Ambassadeur Garry Pigot

“An organization that is internationally oriented, in my opinion, naturally becomes diverse and inclusive.”
5 minuten leestijd

Who?

“In my hometown Groningen you had few Surinamese at the time. The name Pigot was quite exotic. Years later I had a patient on the operating table who asked me: “do you happen to know a Pigot who has been in education in Groningen?” So nice! Turned out it was a former student of my father's, who taught geography there in high school.” Since Surinamese independence in 1975, the parents of urologist Garry Pigot have been living in their native country again. “But if you get the chance to study abroad, you take it. With only one university, educational opportunities in Suriname are a lot more limited than here. I was lucky that I could go to Europe. Also because of my Dutch nationality. I started studying medicine in Antwerp, but after two years I was accepted at the university of my first choice: the University of Amsterdam.”

Specialty?

“A large part of my work consists of reconstructive urology, a kind of plastic surgery within urology. The profession requires creativity and a certain dexterity, with everything actually. From large abdominal surgeries where a piece of bowel is used to create urinary ostomies, to the finer work with telescope or magnifying glasses, where I suture something together. I especially do a lot of genital repair surgery in men. Think of repair surgeries after sterilization. Or with curvature of the penis due to Peyronie's disease for example, one of my specialties. The profession is not only extremely versatile, the close contact with patients also appeals to me greatly. If I place a sphincter prosthesis or male sling, a bandage, on a patient with incontinence problems, that person will stay with me for at least two years. And when I insert an erection prosthesis in a transgender man, an operation that for the time being is only performed by me in the Netherlands, I regularly see the patient again. The fact that there are so many possibilities for that relatively small part of the body makes urology so incredibly interesting to me. Sometimes, for example, I remove cheek mucosa under the tongue to reconstruct a piece of the urethra. That's just cool.”

Most proud?

“Surely I'm proud of the surgical skills I've developed. The surgeries I perform, especially when it comes to transgender people, are life-changing. I'm also kind of proud that I can really mean something to someone else. Just today I got a call from a patient. I treated him for Peyronie's disease, which is the curvature of the penis, and since then he has finally been able to make love to his partner again. He thanked me at least four times. That gives me energy, that's what you do it for. And another thing that absolutely must be said: I am extremely proud of my wife. She has ensured that I could take certain career steps, by - especially at the time of my training - taking care of the children a bit more and keeping things running smoothly at home as well.”

Amsterdam UMC aims to be diverse and inclusive. How do you feel about that?“

Do I make an organization like Amsterdam UMC more diverse because of my skin color? I don't know. The current zeitgeist has made me a bit more aware of the fact that I belong to a minority. But black or white, I've always believed that opportunities never come along. They pass you by if you don't do your best for something and live your life correctly. I have never felt that I had to do even more than a white colleague. That may also be due to my top sports background. I played basketball on a high level. Then it doesn't matter who you're up against, you want to win. That urge to perform has certainly helped me. I do think that if you stand out in any way, for example because of your skin color, your actions are more likely to be noticed. That can be a disadvantage, for example it can make you afraid to make mistakes. But it can also work to your advantage. If you excel, then you stand out even more. Because of my training and specialization, I may also have been fortunate that I ultimately had to compete with fewer people. I can imagine - and I have heard these stories in my own circles - that in a fuller pond with more candidates it becomes more difficult to stand out as a minority, or even to get a chance. No matter how hard you work. That's distressing, of course.”

What makes an organization diverse and inclusive to you?

“In my opinion, an organization that is internationally oriented naturally becomes diverse and inclusive. You see it within the Gender team. That team is not only multidisciplinary - I work with healthcare providers from psychology, psychiatry, gynecology, plastic surgery, dermatology and surgery, among others - but the origins of the people on the team are also hugely diverse. I have colleagues from India, Germany, Portugal, Belgium; you name it. This diverse team gives us a lot to work with. For example, in the area of research. We have direct lines of communication with Belgium and Germany. Together you know more. By looking beyond our own national borders, you also have a larger supply of talent. This kind of collaboration strengthens your intercultural competencies on the work floor and gives your organization international allure. I say: do

Outside of working hours?

“Right now I'm training for a triathlon. One problem: I hate swimming in cold water. But sport runs like a thread through my life. It really is an outlet for me, nice for body and mind. In Suriname I played basketball for the national youth team and during my studies I played ball at VU Sports centre. My daughter has also caught the basketball bug and is doing very well and my son is also super sporty. I am proud of my Pigots. Of course, my family comes first. Favorite family activity? Eating out and barbecuing!”