Aasha C.
Programme Manager (Digital Transformation)
Specialism Health Informatics

About Aasha

Key Experiences

The people, strategy, and culture bit of implementing informatics :)
I graduated from the University of Reading in 2008 with a degree in Economics (which wasn't really for me) and found myself working as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher for the Ambulance Service, taking 999 calls, assisting ambulance crews via a radio system and allocating them on calls. I became increasingly aware that the NHS could utilise technology so much more and I became drawn into the world of informatcs... I also recognised that although an accident, the NHS is where I really wanted to stay so I could help people and make a difference.

I went onto do a couple of clinical audit based roles as well as some work experience in an Information team before securing a place on the NHS Graduate Management Scheme - Informatics Stream. Since then (both on and off the scheme) I have undertaken a variety of informatics type roles in various settings including regional commissioning and the private sector (as part of a flexi placement). I was on maternity leave for the majority of 2017 and also took a short career break.

I recently joined South Central & West Commissioning Support Unit and it's a really exciting time. I am supporting the development of Primary Care Digital Transformation and am also doing some work around people and professional development within informatics. I hope that some of this work will support emerging leaders (including the graduate trainees) going forwards!

I'm also a big advocate for flexible working and very interested in exploring how digital transformation and flexible working come together. As a fairly new Mum, flexible working has been paramount to my wellbeing and career progression.

Current Position

Programme Manager
My official job title is Programme Manager and that is part of what I do - I'm currently doing a piece around national strategy and local needs to understand what we need to get from a successful digital transformation programme. There is so much good stuff out there now it's a case of trying to understand the opportunities and stop re-inventing the wheel. A large part of my role is how we change the conversation to just being about wires & boxes but the impact on culture, people and day to day work processes. As I write this i'm only about 10 weeks in but am looking forward to seeing where it goes. Digital transformation is quite a challenging place to work in with the changing landscape around us - but there are real opportunities to transform the way in which we deliver traditional healthcare.

Main Motivations

Being closer to local delivery
My last couple of roles have been quite regionally/nationally focused and while I learnt lots from doing that, I missed being closer to the front line. I actually think it's a bit of a myth that working in the CCG/CSU space is also removed from patient care - and would argue that the programmes I have supported (both the current work and neurology strategy work I have previously supported in Berkshire) felt very real and interesting. So don't discount CCGs/CSUs on that basis!

I'm also working with a really fab team based in Oxford. There's lots to do and a few of us have started at the same time, but there is a lot of positive energy which is a great place to be in!

Top Advice

Use feedback, do not assume, be yourself, one size doesn't fit all
Utilising Feedback: I had an unsuccessful application to the scheme in 2009 but having reached interview stage I was able to get verbal feedback. It was really useful and I acted on it to support a future application.

Do Not Assume!: I find this particularly applies to working with clinicians, and as an informatics professional - it can be so easy to assume a solution for them. It's so important to work collaboratively and use their expertise when developing solutions. Informatics led solutions without the right engagement will not work properly. You risk creating solutions for a problem which does not exist, resulting in cumbersome workarounds. Never ever ever assume you know someone's job better than them. Sometimes it's very powerful to just observe rather than ask targeted and weighted questions.

Be yourself! If you're trying to be something you're not, then maybe the NHS isn't for you.....

Finally - one size doesn't fit all, and just because your ideas about what sort of roles you want to do don't fit the mould, it doesn't mean they are wrong. The graduate scheme is a great platform to explore different roles and develop a range of skills. It's important to recognise what you do and don't enjoy so you can make the most out of it and inform your career choices going forwards.

Greatest Achievement

Delivering babies, my MSc and raising the profile of flexible working
1. I think I will always have delivering a baby over the phone at the top of my list! I did this in my first ever NHS role and it was absolutely incredible to be a part of that (the ambulance arrived shortly after!).

2. I decided to complete my dissertation post scheme to gain my Masters award. I worked incredibly hard (and was pregnant for half of it!) on the project which looked at the digital expectations and experiences of university students. I was awarded the annual prize sponsored by Cerner and it was published in an online journal in 2018.

3. I struggled a lot with my identity and managing career progression with work/life balance once I had my daughter - as many parents do. I don't think I have all the answers yet, but through being open and honest about it I've helped to develop a great network around me and together some of us have supported a @FlexNHS platform. It's a really exciting opportunity to explore and promote cultural change through shared experience. I feel I've been able to turn a difficult and challenging time into a positive thing.

NHS

Whatever your future leadership ambitions are, the NHS offers a fantastic start with a variety of challenging placements in an organisation that is wholeheartedly determined to provide equal opportunities to all employees. Selection for the scheme is based solely on aptitude and ability to ensure we have the best leaders for the NHS.

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