight hours’ dialysis a day. The big job had to go.

Gaining Resilience

This native Zimbabwean learned a new level of resilience fast. She took herself out to lunch; reached out to friends and only stayed connected to those who poured into her. As we said on the podcast, “mood hoovers” were out. She fed her brain with rich books and indulged her secret passion of home design; mustering the energy each day only to watch “Homes under the Hammer”. Big lesson here; honour your passions! Always..

Celebrate the Smallest Milestones

Meanwhile, a brain aneurysm was detected (a complication of PKD) so she sought a surgeon prepared to  perform brain surgery on a patient in kidney failure.  Patsy celebrated her progress with a party. I was there and it was a glorious sunny pub garden event full of hope, relief and community. As so often the way; her buoyancy through this trauma attracted others like a moth to a flame.

A few months after this a friend at church Colin, miraculously, Colin came as close a match to Patsy’s DNA as a parent to a child and the transplant was performed in October 2013.

From Death’s Door to Entrepreneur

Once she had regained full health, Patsy refused to compromise on what she filled her days with. The strategy job in the office was out. She had to do what she loved. From kidney transplant to career relaunch followed an intentional, strategic path for Patsy.

Thinking back to her fascination as an 8 yr-old with houses and her recent obsession with Homes under the Hammer, she chose property development. She revamps land that is unused with no planning permission. She says she is still developing her core strategy. Process not perfection!

Bringing Life Lessons Back to Her Career

1) On networking (vital in the property industry): she simply forced herself to get to events, tell her story and rely on people to give her a chance.

2) On resilience: she says it is innate and learned, phew!  to She is fond of Von Moltke’s quote ”No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy” i.e. you have to adapt, change tack and pivot.

3) On anxiety: she had no choice but to live in the day and go one step at a time. Even at the point when her kidney went into failure; she held onto poetic, Churchillian and bible verses that comforted her.

4) On health: treasure it. Make yourself strong! Patsy now loves pilates and weight training. Strength not skinniness gives her overall confidence and a feeling of robustness as she plays the property industry; still very much a male domain.

5) On time management: working alone requires disclipline;  days chunk into hourly objectives and apps like: Mile IQ (tracks mileage)  Moneydance(personal budget manager)Trello (to do list) Pipedrive(project management) help Patsy focus further.

Clearly, as for all of us, work-life balance is at a premium. Patsy knows that every day counts and from one Comeback Girl to another, her message is that it’s imperative to do something that makes you proud when each day counts so much. Just keep moving towards your goals, even if the effort seems microscopic against the desired result. Preaching to myself here…

How to donate organs (be sure to tell your loved ones you’ve done it!)


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