Leadership Lessons

Move from the pack mentality to forge your own path

Dr Simon Chard (Dentistry, 2012) has a cosmetic and implant practice just outside of London, which he co-owns with his wife Dr Meghan Chard. In 2015, Simon was voted the Best Young Dentist in the UK. In 2020, Simon was selected as the fourth most influential dentist in the UK and is currently President Elect of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

In 2021, Simon Chard appeared on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den to pitch PÄRLA toothpaste tabs – a range of ethical and eco-friendly toothpaste tablets. PÄRLA has since become the first toothpaste tablet to launch in national supermarkets. Here, Simon shares his philosophy as a healthcare professional and entrepreneur.

When did you realise you had an entrepreneurial way of thinking?

When I was younger, my brother and I tried to launch a fruit smoothie company and I’ve constantly had ideas since then. That’s what attracted me to dentistry – the ability to build something out of nothing. The ability to integrate my passion for dentistry with building a business is something that I really enjoy.

How did King’s help you in your career journey?

When I did my first degree, I wasn’t that driven. I was a mediocre student. Somehow I managed to get into the fast-track Dentistry course at King’s. From the very first moment, I was passionate and had a different mindset. Professor Avijit Banerjee inspired me. I began to think about how I could differentiate myself, going above and beyond and entering competitions. I ended up winning the top clinical prize. King’s helped to direct my passion.

What would you describe as your ‘big break’?

It would have to be winning ‘Best Young Dentist, London’ and ‘Best Young Dentist, UK’ in 2015. The awards were always a target for me. Winning gave me unbelievable reassurance and pushed me into new arenas. Then, the opportunity to pitch PÄRLA on Dragon’s Den was an amazing experience (if a bit scary) and also very good for the brand.

Describe your leadership style in three words.

Informal, passionate, radically transparent (that’s four!).

When it comes to employing somebody, what is the most important thing you take into account?

For me, in my practice, mindset is more important than skillset. A cultural fit is crucial, as well as good communication skills. It’s the same for PÄRLA. I want staff with self-awareness and a commitment to development and growth.

What’s next for you?

I want consumers to move from plastic tubes to toothpaste tablets – that’s why I developed PÄRLA. I am a father, and the climate crisis is concerning for me. There is more plastic in the ocean than fish and that is something I want to influence.

Mental health is also very important. I want to focus on reducing the epidemic of suicide and mental health issues within the dentistry profession.

What advice would you give to students/alumni for success in life after King’s?

Life is short, so do what lights you up. I have moved away from the pack mentality, and I would encourage alumni to do that too. Don’t follow the herd. Be unique.