Tina Swani

Swimming with sharks and climbing Scottish peaks number among the personal achievements of the talented chief executive of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, Tina Swani.


I’ve been chief executive of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice since 2001, following a varied career in the charity sector. Before I joined the hospice, I achieved successive promotions within a range of different organisations before becoming regional director of British Red Cross. As I’ve now been CEO for more than 16 years, I keep my job fresh by taking on voluntary, non-executive roles. I’m currently a trustee at Hospice UK, a national organisation which champions hospice care, as well as a board member of Stafford and Rural Homes, an amazing charity that is the largest social landlord in Stafford.


It is my responsibility to make sure the very best support and care is available to local families living with terminal illness – wherever and whenever they need it. I truly believe that care at the end of life is just as critical as it is at the beginning and so I’m aiming to create a future where the best experience of living is available to everyone leading up to and at the end of life. In the words of someone who has experienced our hospice care: “I now feel like I am living with my illness rather than dying from it – you have given me my life back”.


At work, I want to create a future where high-quality hospice care is available to everyone who needs it – whatever their ethnicity, culture, sexuality or age. At home, it’s important that I spend as much quality time as possible with my family.


Apart from having my two wonderful sons, learning to scuba-dive was a huge accomplishment. I spent three weeks in training and although it was challenging, having the opportunity to swim with sharks and manta rays 20 feet below sea level was a fantastic experience. I love taking on the seemingly impossible and scuba diving taught me how to thrive and survive in a compromising situation.


Spend quality time with the elders in your family. I wish I had spent more time with my grandmother – I loved her dearly but always found myself busy juggling a family and a career. Now, I make sure I cherish the time with my own parents.


I was born in here and grew up in Northfield and so to me, Birmingham means family. The city is also at the heart of the country and economy, and it has a major influence both nationally and internationally. It is a centre of excellence for education, culture, arts and health.


I never seem to have much downtime as I love my work so much. When I do have enough discipline to get into a routine of yoga though, I have found that I am sharper and much more able to take big challenges in my stride. I also love to travel and experience different ways of life, both locally and abroad. One of the most inspirational places that I have ever visited is the top of a munro, which is a 3,000ft peak in Scotland – the mountains and the lochs are just beautiful.