Seema Sharma, Honorary Lecturer in Healthcare Entrepren-eurship and Management, Dental Institute, King's College London; CEO of Smile Impressions Ltd and Dentabyte Ltd

If you had asked me this as an A-Level student, I would have said an economist – I wanted to make a difference and join the World Bank to fight international poverty. If you had asked me ten years into my career, I would have said an architect. I discovered a passion for renovating run-down properties and have loved every minute of working with the design teams, project managers and builders who have helped me to renovate four residential and three commercial properties.

Now, nearly 25 years into my career, I can tell you that training as a dentist and setting up my own practices has pretty much given me the flexibility to indulge both interests – property development in the form of practice ownership, and running my own charity, The Sharma Foundation, to support children living in poverty. As for my continued interest in economics? I have just completed a postgraduate certificate in teaching, joined KCL as an honorary lecturer to teach leadership and management, and started a two-year Executive MBA programme at Imperial. Perhaps Plan C will be to use this knowledge to make a difference with tomorrow's dental leaders. Anything can happen. Watch this space.

Credit: © David Tett

Jenny Gallagher, Head of Population and Patient Health, Reader in Oral Health Services Research and Dental Public Health, King's College London Dental Institute

Hairdressing or medicine – it was a close call. Medicine was an option but my fascination with people's faces and their important role in communication drew me to the head and neck area.

Hairdressing or medicine – it was a close call. Medicine was an option but my fascination with people's faces and their important role in communication was one of the factors that drew me to the head and neck area. Hairdressing seemed particularly attractive during exam time when the prospect of 'resits' felt like a fate worse than death. It could be argued that both these alternatives involved a concern for people's wellbeing, involving health and science to a greater or lesser extent (there has to be some science involved in hair colouring) – perhaps not really so different to my chosen specialty within dentistry of dental public health.

Except to be truthful there was no formal Plan B – it was 'all or nothing'! Living in Northern Ireland, my six applications (five UCAS and one Irish) were all for dentistry in four of the 'five nations' of the British Isles. The local option, Queen's University Belfast, won the day. I was tempted to study in Dublin, following my mother's footsteps, and study in the country of my birth; however, cross-border transport was regularly disrupted by the Irish troubles, making it less attractive. So Belfast it was.

Sara Holmes MBE, Professor of Dental Education and Director of the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy

I never saw myself in an academic position with an administrative role and certainly not in London; but here I am with a personal chair at King's College London. Not sure I would have had quite such an interesting career as a hairdresser!

I never actually had a Plan B. From my earliest days in school when I modelled a mouth out of clay whilst other children were making pots and ashtrays, I knew I wanted to be a dental nurse.

I have asked myself what I would do if I left dental education tomorrow and, having first filled my days with shopping and champagne, the shortlist is quite long. It includes: running a small cinema (the kind that has sofas, foot stools, blankets and a bar); a small cottage business making cheese and bread; a business selling wall paper, fabrics and up-cycled chairs, I have a mad obsession with chairs!; and a commercial beehive/honey business. It's really more a list of the things I love rather than a sensible Plan B. I think my husband is probably very happy that I love my job!

Laura Horton, Owner, Horton Consulting and qualified dental nurse

As a young girl I was a bit of a free spirit and wanted to travel the world, so I started studying travel and tourism. I was so bored! I still wanted to travel but I needed to save up the money, so I took a job as a trainee dental nurse. I never looked back!

My Plan B now would be to become a psychologist. I am fascinated by the way that our brains work, and in particular I would be interested in forensic or criminal psychology. When I was around 14, I took a real interest in crime and law, and at that point I wanted to be a lawyer. After reading about the job, I decided it was not for me, but was still fascinated by the psychology of crime. Since then, I have read countless books on the human brain and the way that we think and act, as well as crime and what causes criminals to make the decisions that they do. I find the BBC 4 All in the mind podcast series absolutely fascinating.