Few disciplines in dentistry divide clinicians like endodontics, but Asad Rahman knew it was his calling by year three of dental school.

In this week’s episode, Asad talks about falling in love with endodontics, the road to expertise and becoming qualified to the hilt as an antidote to imposter syndrome.

Asad also chats about his role with the Portman group, in which he straddles the corporate and clinical worlds, and his journey to mastering the business aspects of the profession by squeezing study for an MBA into a punishing work schedule.



In This Episode

02.06 – Backstory, determination and mindset

09.28 – Race

11.12 – First job

16.40 – Advice to young dentists

24.11 – Choosing and training for endodontics

33.35 – Anaesthesia and sedation

36.01 – Latest developments

38.27 – Hero-dontics

41.02 – Pricing strategies

45.08 – Corporate and clinical leadership

01.00.09 – Psychometric testing

01.03.26 – Family life

01.09.56 – Black box thinking

01.27.53 – Portman

01.40.29 – Reflections on dad

01.43.52 – Fantasy dinner party

01.46.53 – Last days and legacy


About Asad Rahman 

Dr Asad Rahman graduated from the University of Leeds in 2015 and has devoted himself to postgraduate study alongside clinical practice in endodontics.  

He has undertaken MJDF and MFDS qualifications to gain membership in the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. He has also completed a year-long Post Graduate Certificate in clinical conscious sedation at the University of Bristol. 

In 2020, Asad graduated from the University of Birmingham with a two-year postgraduate diploma in restorative dentistry.

He is currently studying for master’s degrees in endodontics and business administration.

My view on that is it’s very, very fine balance because imposter syndrome can actually hold you back if you’re not kind of progressing. But also you want to do it from a safe viewpoint. Again, give patients the best service. So my kind of simple tips to anyone wanting to start doing more endo is firstly take on referrals from 2 or 3 very close people, close friends or colleagues who you know, you trust. Explain to them exactly what level you’re at. They show you the x rays before you even see the patients. There’s no kind of awkwardness, etcetera, and slowly build your confidence. And if you are, you then do have to push yourself. And that’s where mentors come in. So sharing certain cases with mentors. So I remember when I did my first retreatment in practice and it was on a patient who I’d known as a GDP for 4 or 5 years and we kind of safer space. Safer space. Exactly. So so those are the two, 2 or 3 kind of key things. If anyone’s looking to push more into any special interest or specialism, let’s say in practice.

This is Dental Leaders the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts, Payman, Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Dr. Assad Rahman onto the podcast. Assad had a meteoric career insomuch as he’s done lots and lots of post-grad. He’s onto his fifth qualification, which is now an MBA dentist with special interest in Endodontics and now a clinical lead at Portman who’ve just merged with Dentex and sort of 400 practices in that little stable as as head of two of those divisions. So lovely to have you, buddy.

Hi, Payman. Hi, everyone. Lovely to be here.

It’s really nice to have you, man. I think I’m going to start with you. Where did you grow up?

So I was born in Doncaster, but my dad was training as an orthopaedic surgeon at the time, so we travelled around, moved around quite a bit and eventually when I was about 5 or 6, settled in Birmingham and that’s where I grew up. And often a lot of people say I don’t have the Birmingham accent until I say Birmingham and then it comes out. So yeah, grew up there and then but I always had this kind of affiliation with Yorkshire and then as soon as I could go to university I ended up in Yorkshire and kind of ended up staying up here.

Do you remember the first time you thought, I’m going to be a dentist?

Yeah, I mean, I was lucky. So I was one of those children. And to this day, I’ve never had any restorative work. I’ve recently just had my Invisalign done, but before that I had no dental treatment. So for me, going to a dentist was, I’d say, you know, a really relaxing experience. So from quite an early age I realised I wanted to do something in science and science background. My dad, my mum, both being doctors, but dentistry kind of dragged me in really from I’d say 13 or 14 when I realised I couldn’t do the long hours that medics do. So dentistry was kind of the the career for me.

What kind of a doctor is your mum?

So Mum was an anaesthetist. She retired when I was born, so my parents had me quite late. I’m the oldest of two. Yeah. Um, my mum was late 30s at the time, so she kind of retired after I was born. My dad obviously carried on working.

And as a surgeon he was he obviously didn’t see much of him as you were growing up, right?

No, very busy. He’d always make time for us on the weekends though. So whenever me and my brother, we play a lot of sports, so we play a lot of sports. And he’d always make time to come and see that. And that was the real kind of bonding we had with him on the weekends when he’d come to see our football matches, cricket matches, rugby. But during the week, yeah, very busy. And that kind of work ethos I suppose, rubbed off on me as I grew older.

What was your parents advice regarding whether to become a doctor or to become a dentist? Were they dead against you becoming a doctor or was it the opposite?

No, my parents obviously instilled certain kind of ethos, so it was hard work and it was education was very important. But I suppose if I’d gone and said, I want to do a degree in maths, let’s say, or finance or whatever, they’d have been happy with that. But like I said.

But specifically medicine, what do they say about medicine? Did they say do it or did they say don’t do it?

Well, my brother’s a doctor. Oh, really? Yeah. So he’s a he’s a doctor. He’s going to orthopaedic surgery now, So he’s becoming a surgeon.

How is your brother?

He’s 30 now, so a couple of years younger than me.

And now when you. When you compare you and your brother career choice wise, what are your reflections?

Well, obviously, I mean, I talk about this a lot when I when I see young dentists and dentistry is is a kind of a strange career in terms of we let’s say we we reach our peak or we can reach our peak very early on in our careers and let’s say we qualify 23 within 7 to 10 years, you can actually reach, especially financially, a position where you’re kind of at your peak earning. And with that brings obviously positives, negatives with other careers, especially medicine. You know, even today, junior doctors are striking. It’s kind of that slow, gradual progression, which in the past was seen as good. But in this kind of current day and age, when people want everything really quickly, I feel sometimes people struggle with with that aspect of things. So yeah, big difference in terms of kind of where I am in my career and where he is, even though he’s doing really well. He ranked number one in surgical training last year and he’s going to do his surgical training. In London, really prestigious post, but it will be still another 8 or 9 years of his training left. So yeah, big difference.

And but lifestyle wise, he’s not seeing much of his nearest and dearest now, is that right?

Definitely, yeah. Very busy. And I suppose that’s where you choose to take your career. You can. Yeah. That’s the kind of flexibility that dentistry gives you. You can choose to take career at your pace if you wanted to.

So where did you study Leeds? You said.

Leeds. Yeah, I did my undergraduate in Leeds. And what kind of.

A dental student were you?

Um, middle of the road, I’d say. I’ve always been in all my education. I’ve been kind of middle of the road and never got close to failing. Never got close to distinction, let’s say. So just a good solid student. And that was that was despite me really trying, revising hard, working hard. But I just I never can end up getting a distinction when it’s an exam or something in front of me.

So then I’m quite interested in this question of, you know, you’re right now obviously to me, when I’m looking at you, you’ve got that look in your eyes, which is like there’s a kind of remember that looking in so many of my my friend’s eyes here, there’s this sort of determination to make a difference in the world, kind of look in your eyes. And at what point did that happen? Have you always been that cat, or was there a moment when you said, God damn it, I’m going to like, do the best I could, be the best I can be, fulfil my potential.

I think. And I speak to a lot of friends about this and that’s where kind of people talk about school education, etcetera. I’ve always wanted to be the best and I’d love to get a distinction in exams etcetera, but I feel that especially GCSE or A-level exams, let’s say again, I didn’t do badly because I ended up in Dental school, but they often are geared towards a certain type of thinking in a funny sort of way. When I’m doing my graduate learning now, I’m a post graduate degrees, especially my MBA. I’m getting my best scores yet and my best marks yet. That determination, I think, comes from seeing my parents, especially my dad, from kind of his upbringing in rural Pakistan, to end up obviously in the UK and then just seeing what we saw of him throughout his career, the ups and downs that all careers have. But the continuous aspect of keeping on going is a big thing for me. Day to day we can all have struggles, but it’s the fact that we continuously must keep going on. So that’s my big ethos, I’d say.

So when when did your dad study medicine in Pakistan or here?

Yes. Yeah. Both My mum and dad studied medicine in Pakistan, then came here to do their postgraduate training with the view to eventually going back, but then kind of the NHS took them on and, and they stayed for the rest of their careers.

What about the question of like race? Did you did you did your dad complain of not getting promotions? Because that was that was I mean, now it seems like a like a crazy thing to say and we’ve come a long way. But back then, remember, that was a complaint massively so.

My dad was actually the first non-European consultant in the UK and that was in 96. So when he came over first to Ireland again, I feel so as you’re saying, we’re very lucky nowadays. Situation is completely different. And personally, for example, I’ve never had any racism either personal or kind of systematic, systematic etcetera. But my dad does mention, obviously he, he, he, he was in a time when the opportunity wasn’t there. There was a simple kind of bar on non European consultants and even sit the exam was a big kind of barrier to to pass. But as you say with time I feel like we’ve done well in the UK to get to a point where now there’s masses of equal opportunity. I was speaking at the International Women’s Day last year and the topic of diversity came up. And now, for example, if we talk about just dentistry, if you’re a prospective student from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background, you’ve got a higher chance of getting into dental school than a white student, for example. So, you know, so.

Some sort of positive discrimination?

No, I don’t there’s not been any study. Again, the percentages are very small difference wise.

But just the fact that it’s on the same graph, it’s quite interesting. Yeah, exactly.

It’s just yeah, it’s I mean, it’s kind of a full circle moment, let’s say.

Yeah, Yeah. So then tell me about your first job.

So I qualified in 2015 and I was very lucky to end up in Coventry. So as my parents from Birmingham, after doing your PhD exam that you do ranked high enough to be end up in Coventry, which is close enough to allow me to be back home, let’s say, and my trainer, their manager who I’m still in touch with.

I know many. Yeah, I know brilliant people. Brilliant people.

Yeah, great, great people still in touch with them to this day. And so Mandy was my trainer. Anoop was obviously in the other dental practice that they own and manage. I thought it was a fantastic trainer because she knew exactly when to let you kind of get on with things because when you’re a. Trainee. You have to have that kind of impetus to learn by yourself, but also do it in a safe manner and manner, as you’re saying. Fantastic experience. Trainers, you know, 15 plus years being trainers. So they knew exactly what kind of level I was at and how to push me. And then I was lucky enough that they offered me to stay on as an associate and then ended up staying with them for about three years. Oh, really? I really enjoyed that. And again, every time I speak to and I was speaking to a lot of you know, we met at the BCD conference a few weeks back and a lot of young students coming up to me and I was saying, try and stay in your practice if you can. If it’s know it’s a good practice, try and stay there. Try and see your mistakes. Try and and build your career in one practice, at least for the first 2 or 3 years before you look to move on.

It’s interesting you say that. Yeah, because remember as a PT, we used to call it I adored my practice that my boss was still one of my best friends, mentor, wonderful person. But I on purpose left that practice because I thought that it’s the opposite, right? I thought I thought I want to see something else. And it’s quite an interesting question. I mean, I think you’re right in so much as now with with the benefit of hindsight, seeing some failures would have been good. Yeah, because I moved to a whole new practice. That said, I did see another way of doing things. So you stayed there for three years. The amazing thing about Anoop and Manny is the life lessons you must have learnt from those guys because just successful humans not, you know, the wonderful relationship, wonderful practices, that’s just the way they think is just amazing. So that’s lovely, man. So then what happened after that? Why did you leave after three years?

So I think I was getting to a point where, as you’re saying.

You won’t see something else.

Yes, essentially. And there was lots of factors to it. One was I’d done a pgcert in sedation by then. I’d just started my restorative master’s at Birmingham, which I ended up doing a pgdip. And at that point I kind of wanted to transition into private dentistry. And the reason for that was I’ve always kind of my values belief system is always, you know, we’re talking earlier about wanting to do the best quality work. So nowadays when I do my clinical days, for example, I’m seeing 3 or 4 endo patients a day. And it’s about the fact that I can really focus on quality, create exceptional experiences for those 3 or 4 patients, and that’s it. So that’s what you have to focus on. And it was really just wanted to progress in my career to to a fully private practice. And I got the opportunity. It was hard to to say goodbye, but like I said, I left on good terms and still in touch with Mani Anoop, and that’s when I ended up with Portman and I joined as an associate five years ago in Malton, and as soon as I joined the practice, everyone kind of looked at me and said, We don’t like doing Endo. And I said, Well, I like doing Endo. I’d had some endo training on my restorative degree, so I started taking kind of internal referrals, doing my own endo, and then decided to formalise my endo training that way.

Oh, how interesting. So and that’s it. The rest is history. You’ve been you’ve been with Portman ever since, right? Yeah. And have you worked in any other practice? Just those two?

Yes. So I do a day of endo in a non Portman practice at the moment as well. So Mondays a do a day of render in a non Portman practice. It’s a practice five minutes away from me in York fantastic practice love the team there. I just go and do my endo and come home But as soon as I join the practice in Malton at Portman, I could just see kind of dentistry where the whole team is kind of geared towards providing the patients a fantastic service and I feel a lot of people, a lot of dentists, you know, going with the mindset where you’re going from Udas to private dentistry and you even initially have the thought. So you know what? If I don’t earn money, what if patients don’t come in, but they do come in and if you give them a good service, they do come in and they do value you. And that’s what kind of led me on to trying to move more non-clinical to try and pass that kind of feeling and knowledge onto others to help them develop and grow their careers.

Well, there’s quite a lot I want to talk about in what you just said there, because, you know, what’s your advice when when a when a young dentist asking about private is your advice to follow your path, which is three years of mixed, get your hands dirty? And then is that your advice or or is your advice different in. Much as it doesn’t have to be like if I’m a young dentist coming and asking you if you just regurgitate what you did and think that’s the best thing to do. Not necessarily true, is it? So. So what’s your reflections? If I say if I if let’s say I was this young gun and I said, listen, I want to go from university, from PhD to a private job or even skip PhD and go straight to a private job. Am I not going to be like in a in a in that frame of mind that that excellence frame of mind quicker by doing that rather than doing any time on the NHS?

So my my personal view and the reason I highlight my personal view is because lots of people nowadays are trying to go. There are certain pathways, let’s say, to private dentistry even before having done PhD. Yeah, but I feel if we’re all honest with ourselves, what do we get in dental school? It’s kind of a basic it’s that driving analogy when you pass your driving, when you do your driving lessons, you’ve had 20 lessons with an instructor. Where are you then safe to go and completely drive? Yes, to a certain level, but you still need, let’s say, a year or two of practice and that’s what the PhD training gives you. It gives you that safe, basic standard, even in terms of if I talk about my personal. How often does your car fail when you’re an FD to All the time. If you’re in private practice, you can’t have your car fail even once. So or you shouldn’t have your fail once. So it’s those kind of basics. The other things, the mentality. Even on the NHS, there’s nothing stopping you from doing a spending an hour and a half doing an endo if you’re an FD, And then as an early associate, let’s say all you’re going to do is make less money and you’re not going to be doing that all the time.

You’re also going to be able to do 12 Udas Very quickly. So it does balance itself out, but you have to kind of sacrifice something somewhere. But my advice, yes, I think staying in mixed practice, but you have to do I always say postgraduate education is the key. And again, with postgraduate education, I say, yes, courses are great, but try and do degrees with degrees. You get the kind of holistic teaching. You can then supplement them with certain courses out there. But if you’ve got, let’s say, a restorative pgdip or master’s, you can then add courses onto that to give you further skills rather than doing lots of different courses. It also ends up being the same amount of money as well. If you think about it, restorative pgdip 19 to 20 £21,000. By the time you’ve done 4 or 5 six different courses in lots of little things ends up being the same. So I’d say build a good foundation for yourself early on.

The thing is though, I mean, I did then went straight to a private job after that. Yeah, I found the private job a lot easier than the job. Yeah. And so when I say easier, you know, fewer patients, right? Fewer patients to deal with. And for me not being able to say, hi, how are you? What do you do was the hard bit. Yeah, because there’s no time to do that in the NHS. And you know, of course I understand your point, Right? Let’s not, let’s not be about I understand what you’re saying about the driving analogy. At the same time, there’s a, there’s a sort of this, this thing we have in dentistry of hey, go practice on the patients, make all your mess ups there and then and then go to private after that. Well, what about those patients, man?

Like I was saying, that’s a that’s a very good point. And what you said and I say this to a lot of people now, you know, so one of the things I’m working on in parliament is helping a few of my practices transition from NHS practices to private practices. So NHS contracts are going back and the kind of 1 to 1 work that we have to do with clinicians and colleagues in practice is to change that mindset. To say it will actually be easier because let’s say somebody who’s coming into a private practice, patients again, not to stereotype, but will be more kind of looking after the dentition, let’s say. Well, so your actual dentistry might be easier itself. But going back to your point when I was saying I mean, like I said, my personal view, but as I also said, times are different nowadays, aren’t they? Because, I mean, I had lots of people coming up to me a couple of weeks ago saying I want to go straight into private practice. And the key there is finding a mentor. Yeah. So I found my mentor early on in the NHS practice so you can find your mentor anywhere. But if you are thinking of whatever you’re thinking of doing in your career, you have to have a mentor, let’s say, who can guide you in your career.

What do you say to someone who says, Look, I want a mentor, but you know, my boss isn’t interested?

Well. Renters don’t have to be within the practice. They can be external. Yeah, they can be external. So it’s often just reaching out to someone you know, or you might see someone at a conference. They can also be I mean, I’ve found a lot of my mentors in the postgraduate education I’ve done, and I call it a likeminded network. So one of the biggest things, let’s say in life people struggle with nowadays is even if you have 1 or 2 negative people in your life, that kind of drains a lot of your energy. And I am very fortunate after doing lots of postgraduate education, having people who are like minded. So two reasons why that’s important. One is they’ll be able to guide you, give you the correct advice, but the days that you’re not feeling your best, you’re not wanting to grow and develop, they’re actually holding you accountable. So those mentors don’t have to be, let’s say, a different age to you or or might be slightly older than you, but even those 1 or 2 years difference in dentistry can mean they have the the opportunity to be a mentor for you.

Yeah, very true, man. I used to play badminton with a super super dentist. Super Pete Strand. For anyone who might know him, he’s a specialist, periodontist, big implant guy, and I used to play badminton with him once a week and we used to just go for a beer and talk about teeth. Right? And I thought I was just talking to a guy about teeth and, you know, I mean, I wasn’t I wasn’t realising how much mentorship I was getting from this guy and, and, and, you know, his principles. And we challenge each other and so forth. And massive Pete’s a massive mentor of mine but didn’t know it at the time. So your point is brilliant. Yeah. That a mentor can be a professor like someone who’s, you know, officially your mentor. Or it could be anyone you’re talking to or a peer, which is which is very interesting because you think a mentor needs to be the senior person. But you know, you sometimes get a group of PhDs living together and one of them’s going to end, though the other one’s good at selling, let’s say, or good with patients. And, you know, you teach each other. So let’s go to Endo. Yeah. How is it that you like Endo? And so many of us don’t? And by the way, when I say us, I did a restorative house job and the my direct boss was an endodontist. And so I got the bug. Yeah, I did. But I did. I had this perforation in my undergrad and it put me off. What what was the moment that you decided like, you know. Endo And how, how did you get into it?

So it’s a very, very early on and so I’m probably not might not be the best person to ask this question to because I was in third year actually of dental school. Yeah. When I when we first started getting introduced to Endodontics and that was it for me, I realised.

It clicked, then.

It clicked then so to the point where I was the first person in my year to get loops as a third year because I just thought I’ve got an endo coming up in the beginning of fourth year and I want to be able to see what I’m doing. And it was just it was that early on, but it as kind of my career started, I still did give myself the opportunity to see if I liked anything else. Yeah, but I just kept coming back to Endo, even to the point where I even did formal training in sedation, restorative. But I just still kept coming back to the endo and that’s why I even applied and got accepted for an indent. And the plan was to go and do a full time.


Pathway specialisation. And then that was just before Covid and Covid hit and lots of things happened. So I kind of spun around and and went towards doing an MSC in Endo, which has given me so much knowledge, etcetera, along with my restorative degree, to be able to accept internal external referrals for treatments, re treatments. But what.

What Endo training did you do?

So my MSC.

The restorative one.

Know my MSC and an endo.


So in my final year now.

Oh I see. I see. I see.

Yeah. So yeah again. So this is why I was saying earlier about degrees rather than courses. So if you look at lots of societies, so the British society, British society, for example, they’ll recommend or they won’t use the word accredit, but they recommend certain degrees in the country to say if you do one of these kind of degrees, you’ll be off a certain standard. And I went and did one of those. So I did the simply Endo one, which is affiliated with the University of Chester up in Liverpool. Great people up there. Mike Horrocks running a great course. And from that I’ve built up quite a big network of kind of fellow dentists who do some fantastic work. And one of my good friends is actually training to be an endodontist in hospital, and we now share cases. For example. And there’s not much difference in our treatments and re treatments. Obviously he can do apicoectomy, etcetera. But my kind of viewpoint was how often does a patient want that in practice? So I’m happy doing my treatments and re treatments and passing on apicoectomy to people like him.

So you feel like in a way, you feel like that is the one difference between you and a specialist is the discectomy.

Again, every field is different. But in endo, yes, I feel it kind of it depends on the kind of teaching and how you then go off. And I mean, another key point is I didn’t just go and do this. My restorative pgdip and my endo and then go and start taking on the most hardest of referrals. Yeah. So there’s, there’s lots of factors that come into that. And one of my friends was actually talking to me the other day and he’s in his first year of Endo training and he’s saying he’s and I was kind of pushing him to start taking on some referrals. And he was saying, Well, he’s feeling some imposter syndrome, let’s say. Yeah. And my view on that is it’s a very, very fine balance because imposter syndrome can actually hold you back if you’re not kind of progressing. But also you want to do it from a safe viewpoint. Again, give patients the best service. So my kind of simple tips to anyone wanting to start doing more endo is firstly take on referrals from 2 or 3 very close people, close friends or colleagues who you know, you trust. Explain to them exactly what level you’re at. They show you the x rays before you even see the patients. There’s no kind of awkwardness, etcetera, and slowly build your confidence. And if you are, you then do have to push yourself. And that’s where mentors come in. So sharing certain cases with mentors. So I remember when I did my first retreatment in practice and it was on a patient who I’d known as a GDP for 4 or 5 years and we kind of safer space. Safer space, Exactly. So those are the 2 or 3 kind of key things. If anyone’s looking to push more into any special interest or specialism, let’s say, in practice.

But sort of don’t talk about endo a bit more. Yeah, insomuch as I mean, this is such an unfair question, man, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Yeah. What would you say is the crux? Like what was the what was the thing that flipped in your head that suddenly made endo seem like something you want to do for the rest of your life? Well, that’s one question. The second question is clinically. Clinically, what is the crux? I mean, I know what an endo is. I know what access and isolation is. I know about Rotary. But what’s the crux of it? What’s the most important thing.

Shall I say, Why I enjoy it. So, yeah, let’s start with that.

Let’s start with that.

I go in, I know I have a day of three maximum for patients because I’m seeing patients for an hour and a half. Yeah. So, I mean, I don’t know how to put this, but if I put it in a simplest way, I’m seeing that patient for 90 minutes and then hopefully never again. Now, it’s not to say that I don’t want to continuously see my patients, but and I don’t kind of build a rapport with them in early on in when I’m meeting them, etcetera, or doing consultations, let’s say. But it’s the viewpoint where lots of implant Dental let’s say you have this phrase where you’re married to the patient, or so there’s none of that, let’s say. The other thing is that endo, I feel lots of people worry about the complications, but once you have a certain level of training, those complications.

You know how to handle.

Yes. And also you reduce those complications. So one of my tutors in in Liverpool used to say if somebody has and again, I’m not quoting them or putting this out there, but the common phrase is kind of say if somebody has a high incidence, it’s 100% their fault. And the point is that once you have a certain level of endo training, you know how not to have a hypochlorite incident. And it’s those kind of things where once you take the complications away, the day to day becomes comfortable and then predictable and you’re in control and then enjoyable. Obviously, I think that control aspect lots of dentists want and when you’re a GDP you struggle with because one second you’ll have an oral surgery patient, next second you’ll have an endo and you have to kind of be a master of all. And it’s very difficult to do that.

Not to mention profitable, right?

Yeah. I mean, so that’s the other thing. So no lab bills.

You know, the other thing, dude, forget forget the money itself. The best thing about being an endodontist is you don’t have to sell anything to anyone. Yeah, and selling is tiring, man. Yeah. You know, I remember as a dentist thinking that, like, another day of of getting people to go ahead. Yeah. Whereas in endo that’s not a problem is it?

And again it referrals. Once the patient’s been referred to you, they’re on board. They’ve even had the discussion of how much it’s going to cost.

It’s all being done. Yeah, it’s.

All been done. So. Yeah.

And then what about my second question? The crux of it clinically, like what is it like? I see some endodontists I’m a sad fool. I follow a few Endodontists Right. And and they’re like, they’re doing this super like, minimal access cavities. Is that some sort of macho thing in endo? Like the smaller your access cavity, the better you are.

That’s the latest kind of buzz. But I think in all kind of fields you get things coming up, obviously. So I come at come at anything from a restorative viewpoint. So maintaining as much tooth tissue as possible is important. But the crux and I say this, the kind of this can be actually extrapolated into other fields as well. But the simplest thing is breaking the bigger task into the small. So when I’m doing the LA, that’s all I’m focusing on giving the best LA the most painless LA. And so the patient thinks that’s the best seller they’ve had. Then I’m putting the rubber dam on and then I’m just focusing 100% on the access until I’ve found the canals. I’m not thinking of anything else. And it’s that kind of step by step process, methodical approach, which like I said, you can take into lots of fields, but especially endo feel the more methodical approach you have. Technically all your endos and your approach should be the same for all of them.

That painless injection is such a massive thing. Man. Such a massive thing. What’s your tips for that? Just put the topical and go slow.

So I did. When I did my Pgcert in sedation at Bristol, we had about six months learning about Endo LA Sorry and making it comfortable. Yeah. And lots of little factors but topical. Lots of dentists don’t wait for it to work. So if you’re using lidocaine needs to be 3 or 4 minutes for it to.

Work and use those 3 or 4 minutes to make like talk to the patient, like give that amazing service that we were talking about. Right, exactly.

And there’s lots of there’s a vibration technique, for example, when you’re doing the infiltration and.

Dry the area. Right. Dry the area before putting the topical on there. Like it’s so interesting that you forget that like for ten years of dentistry didn’t do that. Yeah. Yeah. But you know what dude, you one thing I’ve come to realise, okay, I’m going to put myself out there, so I’m an expert at bleaching. Yeah. One thing that I’ve noticed is being an expert really is about getting the basics right. It really is. And it’s not. We put it up as this sort of voodoo thing that so-and-so is a specialist at so-and-so at whatever it is, but actually that guy is just in whatever subject He’s an expert at taking care of the basics. Man in bleaching is take a damn good impression. A simple thing like that.

I can’t stress that enough. And when I did all my postgraduate teaching I’ve done, I thought I’d go back and I’d learn lots of massive differences of what I’d been taught in undergrad. But essentially it’s just reinforcing your undergrad teaching and the the kind of basics that you’ve forgotten because you’re trying to cut corners when you’re in practice and just learning not to cut those corners. And before you know it, you’re a special interest or specialist. Yeah.

So, so now with that in mind, yeah, we can say, look, excellence is a state of mind. Yeah. Not a technique. Not, not. Not a product. Yeah. That said, what’s the latest in Endo? I mean, is there. Is there some wicked arrogant That’s wicked. Is there some rotary thing that that solves a problem like I’ve been out of it for, I don’t know, 12 years. Haven’t seen a patient? Yeah. What’s the latest thing that you’re excited about in Endo?

So, I mean, I wouldn’t even say it’s the latest but active irrigation which is still feel. What does that mean?

Just irrigating.

So active irrigation. So most dentists are doing passive irrigation with the normal syringe. Yeah. So you’re kind of bringing in hypochlorite and then sucking it out with the aspiration. With active irrigation, you’re agitating it in some way so ultrasonic or whatever, ultrasonic. But nowadays you can get something called an endo activator. So it’s sonic activation. It’s the easiest thing in the world to use. Obviously hard to explain on the podcast, but if everyone just google it, you can find it easiest thing in the world to use. Essentially it moves the irrigant around and that improves your success rates. And why I say it’s not even it’s not not a new concept. So one of my essays I did in my endo training was on active irrigation, but it’s still surprising as to how many people don’t use it. And it’s a piece of kit which I feel all GDP should be using in their endo, and it would just improve success rates across the board.

So. Well that’s well, well, well documented. Is it Well, well supported?

Yes. Well evidenced. Documented. Now again, there’s lots of. So the reason why I mention active irrigation with Sonic is because you have to take factors into account like cost. So there’s active irrigation machines in America, for example, which are about 50, $60,000. No one’s going to do that. There’s active irrigation machines which are have a high risk of breaking in the canal. Nobody’s going to use those, but they may, when they work, provide a slightly better result. But when you balance everything out, like I said, this is when I did my literature search on it. The endo activators, the most simplest piece of kit that everyone can be using and improve success rates.

And what about the Irrigant itself? Is that just hypochlorite or is there something hypochlorite? Yeah, there’s nothing else.

No, no, no. No magic. No irrigant.

But you heat the thing or not.

No. So again, there’s lots of studies done and that’s where I mentioned active irrigation. So people have done studies on kind of does heating improve success rates? Not significantly, but active irrigation does. So another common method of doing active irrigation, which lots of people try and do is the GP pumping, but you’re not going to be able to move the arrogant around fast enough in the canal. And that’s where the endo activator comes in.

What about when you’ve got a tooth that’s really broken down and it’s like subjectively broken down? Are you now a ninja, like rescuing, like doing heroic antics?

No. So my viewpoint again, so and if you speak to it.

With implants or.

Yes, exactly. 100%. So I work very closely in both the practices of work clinically with the implant dentists, and often if it’s a consultation, we’ll both be in the room. And again, like I say, my restorative training and why I recommend that to anyone before they go on, even if they want to specialise in anything else, do some restorative training because treatment planning is so key. So with endo, you want to be saving the teeth that realistically can be saved. And with everything else, you know, we’ve got implants nowadays to a certain standard, A big factor which people miss out is age of the patient. So when you’re treatment planning, let’s say if when we mark up the success rates of an endodontic treatment, the younger the patient is, it’s worth taking that risk to prolong that tooth for longer because the implants. Not going to see them out. Yeah. When when a patient gets older, you want to try. And the highest chances are that the end is going to fail. There’s no point taking that chance. So you want to go towards implants. So even a simple factor like that needs to be taken into account. But Hiroden antics, you know, patients are paying you for a service. They as much as they can consent and you say it’s not going to work. Let’s be honest, they want it to work. So you have to be pragmatic and explaining all the options that they have.

And so you actually manage for posterior indos in a day’s work.

Yes. So I do an hour and a half sessions, 15 minutes in between for my nurses to clean up, set up.

Is that beginning to end? You do the whole thing in an hour and a half.

It depends.

So the situation.

Most likely I do single treatment, but for example, if you can’t get the canal dry or if there’s just a huge lesion or there’s a swelling, for example. Now, again, by the time a patient’s been referred to me, the dentist has either accessed or etcetera. So the swelling has come down. But so often I can do things in one session, but if I have to go to a second session, I do. Personally, I don’t charge for the second session. It’s all part of the same price. My viewpoint, obviously you win some, you lose some, etcetera. Yeah, it is what it is. The the treatment needs to be done right and the the best standard.

And what are the numbers? How much do you charge for a molar endo and for a retreatment.

So different in the two practices I work at. So we have set prices in both practices. So beginning from £800 for a molar and then slightly higher in my Portland practice.

And a retreatment.

Retreatment I add on £150 extra for per tooth. So whatever the tooth charge is, plus under 50. But that’s another key factor I always like to point out. And for example, we have this at Portman where we have set prices. And it’s really important that I feel for patient service, patient care and Endo can do this. And no implants, for example, can’t do this, but where you can to try and have set prices because it allows the patients to know where they stand. And you also don’t get kind of patients talking and say, oh, I had this tooth done for this much, this much, this much. So I have set prices wherever work GDP is, know what to say, etcetera, is all very clear.

That’s nice, man. The vast majority of days that you work, you grow 3500 pounds.

Yes, hopefully. I mean, that’s that’s the aim. If you have four, three, four molars and like I said, but then, for example, you have some second stages which no charge. Yes, it works out well.

I think people should think about endo more, man, because honestly, I’ve always thought that because I had a endodontic Endodontist used to work with me who unfortunately Covid took him. But, but yeah, but he was a lovely guy. No, he, he, he, he, he used to be very relaxed day to day. He really was. And I asked him, I mean he was a specialist. I asked him, listen how many times a week do you, do you hit like a situation that you’re not sure what to do? And he’s like, it’s not it’s not even once a week. It’s he said it’s maybe once a month that it gets really like hairy for him, you know, like he doesn’t know what to do. And that’s. That’s lovely. I mean, what a great life to have to sell Anything to anyone. You can do it with your eyes closed. I’m joking. I’m joking. I mean.

That’s where I kind of got to a point with my clinical work where to obviously progress my career or whatever. That’s why I started going into the or started looking for the non clinical work because that’s what kind of and now I knew what it was. Yeah. Nowadays I’m more if if I split my week it’s three days 2 to 3 days non clinical and a couple of days clinical.

But then like the non clinical days have to pay pretty damn well too. If we’re talking money have to pay pretty damn well to make up for you not working right.

Well I mean obviously non clinical when you talk about that there’s lots of different roles. Yeah. Non-clinically But I think with the non clinical roles, they never they never will make up. Yeah. What someone can earn clinically if they’re a special interest or specialist dentist if they’re a GDP for example, it’s comparable. But like I said, they do the non clinical work. It’s something.

For growth.

Yeah. For growth. Yes. And and to be able to help others grow, that’s the main thing for me.

Yeah. That’s so funny. You talk to you talk to dentists, even the ones who want to be specialists, not enough of them want to be endodontist. I find you know, people it’s not the most sexy subject. Enough of us have had a trauma in the background that we’re worried about. And then, you know, it’s the thing that’s covered late in dental school and not very well. You know, what’s what’s dental school going to do for you? Foreigners. It’s a postgrad subject in the end, isn’t it? Let’s face it. Yeah, but but when I talk to young dentists and even the ones who say I want to specialise because, you know, hey, what about Endo? The majority aren’t interested. And it’s a shame because it’s actually a fantastic career. It really is. Oh, definitely. Yeah. All right. Well, let’s move on. Let’s let’s let’s talk about firstly, how did you start going up the sort of ladder of the corporate world and how does the corporate world sort of are you are you built for it? I mean, do you like it?

So, I mean, like I said, I joined as an associate and a few years back, we’re talking.

What, five years ago?

Yeah, five years ago, joined as an associate. How many practices.

Did they have then?

I joined Molten and we’d just been taken over by Portman and I think we were practice number 71. So. Wow. You know, rapid growth recently, especially after a merger with Dentex, we now have 400 practices. So the largest providers of private dentistry in Europe, so massive organisation. But during Covid we acquired some we call it NHS practices practices with NHS contracts of 15,000 or more. And an advertisement was placed on a kind of our internal emails looking for a regional clinical lead for the NHS division and the job description was someone who can support these NHS practices to grow, develop etcetera. And and that’s what I’d kind of done with my career personally. I’d never done that at a practice level, so I applied, went for a couple of interviews. They must have liked me and obviously got the position. And as soon as I got the position I realised, you know, it’s a it’s a very heavily business role. It’s a big role. On leadership now personally, for example, leadership comes naturally to me, but I still have to do a lot of development on that side of things. And that’s why I decided to formalise my business training by doing the MBA. So I applied to Warwick, which was voted the number one business school in Europe last year. So I was lucky to be accepted to that and really enjoying that some six months into the MBA at the moment. But the learning I’ve got from that is directly usable for my clinical lead role really developed me. As a leader and my kind of non business side of things.

But I’m interested in how do you go from being associate to clinical lead and, you know, what were the steps?

So for me, so we have lots of different pathways. So for example, we have practice clinical leads as well. So there’s clinical leads within practice. Now in the near future, the hope is if someone wants to be a regional clinical lead, so we have kind of a ladder. So there’s associate dentists, people working in practices, for example, there’s then practice clinical leads who look after certain practices. There’s regional clinical leads who look after regions where I am, and then there’s director of dentistry and the kind of hope going towards the future as we get more practices is to for people to end up as practice clinical leads, regional clinical leads. I like I said, for example. So yeah, the pathway I for example like I said, saw the regional clinical lead advert and applied to that literally just like that. Yeah. Oh I see. And so again, the reason I applied is because part of the advert really interested me in it was talking about doing something at a practice level that I had done personally. I had gone from being an NHS clinician to working in a private practice and kind of developing practices for the future. But like I said, I mean, I was talking about imposter syndrome earlier. Yeah, when I first got given the position, I did suffer from that slightly and that’s why I decided to do the MBA, because my kind of there’s only in my mind there’s only one way to kind of counter the imposter syndrome. Well, there’s two ways. One is time, but sometimes you’re not afforded time if you’re in a position, and the other is to educate yourself to a point where you have you genuinely have the skills. So the MBA is definitely added that for me.

But what is it added? Give me an example of that.

So an MBA, obviously it’s a business administration degree, so leadership, like I said, for example, I’m a natural leader. But one of the biggest things that when we talk about leadership nowadays is knowing yourself as a leader and how you come across to others and how certain situations require either you to be different or if you naturally can’t be different in that certain situation, delegating a certain task or working with others around you and leadership. In the past, it was seen as a leader at the top of an organisation kind of dictating what others should do. And nowadays it’s more about the journey and bringing people along with you and even that kind of simple learning and that kind of simple mindset. Mindset shift has been massive and I’ve been fortunate to do kind of psychometric analysis through it. So I really you really learn about yourself as a person, and that’s actually something I recommend for anyone to do, even if you’re not looking to work on clinically or clinically learning about yourself. We don’t often think take enough time to learn about ourselves, our own values and how we respond in certain situations before it’s too late. So those kind of things have really developed me as a as a person even, let’s say.

So when you’re working, I mean, how tactical are they as a group? Are you are you are you running someone’s agenda like the clinical leads? The director of Dentistry’s agenda, is it how often do you meet with that guy? How often do you meet with your juniors? How does it work? Like give me give me a feeling of the structure, the org structure.

Well, I’ll talk about my kind of week, let’s say. So. Directors Dentistry. I talked to director dentistry once a week. That’s my kind of 1 to 1 check in with them and I give them. That’s often towards the end of the week where I give them a report for the whole week. I also have to write a written report for my practices and explain exactly what’s happened, certain situations, exactly what kind of decisions have been made, how things have been improved, certain things in a weekly report, and that goes to the Directors of Dentistry and the board.

So how many practices is it?

So I look after the two divisions of about 25 to 30 practices. So you write.

About you write something about each of those 30 practices?

Yeah, it takes a lot, takes a lot of time. So take to write. My weekly report takes me about an hour and a half to two hours because you’re kind of so throughout the week I’m jotting things down to write in my report and obviously discuss with the Director of dentistry. But alongside that regular 1 to 1 time, you can obviously communicate with director of dentistry any time. If there’s a there’s a situation at any point during the day or the week that you need kind of assistance advice on. But my day to roll day to day role and my remit, it’s a really wide ranging role. So it ranges from interviewing clinicians for practices, deciding who we take on to join our practices, to kind of ensuring compliance to working with practice managers. And then the wider aspect is working with the business to help develop those regions. So. The regions I look after. There are certain different criteria we’re trying to work on in those regions. So one region you might be looking to, for example, transition away from a certain type of dentistry, etcetera, or grow and, and those remits and working with the wider business colleagues to help those kind of decisions and be made from a clinical viewpoint. So that’s another thing we’re proud of at Portman, that we have a strong clinical leadership structure. Every decision that’s made is run past a clinician, let’s say. So for us, it really puts us apart at the forefront of dentistry there.

Compared to other corporates.

Compared to the corporates. Yes. So obviously, independent practices you have that kind of figurehead there from a clinical viewpoint. But compared to the corporates, we’ve got very strong clinical leadership structure there at Portman.

Do you mean explain it to me? What happens? What’s what’s the agenda? What happens? How does it work?

Do you mean the agenda for the practices in general?

For example, because we’re talking clinical now, aren’t we? We’re not talking acquisition of or are we? We’re talking clinical.

Yeah, so clinical. So I mean, examples can be day to day. So I’m a point of contact for clinicians for support. So let’s say they want any support from either if it’s directly involved. I’ve just had I’ve just seen this patient. I don’t know what to do. If it’s an endo thing, fantastic. I’ll answer. If it’s restorative thing, fantastic. I’ll answer. If it’s not an endo thing, we’ve got implant clinical leads. We’ve got other clinical leads and other aspects. I pass it over to them and vice versa. Complaints. One of my clinicians gets a complaint. I’m their point of contact. Just too often clinicians can go through personal issues. You know, I’ve been through lots of personal issues in my time as well. I’m their kind of point of contact. I’m available to talk to clinicians, you know, nine, 10:00 at night sometimes speaking to them if they’re having some issues and then from. So that’s kind of direct clinical support, let’s say. Yeah, there’s then the wider point ensuring compliance. So you’ve got audits running throughout the week, throughout the month, ensuring that everything’s running correctly, how we would like NHS standards, etcetera. And then the third kind of aspect is the growth piece. So we want all our practices to be growing, developing, adding in new services and as you know, running independent practices. That’s different and varied for each practice. So just because it’s important practice doesn’t mean there’s a one size fits all approach. And again, that’s what the MBAs brought kind of learning for me. You can’t have kind of a one size fits all approach. It needs to be implemented in different means and different practices.

But mean how much of it is is based on sort of top line, bottom line, you know that and how much of it is based on professional development or.

So I’d say 50/50 really, because so one of the key things we say at Portman is we want our clinicians businesses to grow so that our business grows. So and that is a very key but subtle but key point because clinicians self employed, yeah, they have to see the kind of growth in their own business, in their own development for the business to grow. So any decision I make for a practice to grow, it can’t be. This is for the practice to grow because if it doesn’t help at least one of the clinicians to grow, then the practice isn’t going to grow. You’re only going to grow through one of the clinicians, essentially adding in a new service, working extra hours. I don’t know who would want to do that, but working extra hours or a new clinician coming in, etcetera, etcetera. So it’s those ultimately it boils down to that, isn’t it? It’s working with the clinicians and colleagues on the ground to, to improve, move forward, adding new services develop.

And then how many dentists are we talking about?

So some practices I look after, we’ve got about 3 or 4 clinicians, some practice I look after. I’ve got 15 clinicians in total. So in total I’d say I’m looking after about 200 clinicians to 50 clinicians. So, so.

Any one time you’ve got several of them being sued, you know, loads of complaints. Yeah. So you’re doing all of that in two days. Bloody hell man. You’re working your ass off aren’t you?

So it’s employed for two days. It’s not a two day role a it’s a seven day role. And that the work ethos from earlier. But it was interesting, you know, I was saying earlier, my my dad’s passed away now unfortunately. But even him with his work ethos he when I took on this role two years ago, he used to think it’s it’s a lot of work. And that was coming from his work ethos.

So how are you fitting it in man? You’re doing the and what’s what’s the commitment there.

So every month we have kind of it’s a it’s module after module so there’s 12 modules. So I’ve done six modules so far. I’ve got six modules to go and then an elect a dissertation to do and it’s, it’s six weeks for a module and then a new module starts so there’s no break in between. So my days and weeks are very, very regimented. So I’m a big organiser strategically plan my days from kind of the moment I wake up. So work out early on in the morning. Then if I’m working clinically, I work clinically. When I come home, I’m taking any meetings at lunchtime or after work, phone calls, etcetera. If it’s a non clinical day, then it’s just a full day of 12 to 15 meetings, phone calls and then in the evening I’ve put time aside for kind of my MBA work, but most of my MBA work is done on a Saturday, so I’ll often. Like a big, long six, eight hour block on a Saturday and Sundays and two other days in the week have my son. So kind of saves time there. And then it’s just repeat. So that’s good. Go, go, go for yeah. Week after week.

My goodness That’s that’s made me tired just listening to that, man.

It’s. I find it exciting. Yeah.

I know. Now I’m starting to think maybe that look in your eyes wasn’t wide. Wide maybe that look at your eyes or something other than determination. No, but I’m going to take my hat off to you. That. That’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. I mean, don’t burn yourself out. You know that. That’s important, isn’t it? I feel like. I feel like you’re fed by it.

Yes. I mean, so that’s another thing. I was listening to someone online and they were saying so again, knowing yourself is so important. So after I’ve done this psychometric analysis and it’s really strange when you fill out this questionnaire and you have this 30 minute conversation with someone and they come back and they kind of tell you things and you almost think that someone’s been following you for six months. Yeah. So my first line on my analysis said Assad is all work and no play. Yeah. And, and I had I had not even told them about my roles that I do my work but they just managed to pick this up. And I think the point is that I personally don’t see work as work. It’s a career for me. It’s certain things I’m trying to achieve. And but I also know when I’m getting to that point of burning myself out. So I’ve got certain tactics where I’ll go away and take myself away for a couple of days or have the evening and even an evening off, for example, really refreshes me. So go for dinner, go to cinema. And that really refreshes me for the next day. But it’s important to do that before you get to the point of burnout.

Have you got a psychometric test that you like? Is there one that someone could look up?

And I’ve actually done two. So we at Portman, a lot of the employed colleagues, we were fortunate to do the Spotlights one and so the business insights one at Warwick, we did the business insight, the spotlight, sorry, and both similar, slightly different in terms of how they’re the scores are calculated and, and the kind of the results they give you. But both times I did them about 18 months apart and both times my results were almost identical. And the whole point is that psychometric point is that that is who you are. You can only adapt a certain way left or right, but to the core, who you are is is who you were kind of raised to be. Let’s say they.

Are. They test that anyone can go online and take.

Yes, you can do them online. Yeah. So again, as with anything, they vary in terms of price ranges. Often the more you pay, the more accurate they come out, etcetera. But yes, you can look at them online.

We put everyone through something called 16 personalities. It’s it’s a good website. It’s a free easy to go 12 minute thing. And you’re right about people are just amazed at what you can tell them about themselves.

And it’s important for, you know, other colleagues around you to know that what brings the best out in you and what brings the best out in them. So that’s a big thing I focus on. I I’m almost after doing so much of the kind of psychometric analysis myself, I can kind of take within five minutes of talking to someone I know where they’re kind of positioned roughly on this map of psychometric analysis and what will get the best out of them. The first five minutes I’m talking to someone are kind of analysing that and you end up doing it subconsciously. And it’s amazing to do with patience as well, because when you’re kind of giving your taking consent from them, you have to tailor it to what they understand. You know, the GDC says that to us now and how how are you meant to do that? Well, there’s lots of different things you can use to help you with that guy.

Then tell me about me.

So, Well, I met you at the show, didn’t I? So I knew straight away that you’re kind of there’s. I’d say you’re obviously built these businesses up, so you’ve been very successful in your career. But let’s say they’re not from an organisation or kind of an organised or traditional organisational approach. And there’s one thing that you even said you kind of gave it away because I was I was talking to James Martin at the time and I was talking about my dentist who investor anyone doesn’t know. I was talking about my kind of MBA and you were saying to him, You don’t want to do an MBA, you and James Martin. And it’s interesting what you can pick up when you listen to people. But I mean, and that’s that’s not wrong advice because you’ve been successful in your career. He’s done fantastic with his kind of business. But some people need it, others don’t. So yeah, by listening to. People picking up on different things. It’s amazing what you can pick up on.

Yeah, you obviously don’t know James Martin very well.

Yeah, that was the first time I met him. That was the first time I met him.

Shaky. Shaky. So, look, you said you have your son every other weekend, is that right?

No, I’m three, three times a week. So every Sunday. Every Sunday. Mondays and Wednesdays. So obviously Mondays and Wednesdays in school. But having Mondays, evenings, Wednesday evenings and Saturday from 12:00.

So. And how old is he?

He’s coming up to five now. So just starting school. And he won an award last week for being enthusiastic, which he was delighted with. Amazing. And it was funny to see because he’s obviously I’m obviously kind of subconsciously rubbing off on him, let’s say.

Tell me about divorce, because, you know, you’ve got your son these days because you’re you’re divorced. Give me some reflections on on on on your divorce.

So saf and so SAF. My ex’s dentist, she knows I’m coming on the podcast. She listens to your podcast a lot. So I said I’d give her a shout out.

So sorry for asking that question.

So we everyone kind of laughs when I say, but we still work together. When I work my clinical days, we still work together. She’s still my biggest referrer as a friend and, you know, it’s all amicable. Ultimately. I think we met when we were kind of 23, 25, and it was, let’s say we were different people at the time. As time moves on, you grow and develop in different directions. Sometimes lots of kind of life events happened which kind of affected that as well. You know, with my father being ill, a son being born really early into our relationship, for example, and then moving to York where we had no kind of family support. So it does add pressures into into a relationship. But ultimately, we’re still good friends, we’re still amicable. And, you know, we do the best for our son. So that’s the I think that’s the main thing going to the future. You know, I’m I’m I’m still a I always use this analogy of wars and battles. So life, let’s say, or certain aspects in life is are kind of like let’s say it’s overall it’s a war and you’ve got little battles and you can’t let little battles affect your overall war. So when I went through the divorce, lots of people feel can sometimes end up being, you know, angry or upset or kind of against the idea of marriage. But I’m personally not. So I feel like you can’t let little things that happen to you in life affect the overall aim of the goal that you’re trying to achieve.

As you were going through that process of like, you know, finally, I’ve never been divorced. I’ve been married. I’ve been married. Um, the moment when you’re thinking. It’s over, you know, like that moment. It’s interlaced with so many different sort of feelings, especially from an Asian background. Right. I mean, there’s it’s even more complicated, I think. Did you feel sort of the stigma of that or did you not did you get over that wasn’t part of your issue?

Slightly, and I think so For me personally, it was that it was a bit out of the blue, the divorce. But I think the stigma point of view, I feel you can feel that in anything. So yeah, again, surrounding yourselves with the right people that don’t let you feel the stigma or kind of aren’t with that viewpoint. Essentially life’s a game of opinion. So some people will have a stigma about something that’s perfectly normal and other people won’t. So ultimately, our families understood it was two people that gave our all. It didn’t work out. But the best thing is that, you know, our son is doing well and we’re still amicable. So if that’s the outcome from a divorce, let’s say, which is, as you’re describing, a kind of tough moment in someone’s life, then I feel like we’ve not done too badly there.

How is it that you stayed amicable with so many people? Don’t.


I think actually work at that. Did you like sort of want that to be the outcome?

So a bit of a strange one because, I mean, even through our marriage, let’s say we’re two people who aren’t, let’s say arguers. Yeah, we’ll always kind of communicate in the correct manner. And I think that’s always important to try and communicate in the correct manner, whoever you’re talking to in life. So that helps. And then obviously still working together, there still has to be that colleague relationship. So, you know, it’s a relationship of colleagues now and just how I am with my other colleagues and how she’s with her other colleagues, it’s exactly the same there now.

Because I think, you know, often you see it in divorce rate where especially where there’s kids involved. Where it’s not as friendly as yours. And then people people sort of forget that, you know, like while you’re hurting, that your your ex-partner, you’re also hurting your kid badly. Exactly. And I think we all we all know this instinctively, right? But somehow we think the the acrimony takes over and revenge or something. I mean, like some sort of tit for tat. You know, I’ve got family divorced and they can’t even call each other. It’s only email only, you know. And what can you get over in an email that it’s like it.

Yeah. I mean, lots of people ask me about this and there’s no kind of one set thing that I feel we’ve done. It’s just the feeling was mutual to be amicable. And, you know, it’s good that it’s worked out that way and hopefully continues because like I said, and going back to if I talk about me personally, why I’ve really focussed on being amicable is because it’s not worth winning a battle or let’s say kind of causing a battle when the ultimate aim is for a son to do well. So that has to be the centre point and the focus.

With this in mind, let’s get to the darker part of the thought. What would you think is some of some of your darkest days in, of course, divorce your dad, but where it’s interlaced with dentistry, What comes to mind when I say darkest days?

Well, I mean, so I was about 18 months qualified when I was actually sued. And, you know, that’s probably that kind of time period was one of my darkest days. But so it was one of those patients. And again, you were asking earlier what kind of triggered me to really start developing my career. It was kind of that unfortunate event, let’s say. So as a patient I’d seen for an extraction, long story short, but kind of no complications. Patient was a smoker, got to infectious a dry socket, ended up in hospital and we didn’t hear from them again for, you know, they were meant to come back to have some prosthetic treatment. Didn’t hear from them again. We just thought, you know, they’ve gone somewhere else. I even tried ringing them a couple of days after, you know, to check in on them. I was one of the tips I learned quite early on in my career to ring patients after big treatment to try and see, but they didn’t answer the phone. So I just thought, right, they’ve gone somewhere else. And then it was it was almost a year after that point when I came into work one day and I had this solicitor’s letter on my desk and they were the solicitors were asking for about £80,000 because they had said it was a strategic tooth.

I shouldn’t have extracted it in the first place. I should have. It was a grade two mobile, a compromise tooth. I should have crown lengthened, root treated post and chord crowned it because it was a strategic tooth. And now at the time when you when you were young dentist you don’t and the importance of mentors many years later lots of people and even myself. If someone else was coming to me with this, they would say, Look, ask your indemnity to kind of fight this and and fight your corner here because there’s no issues. The my indemnity and the kind of wisdom settled with the patient. It was a no blame on the dentist. So that got me to sign a piece of paper. A patient signed a piece of paper, patient still got, you know, a handsome payout.

And how much did you get?


And you’ve done nothing wrong. Just dry.

Socket. Yeah. And it’s one of those where obviously in hindsight, you ask your indemnity to fight it for you because you know, it’s the the correct thing to do. Ultimately that kind of those dark days kind of kicked me into action because I kind of started thinking, look, I’ve always loved Endo. And the ultimate aim was to do an indent. I’ve not done any postgraduate training, so let’s try and go and do some postgraduate training. So the first thing I could I was accepted on because when obviously when you apply for postgraduate training in universities, there’s an application process, etcetera. Was this Pgcert at Bristol? And obviously I carried on from there. But the kind of stimulus was from those dark days. And one of the things I always say to younger colleagues now is dark days won’t last. If you’re able to get yourself out of them, you have to try and get yourself out of it by thinking of a course of action to move forwards. And there always is a way in dark times, there is always a way to move forwards.

But, you know, I’ve never been properly sued. I mean, there were some there were some, you know, things that could. Only practice for like 4 or 5 years. But, you know, properly full time. But remember that when a complaint became dark for me was where the patient was kind of implying that I wasn’t paying attention, where I was really going out my way to pay attention for that patient. And that that disconnect makes you question everything about yourself. And so in this situation, did you feel like you’d done anything wrong other than that, you know, the communication piece that you didn’t manage to get through on the phone?

No, I mean, that’s where you when you I describe it as almost all the stages of grief, really, because you go you go you start off with anger, but ultimately disbelief. Disbelief, Yeah. Because it’s like that. It’s got that far, let’s say, for example. Yeah. And then obviously continuous disbelief that people are trying to settle it for you, etcetera. Yeah. And you think maybe this is the system. But again, going back to the point, there’s only yourself that can get you, that can get you out of that. And it’s important that you, you kind of see the tunnel. Now having mentors helps you with that because many years later, when I discussed this with mentors, I mean, early on in my career, I was almost embarrassed to talk about it. Yeah, because you were kind of embarrassed that you’ve been sued. But many years later, when I finally started talking about it, people are like, We would have fought this for you. We would have you know, I’ve had restorative consultants in university saying these are the kind of cases when people reach out to me, I come and defend them in court and and fight for you. So, yeah, try and reach out for support.

So I can imagine being sued 18 months out of university is, you know, a painful dark moment. Right. But what about if I said, what’s your biggest clinical error? What would you say to that from the black box thinking way of looking at life so that we can all learn? You know, in medical we don’t tend to share our errors.

Yeah. I mean I mean clinical. So you mentioned earlier, I’ve been fortunate that I’ve never had a major, major disaster in Endo. And again, which is probably why, you know, I always ended up enjoying it. But one of the things I realised quite early on is that I mean, I almost have two left hands when it comes to doing oral surgery, and part of it is undergraduate teaching. Part of it is just never had the passion for extracting teeth and wanting to save teeth. But this piece kind of goes to, I feel, whereas very what that kind of got me to realise. And so my biggest kind of clinical errors are leaving retained roots, etcetera, that then even with the help of a colleague etcetera, couldn’t be removed and you know, had to consent the patient about the process and you know, there’s a root left, etcetera, etcetera. But from that there’s two kind of things I learned is and I explained this to a lot of people, firstly, if you’re struggling with a certain aspect or you’ve made a certain mistake, you have to really analyse it in depth. So when I would analyse those things, it would come back to being a training deficiency for me. And then the next part is what are you going to do? So don’t just kind of analyse and say, Right, I’ve got a training deficiency, what am I actually going to do? And I’ll explain what I did which is which some people may find funny, but my kind of solution was I put myself in a position where I’m not doing oral surgery anymore.

So that’s one solution. I’m not doing oral surgery, so I’m not going to have disasters in oral surgery. But if somebody said write oral surgery matters to me and I want to make a career, then you have to try and kind of push yourself to go and do that training. And again, the reason I didn’t go and do that training was I chose Endo and I thought, I’m going to make a career there. If I say it as a GDP, I know 100%, I would have had to go and do further training in oral surgery to bring myself up to a certain standard. But then you come back to strengths and passions. My strength and passion was always endodontics and one of the key successes, key ways for success I feel people can utilise is focus on what your strengths are naturally. Really enhance those, get your weaknesses or delegate your weaknesses to somebody else. I refer all your oral surgery out and you won’t be too far wrong in your career.

So your biggest clinical error was you broke a tooth in an extraction and left some roots.


Ever. That’s your biggest clinical error?

Yeah. I mean, I’ve been so let’s say I’ve been fortunate in that. So one of those so I’ve had that, let’s say 2 or 3 times in oral surgery, but even one was too many for me. With my kind of ethos of doing the best. And in my mind, if I can’t do something to a really high standard, I don’t want to do it. And that’s the way I’ve always thought about things personally. Now, it’s not always an option for for people doing general dentistry because we we get patients and we’re kind of forced to do oral surgery. We’re forced to do things that we were not good at. And we can’t always refer patients out because they’re not always willing to pay for a special interest or a specialist dentist. But me personally, I put myself in a position where I wouldn’t have to do oral surgery, where I’m able to refer it to colleagues or work with, for example.

But going give me another clean clear.

So obviously no fractured files, but don’t see those as well.

Let’s talk about fracturing first. Let’s talk about fracturing first. So so first of all, the language is beautiful, right? The file has separated.

Yeah, exactly.

It’s beautiful language.

Well, there’s a funny story about that, because somebody was telling me once that a dentist basically fractured a file. So he sat the patient up and he showed them the file and he said, look, this is titanium.


Titanium. And the patient said, How much do I owe you? So so it’s it’s the way you explain things too often. But.

But when does it happen? When does it happen? Is it out of the control of the endodontist or is it. No.

So it’s essentially there’s two types of fractures. You can either get torsion or rotational. So you’ve either gone around too far around a corner and the file stuck there and it’s still spinning at the top or you’ve got a fracture at the whole shaft. Now, the point is there’s again, going back to the basics, one of the first basics we learned in dentistry is creating a glide path in dental school. And when we get into dental practice, we kind of discard that because it takes time. But that taking of time will save you from fracturing a file. So I’ve fractured a file and remind me.

What that means. Does that mean that your access reflects the curvature of the canal? I’ve forgotten what glide path is.

So there’s. So there’s that as well. You kind of your access, but your glide path is your kind of path in layman’s terms, path from the coronal section to the apical section. And it should be essentially smooth, able to smooth to pass file that requires either hand filing first. Yeah, yeah. Or now you can get kind of rotary glide path files to use. I use hand filing for that. But the key point is that if you following those basics, you spend time creating glide path. Your axis is correct. You shouldn’t be fracturing your file. But going back to the time when I fractured the file, it was on my first ever day in the new job and in the new job where I was just doing endo. So I’d done a PG cert. It was one of my first ever patients. And you can imagine you’re already thinking you’ve already got this kind of feeling in your mind, thinking, Am I at the correct time to be accepting referrals? Am I at the correct time to be starting a brand new job where I’m just doing Endo Yeah, and then you go and fracture your file. And that required a lot of mental resilience to get past that because essentially, again, went home, analysed. What mistake could I do? And that was my first and ever fracture. But again, it’s the analysis that let’s me kind of feel lets me get out of those time. You have to analyse it and it has to be brutally honest. So sometimes we analyse and I could have analysed and said, Oh, it was a brand new machine to me because I’m using a slightly different rotary machine to my the practice. Well, if I’m being honest, that’s not actually the reason I fractured is because I didn’t create a glide path. The machine had nothing to do with it and I’ve gone on to use that machine many times and it’s been fine. So you have to, when you analyse a mistake, you have to be honest with yourself.

And then once the instrument is separated, is there any any justification for leaving it in or do you always take it out?

So should always look to take it out again via referral. Or if you’ve got the you know, is that.

A common referral that you receive?

So I personally don’t do many fractured file removals. So again, this is on my master’s training in Liverpool. I met a dentist, Rob Eades. He lives five ten minutes away from me, works five, ten minutes away from me. And between us we get a lot of the endodontic referrals in York and he’s gone and done a lot of training after his master’s on file removal. And again, you send them to him? Yeah, I send them to him. Or. Well, I advise people to refer to him if there’s a fractured file because he’s fantastic at removing fractured files. And the key point is he’s gone and done so much training in that it’s kind of bread and butter for him. And there’s fractured files now in this day and age with the tools that we have aren’t anything that is, let’s say, a game over because you can either look to bypass the file or remove it with the tools that we have.

And what are the tools, some sort of kit.

So yeah, one of the one of the best tools out there is it’s, it’s kind of a simplest way to describe it. It’s kind of a small loop. It’s almost like a cowboy loop, which you throw around the file. You kind of pull back and it grabs it, grabs it and pulls it out. To do that, obviously have to widen your access. You have to widen the canal. What’s that called is a Yoshi loop. Yoshi. So it’s a Japanese instrument, really fantastic dentist who invented that. He does courses now and again. So he charges almost four figures to just remove a file and he can he can remove his kind of claim to fame as he can remove any file in the world. Wow. With this with this system that he’s developed.

So now now in the position you’re in now, your your advice to colleagues who get sued is, okay, stay calm, number one. Yeah. But you know, you’re thinking as as a as a dentist. Often I get this call sometimes from some of our customers, friends of mine who got sued suddenly. It’s not just you’re not a great dentist, it’s you’re not a great dentist. And you may lose your job and you may not be able to feed your family and you may have to take your kids out of private school. And, you know, the catastrophize is what do you do about it? Because you’re kind of a young guy, man, and it’s you’ve got quite an old head on your shoulders. You do. It’s clear. But how do you calm down that dentist? What do you say?

So again, I’ve had to support a lot of dentists with kind of complaints. And the first thing is this again, with anything like putting in perspective. Yeah. So we’ll often catastrophize and make the situation worse. But once you put things in perspective, you realise it’s it’s not the end of the world because it’s a, it’s either an honest mistake or a mistake that that you’ve attempted to rectify. Often dentists will look to rectify this by referring the patient out doing exactly what’s right. And those things are taken in favour of dentists when complaints are made as well. But my advice is always try and obviously take things as your indemnities advising, but also if you want to reach out and take advice from university professors, often quite helpful or again in Portland, my kind of role, reach out and take advice from me and what to do next. Steps and see if there’s any thing that we can do to support you along with what your indemnity is saying. The complaints are going to happen. A long time ago, somebody said the only sure way of not getting complaints is just not going to work and not practice.

If you’re in work, you’re going to get complaints. And as long as you’re trying to be honest, you’ve done everything right. It’s all documented. You’re not going to lose your house. You’re not going to lose your job. The wider point I see and again, my me being sued really hit me on that. And this is part of the discussion I was having with James Martin is I’ve been a kind of a heavy investor financially in things outside of dentistry for and having kind of a rainy day fund. And I feel the earlier people can do that in their career, it gives them the kind of security. So having kind of either with this non-clinical role, for example, another string to my bow, another way to make a living, other aspects to either your kind of financial output, just kind of money in a savings account. Even again, people in dentistry talk more on this than the detail I want I’m going to go into, but seek those people out and have something in place and then complaints, etcetera, shouldn’t be something that, you know, is a scary thing.

Tell me about the great man at the top of Portman. Sam Waley-cohen. Have you met him?

I met him once briefly. So he’s like, lovely guy. So obviously, the kind of inception story into Portman is, you know, he was from a business background and he really wanted to create and I’ve used this phrase a few times tonight, but create exceptional experiences for patients where we really focus on putting patients at the heart of what we do. And it goes beyond just kind of a phrase, but lots of things that we do in practice is revolve around creating that kind of impression. And it’s the key thing from every colleague or every team member is a valuable part as a valuable part to play. So the patient journey for us starts from the moment the patient rings up to book an appointment or interacts with us online to book an appointment via email, etcetera. That’s where our patient journey starts. And, and from that kind of simple ethos. The other kind of big vision that we have at Portman is to be the best dental group in the world. So one of the phrases we use is ultimately, at some point in the future, when somebody thinks of dentistry, they think of Portman. They kind of the two are synonymous with each other. And and that’s the kind of ethos that we have and the vision that we have to go forwards. And that comes from Sam, from everything that he’s done in his career, even as a sportsman, let’s say, continuously working at it, until he won the Grand National.

And now that you’ve got this Dentex merger. It’s not clear mean from from from my side. From the supplier side. Yeah. Yeah. It’s not really clear. Is it going to be one big Portman model? Is it going to be one big dentex model? Is it going to be a hybrid essentially?

So there’s lots of work going on behind the scenes for that. So if you imagine when two companies merge, yeah, there’s initially, you know, the competition, mergers, acquisitions, the CMA authority who want to to to talk about kind of is this a monopoly, etcetera. So we’ve gone through that process. There’s lots of little processes that you go through before you merge a company. And we’re now finally reaching the point where we’re able to merge kind of essentially all the departments within the business into one kind of unified departments. Of the two marketing departments, for example, are coming together to one, two clinical departments coming together to one. So that’s the process that we’re going through. From your kind of point of view during that time period? Yes, that month or so, things kind of are transition. Yeah. Up in the air. But very soon things will be kind of fully merged and everything will be kind of announced and ready to go for the future.

Yeah, but what’s the answer to that question is, are the 400 practices going to be more like Dentexes or are they going to be more like Portmans, or are they going to leave them as they are? By the way, you should go into it. Go into it. What’s the difference between a Portman practice and a Dentex practice? From what I can see, the Portman practice is fully owned and the Dentex practice is kind of kind of isn’t. It’s almost like the Dentex practice. They’re leaving them to do whatever they want. The Portman practice is a bit more managed. Is that right?

On the surface, yes. Yeah. In answer to your question, which model are we going to go towards that? That is the. That were in figuring out and figuring out now. Yeah. So once that is kind of finally settled and figured out, that will obviously be announced to the industry. Well, firstly to our practices for example, and then to the wider industry. But it’s an exciting time because you mentioned the subtleties in that the dentist’s practices, let’s say, are.

Left to their own.

Devices. Well, let’s say less.

Decision making wise.

Hands on. Yeah. The ultimate ethos of both businesses is exactly the same. So if you and it’s been interesting, I’ve met a lot of colleagues from Dentex now and the things that they’ve been working on completely independently over the past two years have been exactly the same as what we’ve been thinking and we’ve been wanting to work on. So now the two kind of combined departments coming together will be. I say might be biased, but it will be industry leading.

And what was the first time you knew about it? Was it the same time that I knew about it?

So it was announced as clinical leads was announced just a bit before obviously it came out.

So what was the reason for the merger?

As simple as that. It’s there’s two companies here who have exactly the same ethos and what they’re trying to provide. So discussions were had between the execs and the decision was made to obviously look to merge the businesses. And let’s say by a by-product that has brought growth because all of a sudden we’re now almost 400 practices going over 400 practices. So all of a sudden it’s a bigger entity. And having a bigger entity allows us to kind of input our vision to the wider Dental industry a lot quicker of becoming the best Dental kind of group out there.

But, you know, when when, when businesses by each other, you can understand what’s going on there, right? You’re almost you’re accelerating market share or whatever the when businesses merge. Mean you’re in the middle of your but you tell me for me from from my from my amateur perspective it’s a cost saving exercise. You’re trying to sort of get rid of people.

Not necessarily because I mean, a famous merger I always talk about and again, with the NBA, you got you get lots of case studies and. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Obviously, you’ve had GlaxoSmithKline in the past. So Glaxo and SmithKline merged and that was done for a reason of that both develop the similar type of drug. I can’t remember exactly what drug it was, but it was the case study that we read. It was a similar type of drug. They were both trying to go for the same market and when they broke the drug down, the kind of products and the constituent products of the drug weren’t too dissimilar. So they both said to each other, look, this is going to be our leading drug in the market for each of us independently. Why not merge and just take over the whole market in that kind of field? So there’s lots of different reasons why companies merge. But for us it’s a clear and it’s I think it’s been shown to the industry, it’s a clear growth strategy because it’s we could have continuously run as two independent organisations. I mean, even a simple thing of we as a combined organisation now have a head office kind of head based in London, whereas Portman, we didn’t have much of a head space in headquarters in London for many years. We were always attempting to try and get one, you know, costs in London etcetera hard. We now, after the merger, have one in London and one in Cheltenham. So, so a certain practices. For example, in the past both our mergers and acquisitions team and this is when the exec kind of started realising wait a minute, we’re both going for the same practices and it’s not a coincidence how many times it’s happened. And then it would be a coin toss between the, the vendors. And sometimes they go to Portman, sometimes they go to Dentex. So it was essentially those kind of.

Pushing the price of the practice up as well.

Guess Yeah, if you’ve got two competitors going for it, Yeah, yeah.

And going forward then what’s the plan is are they planning to buy more and more practices? You know.

I’m urging the acquisition department was one of the first that fully merged. So yes, essentially we want to continue to to to grow.

Grow the numbers of practices. Yeah. And so now you you’ve got an insight into I guess the numbers right. When you see how many practices do you say you’re looking after now.

25 to 30. Yeah.

So you’re looking at those 30 practices and you can see the numbers in the 30 practices and you can see the performance of the different clinicians. And obviously in my world, it’s it’s like the number of teeth whitening treatments that they do. Yeah, yeah. And, and it’s massively different even within the same practice you get one dentist does, you know, 20 a month and you get another dentist does one every six months. Yeah. And obviously in my world it’s very simple. It’s all about teeth whitening. Hey, talk about teeth whitening more. You know that. That’s that. But when you look at it, how do you have you have you successfully addressed that when when you see one dentist not performing from that perspective from the production perspective?

So this is where at Portman and part of the reason the clinical lead role came about is we have a big ethos of clinical freedom. So yeah, as long as a dentist is providing the best standard of care, productivity essentially doesn’t come into it because they’re self-employed clinicians, they can choose how long to work, etcetera, what they want to work, where they want to work, as long as they’ve got the best equipment, materials provided to them, they’re able to do the best dentistry. But my kind of answer to your question, there’s lots of different factors why one dentist can be providing 20 and whitening treatments, let’s say another is providing one. And let’s kind of take away the fact that, okay, the person who’s providing one is a special. No. Let’s say GDPs. Yeah. So why is there such a disparity? Well, it can come down to even subtle things. For example, a newer clinician in the practice can be focusing on if they’re early in their time in the practice, they can be having to kind of build a patient base and they’ll trust of new patients. They’re building trust and they’re actually having to do lots of restorative treatment. And again, that’s where a lot of my role comes into it because I kind of add colour to the numbers When I’m talking with operations colleagues, I’m adding colour to the numbers and kind of putting a story behind the fact that it’s not as simple as one clinician is just doing 20. Very good point.

Very good point. Because because in the corporate situation, often the numbers are the only thing that are doing the talking. Yeah, and you’re absolutely right. You know, being able to, as you say, put colour to it. Yeah, it makes a big difference. But go on.

Well I mean I think the other the other factor is it’s going the other way. It could be that let’s say one dentist has just gone and done. I’m just using an example of like an ethical sales course and actually that of course they’ve just gone and done that and the others haven’t. And then I’ll kind of sit down if, if the if after putting the colour to the numbers, it genuinely does show that, you know, one clinician is, is outperforming, outperforming for a genuine reason, then obviously we’ll look at that. But you get that again clinicians and people can are self-motivated and self-motivation. Nothing can beat self-motivation. There’s no amount of external motivation. You can dangle all the carrots in the world in front of someone, but self motivation always outweighs external motivation. So some people will always just sell more of your whitening than others.

Yeah, and I notice Portman did it doing a thing where they’re sort of buying associates. That’s an interesting move. What do you guys call that internally? What’s the name of that buying associate? Sounds strange.

I’m not sure what you’re.

Where they ask an associate, someone who’s an associate to move over to Portman but pay them like a big golden handshake to move.

So we are actually one of the corporates that’s not actually doing kind of golden handshakes. Oh, you know, no. So some of the other corporates do. But I don’t know if you want to. Yeah. Got that wrong. Yeah. Because there’s a big self-employed piece around that. So some of the other corporates might be in a bit of hot water soon around that but you’re not it’s it’s hard to give a self-employed person a golden handshake.

Is that.

Right. Yeah. From HMRC point of view I.

Got that wrong. Maybe I got that wrong. You talked about your your dad and it’s obvious to respect that you’ve got for him and you know, the relationship you had with him. Tell me tell me about, you know, as you’re going through this. Stressful job, let’s face it. When you said your dad got ill, what was the what was the time between finding out that he had a problem and then when he passed away, how long was that?

So we ended up having cancer about two and a half years. And his first cancer went into kind of almost remission. And then he got a secondary cancer. That secondary cancer was in January this year, and that was kind of an aggressive and as soon as that was diagnosed, it was kind of terminal. So he passed away in April, middle of April. And again, that kind of time period was very stressful and obviously very busy because I was working full time. I didn’t miss, you know, I was trying to when you have a responsibility to practices and clinicians, you know, I take that very seriously. On top of that, the kind of final week before he passed away, I had my MBA study week, so I had to be at Warwick for five days. So I was going to go into Warwick, go into hospital, sleeping at the hospital till kind of five, 6 a.m., then going back to Warwick, then hospital. And I think the point is through that you, you often sometimes don’t realise how strong you are or how much resilience you have until you get tested. And I always felt and it’s always come out in my psychometric analysis, let’s say that I have a certain amount of resilience naturally, but that was a time that I could really kind of lean in on that. And in some ways I kept it business as usual as much as possible. But obviously, yes, it was a hard time supporting my family emotionally, etcetera.

You said to me, I don’t know if it was in in the pod or out of the pod, but you said to me that your dad had just retired.


When this happened.

Well, so he hadn’t actually the illness kind of retired him, so he, he was one of those same kind of with the work ethos. He never wanted to retire. And he was only 67. Oh, my goodness. So he he didn’t want to retire. And even till kind of his the last year of his life. And I feel like this is where I get a lot of my kind of natural inclination to help others and not just sit in a room and do endo all day, let’s say. Yeah. So in the last year and a half of his career, he set up a big kind of pathway for foreign doctors to come into the UK, and he set up kind of four training centres in UK hospitals off his back. So just a few weeks back it was the first kind of graduation ceremony of those doctors having done two years in the NHS and my mum and my brother and me were invited as kind of guests of honour to that, which is a big kind of moment for us to see, kind of the hard work and see in front of us all these doctors that had come over.

What a lovely legacy for your dad. Yeah, a lovely thing.

Yeah, He left a big legacy. And I think that’s why, you know, I’m very you know, when I talk about him, it’s there’s obviously the sadness, but also kind of the happiness and the pride because of what he achieved in his career.

That’s beautiful, buddy. I know that we’ve kind of we’ve been talking for two hours, man. Let’s let’s get to the final questions. Yeah. It’s gone. It’s gone. It’s gone so quickly for me. I just looked at the title. Yeah. So let’s start with mine. Let’s start with mine. Fancy dinner party? Yeah. Three guests. Dead or alive? Who do you have or why?

So obviously, what I’ve been saying earlier about my dad and so obviously my first guess would be my dad. And, you know, as I’m saying, he wasn’t just what he achieved in his career, but my dad was one of those people that ended up, no matter how busy he was, he ended up knowing a lot about, let’s say, politics, sports. He wasn’t a big sports fan, but he ended up knowing all the sports news, so to the point where anyone could come up and have a conversation with him. So I feel if he was at the dinner party, no matter who I go on to invite, you know, there’d be good conversation there. My second one, and I think obviously title of the podcast Dental Leaders podcast and obviously in the talking a lot about leadership. My second one would have to be Queen Elizabeth. The second, because of what she achieved as a kind of being thrust upon leadership, being thrust upon her at the age of 25 when she probably thought she had a few more years before she became queen in the aftermath of World War Two, you know, was just last year. Everyone was talking about her achievements and then also kind of staying relevant throughout all these years. So relevance is something that, let’s say celebrities or certainly people in dentistry even clinically, let’s say we struggle with because we’ll we’ll work for five, ten years, we’ll get set in our ways. But here was someone who was able to stay relevant for 60, 70 years.

Yeah, she’s come up once before. Flawless. No. Flawless. Yeah. Incredible. Go ahead.

And the final one? I’m a big football fan, not a fan of Manchester United, so I will kind of add that in. But Sir Alex Ferguson and the thing that fascinates me about him as a leader is often leadership is very easy or I wouldn’t say easy, but it’s easier if things are not going well and a new leader comes into an organisation and says, Look, these are the kind of changes we want to make. People are more receptive to those changes and you often have some success. But what happens after success is either people get complacent or you kind of get to a plateau point. And the thing that fascinates me about him, again, not a Man United fan, but how he was able to continuously renovate kind of teams, reinvigorate players after success and to continuously move the club forwards. So those are my three people that I’d have.

Nice. Who do you support?

I’m a Birmingham City fan, so of course my my sins of living and growing up in Birmingham.

Prav final question, a deathbed one. It’s weird with someone so young on your deathbed. Friends and family around you. Three pieces of advice you’d leave them.

So I say some of these to my son every morning when I’m dropping him off to school. And I thought I’d share some of those because. And on the surface of them, they seem kind of simple ones. But then obviously I’ll go in to explain them a bit more. And the first one is, and we’ve talked earlier about enjoy what you do day to day life can be can, can become mundane. And, you know, I talk about this in my career. One of the key factors I feel like I don’t get to burn out easily because I’m genuinely enjoying what I’m doing. And you see that in a lot of people. If you genuinely enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like something enjoyable. So if and the counter of that, if you end up at any point in your life doing something that you’re not enjoying, then change it, change that. And I’d say very quickly, because it’s very easy to get set in your ways, either kind of something might be financially right or whatever. Exactly. If you’re not enjoying it, change it quickly. My first big one. Second one touched on this earlier, but surround yourself with the right people. And I said even one negative person in kind of around you can really drain that negative energy from you. So I kind of really focus on having people around me who are really positive. Now, it’s not to say if one of my friends is going through a tough time, they’re gone and I’m there to support them. I was going to.

Say, Have you fired anyone before?


We’ve a friend. I mean, not. Not. Not an employee.

No. So. No, no, but I think not yet. Yeah, let’s say, um, but I think it shows because if your values are such and if what you genuinely sit down and talk about is a certain kind of thing, then you’re not going to attract people to that friendship group, let’s say, who aren’t along that line. But it’s really important to have the right people around you. And the final one, again, like I said, on the surface of it will seem so simple, but we always forget. And you know, again, touching on my dad, my dad was 67. He had still until his last days, he said he had all these kind of ambitions, things he wanted to achieve. And it’s the final piece of advice. Give it your all. So we all only get one chance at this life. So really, whatever it is, big or small, just give it your all. And you don’t know whether by giving your all in that one small thing, it becomes a big part of your life. But remember that you only get one shot at it.

How do you want to be remembered, sir? Assad was.

Assad was somebody who. Who went out of his way to help people. And I put that in there, went out of his way because it’s what I’ve seen my dad do and it’s what I firmly believe in, even to this day. And I don’t say this lightly, but every single kind of message I get on any kind of LinkedIn or social media, I’ll always respond to whether I feel it’s not relevant to me or not. Even if it’s just to say, Look, it’s not relevant to me. I just feel if someone’s giving me their time, I want to be there to help them in some way. So if I can be remembered as that, that would be it for me.

That’s lovely, Melody. Well, think. Think. You know, your future’s going to be bright, but your future’s going to be bright. So someone so young, What are you, just eight years out of university? Yeah. That’s really nice. Eight years out of university. Um, talking the way you are. It’s nice. You got, as I say, you’ve got an old head on your shoulders, and, you know, I don’t know where it’s going to go for you, man. Whether you’re going to stay in this corporate thing or, you know, as I said to you on that day when we met, people who finish MBAs come out and say, I want to run GlaxoSmithKline now, you know. So let’s see. Let’s see where it goes. But maybe maybe we do a second one five years down the line. And you know what? I was thinking of you. I was thinking of saying, hey, where do you want to be in five years or in two years? And then doing another 1 in 2 years and seeing what happened, you know, something like that. Maybe we’ll include that in the in the in the following ones. Lovely. Lovely to have you, buddy. Thank you so much for doing this. Great. Really, really enjoyed that. Thank you, man.

This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts. Payman, Langroudi and Prav. Solanki.

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