I have a confession…I have a bias towards Amar Latif the keynote speaker at this year’s BSAVA Congress. That’s because he has a Glaswegian accent. How can you not immediately relate to someone with an appealing Scottish accent?

But logically you should always listen to a keynote speaker if you can and the beauty of BSAVA’s hybrid event is that you can still listen, even if you missed it first time around because you were chatting to friends you hadn’t seen for years at the conference. Keynote speakers have been picked because they have something to say. But when you listen to a keynote speaker that you are drawn to you tend to listen harder, just as you have to listen harder if, like Amar, you weren’t born blind but lost your sight through no fault of your own and had to adjust to that. Although as Amar says in his presentation “…difficult moments can change the course of your life and that can be a beautiful thing…An obstacle is an opportunity with a grumpy face on it.”

Amar had to overcome various obstacles to become an accountant and go on to form his company, Traveleyes. It’s difficult enough to have a disability because this gives you enough doubt to contend with without anything else being put in your way. Amar talks about doubt, “..these doubts that we have that stop us from doing things come more from ourselves rather than the people around us.”

Amar formed Traveleyes because as he said himself, ‘if you want something that doesn’t exist you have to either do without or build it yourself.’ Traveleyes partners sighted people with blind people to provide a memorable holiday experience for folk who want to explore the world. The sighted people are not carers; it’s a partnership with travellers swapping partners through the trip.

According to Amar one of the things that makes Traveleyes work is that you need to be open to being led by one another and that perhaps is the real take home lesson for the broader veterinary team. The traditional veterinary business model always used to be a partnership. Some partnerships were rock solid, others were disastrous. It was often said that you had to take more care over choosing your partner than you spend choosing your spouse. The skills that make a good partnership work are essentially the same skills that make a good team work, and to make a world-beating team that team spirit must embrace everybody and not hold them back. If we do it, we are probably just holding ourselves back and putting an obstacle in the way of our own development.

To quote Amar “one of the perks of being blind is that you can’t see how old you look.” Time to stop worrying about all those grey hairs then and listen to what today has to offer.
You can listen to Amar on the BSAVA online platform at https://bsavacongress2022.vfairs.com/en/hall