I then embarked on a weird and wonderful array of careers, including managing a printing company, setting up a seaplane company in Greece and working as a recruitment consultant. Whilst I enjoyed them all, somehow nothing quite felt right.
However, career aspirations had to take a complete backseat when I fell seriously ill with a rare condition. Although I made a full recovery, my experience of the NHS wasn't great. It was difficult to access the care that I needed because the specialist centres were in other parts of the country, and local services weren't always as good as they could have been. Recuperation took several months, so I had a lot of time to think about what my next career move would be. It wasn't until I saw an advert for the Graduate Management Scheme that things seemed to click into place. The job itself seemed really varied and interesting, but it would also allow me to utilise a new found passion - ensuring that other patients did not have the negative experience of care that I had.
5 years on, and I can safely say it is the best move that I ever made. I am surrounded by others who share a deep desire to continually improve the care we give to patients, and doing a job that I love. Each of my roles in the NHS has been challenging, yet exhilarating, and you can leave work everyday knowing that you have done something to make things that little bit better.
Patients tell us that they can find the health system really difficult to navigate, and that it is not always responsive to their needs. We want to change that. We are creating new networks which will bring together all of the providers of health and social care services so that we can work together to deliver more joined-up services, which have a real emphasis on helping people keep well, as well as treating them as quickly and effectively as we can when they become ill.
But we know it can be even better. Improvements in technologies and treatments offer huge opportunities, but finances are tight. We also have an aging population, which means that services are in greater demand than ever before.
We know that we need to be more efficient in what we do to meet these challenges, and that it is not going to be easy. But the potential rewards are astounding. If we can redesign services so that they are fit for the years ahead we, our friends and families and the communities in which we live would all benefit.
But it is an absolute privilege to work for an organisation that is not driven by profits or sales targets, but by helping people get and keep well.
There is no such thing as an 'identikit' NHS manager, but you would definitely need to be someone who enjoys thinking on your feet, being creative and works collaboratively to achieve shared goals. You need to be a good communicator, and not be afraid to be thrown in the deep end. The scheme is great at giving support, but you will put in a 'real job' from day one.
I would recommend the scheme to anyone. For me, and for so many of my friends and colleagues, it was truly fantastic, and has opened the gateway to a fulfilling and worthwhile career.
But I don't really believe on resting on my laurels. There is still so much that I want to achieve, and so much we can do to improve patient care and experience. There are lots of things that I am really proud of, but there is still so much to do.
Ask me again if we manage to transform the care we deliver in our communities...
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.Visit website