Charles Armitage

Co-founder and CEO, Florence

Charles is a co-founder and CEO of Florence – a technology business that is solving the global healthcare workforce crisis.  Before starting Florence in 2017, Charles was a doctor working in the NHS where he experienced first hand the pressures placed on the healthcare workforce and the opportunities for technology to solve some of the challenges in efficiently deploying flexible staff at scale.  Today, Florence is a post Series B company and has a team of 220 people operating across the UK, France and Canada.

1. What values are most important to you as a leader? 

Number one for me is the importance of having strong, collaborative and trusting interactions with your colleagues.  At Florence we talk about ‘building a positive team’.  If I ever zoom into a part of the business that isn’t working, 9/10 times it’s because people aren’t focussing on the importance of working together.

It’s important I turn up to a work environment where people demand high standards and challenge each other but do so with humour and with kindness.  I am highly competitive and love seeing that in other people.  But that should never flip over into being anything vindictive.  We’re playing a serious game that has a big impact on our customers and the livelihoods of my colleagues. But if things go wrong, it is still a game. No one is going to die!  

2. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

There’s a particular breed of character I can’t get enough of. They’re explorers, adventurers, pioneers or miscreants like Captain Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Antoine Saint Exupry or the allied prisoners of war in Colditz.  I am inspired by their innate sense of adventure and bravery, but particularly by traits that they show in some pretty adverse situations.  Faced with utterly hopeless situations, these men showed resilience, resourcefulness and drive.  Whatever happened, they tried to face all adversity with a sense of duty and a sense of humour.  I often wonder if I’d have been able to behave like that…

3. Best piece of advice you have been given?

If you cycle in London, buy bike insurance.

4. What would you tell your younger self?

Enjoy the process, keep exploring and don’t take things too seriously.  I think I did this anyway.

5. What has been your most important or profound lesson as a leader?

The most important skill you can build as a leader is being able to communicate ideas simply and succinctly. Any fool can make things look complicated.