SCREAM IF YOU WANT TO GO FASTER! My first year as CEO of NHSP has been quite a ride…

 

 

Today I celebrate my first-year anniversary since I took on the role of CEO at NHS Professionals. As I’ve said numerous times before, no one can predict the future. But even after doing all the due diligence I could, and would, before taking on a role, I could not have begun to predict the rollercoaster it has been - for me, my family at home, my family at work and, as it turned out, the wider NHS and the UK community as a whole. It has been fulfilling, tiring, challenging, humbling and motivating, all at the same time.

 

It is unsurprising to feel such an array of emotions considering recent events. Even without Covid (CV-19) in the mix though, I always knew the first year in the CEO role would be intense. It was a big task for myself and the team to take on evolving NHSP’s role and purpose within the NHS community. But I was thrilled to be offered the chance to do so after nine months as COO. So much potential to be realised and new ground to be broken, with innovations to be explored! 

 

I expected and wanted it to be a career highlight and it has not disappointed. I have however felt one set of emotions that I genuinely did not expect to be so prominent - gratitude. I'm grateful for so many things that has made year one in this role completely unforgettable, in good ways and bad - it all adds up to being thankful for so many things right now. It is this thankfulness and appreciation that I want to express today as I think back on my journey over the last 12 months.

 

A WORTHY CHALLENGE

A transformational journey for any company is often a tremendously tough one. It requires innovation, open-mindedness, fresh approaches, past experience and knowledge. It feels like a tangle that you may never unravel at times. But it was always so clear that we could add so much more value to the NHS. Together, we could genuinely make a difference to a wider organisation so important to our country. Who knew a year ago how important it would suddenly be.

 

With everything that has happened, I feel lucky to have a job that gives me that opportunity. Today I’m grateful for my CEO role and the opportunity my team and I have to get NHSP firmly on the path to fulfilling its potential to help the NHS and our community.

 

FAMILY & FRIENDS

I am a self-confessed workaholic, which not something to be proud of frankly. I must constantly remind myself of my other obligations as a mother, wife, daughter and friend. Making room for those in my first year at NHSP has been hard. I am focused on making a difference, an impact, by getting the ship "turned into the wind and pointed in the right direction". And as usual, I want it done yesterday! Without the support of family and friends, their understanding and patience, I simply could not do the job I want and need to do for NHSP. Some I have known my whole life or theirs! Others I have met on this journey. So the first thing I am grateful for is my family and friends. Saying thank you does not seem enough, but I’ll say it anyway. THANK YOU!

 

 

TEAM DISCOVERY

The first 4 – 6 months in the CEO chair, I surrounded myself with a senior team from within and outside of NHSP. I realised very quickly I had underestimated the amount of help I would need to clearly understand what we had to do to achieve the end goal. This resulted in a team with a very broad and different mix of skills and personalities, getting thrown rapidly together to get the ball rolling. It is a tough time for all when suddenly there are old and new faces around the table. I had a team that had never worked together before and a mountain of challenge to identify, let alone address. 

 

Different  people and supportive organisations came and went during this period as they fulfilled their specific remits and we pushed forward. Strong opinions and personalities came to the fore. It felt like war-time leadership at times. I was driving this team to get a foundation and roadmap for change laid down, and fast. Whilst still spinning the plates of the existing business as usual. That takes patience. Not just from me, but from everyone. Expertise, opinion, skill, innovation and passion to succeed inevitably makes for a bumpy road. But, and usually only in retrospect, I do relish navigating that road. I’m so, so thankful for my team, their hard work, their commitment and dedication. Their patience with me, with NHSP and the NHS. Because without them, we would not have been ready as we needed to be when the time came. 

 

ADVERSITY DRIVES INNOVATION

Being in the public sector was certainly different to what I was expecting. The public health sector in England has been around a very long time and that means it has a lot of moving parts and organisations that have come into play over the years. That sometimes results in silo working, duplication of efforts and inefficiencies - this can be frustrating for everyone. Then you add the unique challenges of politics and bureaucracy in the mix and it gets even tougher! All that said, the impact of CV-19 has seen much of that blown firmly out of the water. 

 

Nothing is as effective as a serious crisis to force positive change and innovation. We now have the right people around the table and are getting things done at the right pace. We have happily resolved those historic issues we used to face and marched on. NHSP is now far more like the organisations I am used to working in and I’m really happy about that for us and the NHS. This is one new normal that we will hold firmly on to, it is much more rewarding for me long term, and everyone else, I expect, too. We have banded together at NHSP and within the wider NHS and it’s brilliant to see all that potential begin to come to fruition. 

 

RIDING THE WAVE

We are running at things in short sprints, staying agile and rolling forward with determination and results. Across the wider NHS we are now starting to see the formation of a centralised plan, something the pandemic has enabled to be prioritised and fast-tracked. Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, recently commented on busting the silo working approach and working together with more agility. This is the right approach, very promising, and I’m supportive of that. The barriers that we used to face are coming down, the blockers are being moved out of the way.

 

 

So yes, what a first year it has been. To start to see the fruits of everyone’s labour, efforts, innovation and drive begin to really return dividends to the NHS is amazing. There is so much more to do as we constantly work to support our communities. It is a challenge I look forward to answering with my team as best we can in the year ahead. Thank you to everyone who has made my first year so truly unforgettable and rewarding. 

 

Bring on year two!