I spent 5 years in finance and as acting Head of Finance, doing all the bits that 'normal' finance people didn't want to do, like meddling in service redesign, training non execs in how the money flows and all sorts of other opportunities that you get in a truly matrix working environment like the one I was lucky enough to work in at Castle Point and Rochford PCT.
Then I took a look at my next career steps and concluded that I didn't want to stay on the Finance Director track and do more technical accounting as the most fun parts of my job were working with the GPs and re-engineering the system, using finance as an enabler for change. So I jumped ship, took a pay cut and moved back to Leeds to join the National Primary Care Development Team to work full time in service redesign.
After that I spent 4 years working for myself, accidentally becoming an IT person along the way, broadening my horizons and range of experience across the country as I wanted to get closer to the delivery again than I was in an 'arms length body'.
The diversity of experience I gained through these experiences has made me an unusual Director of Commissioning, with a tendency to have an opinion on everyone else's portfolio too - but my Chief Officer assured me that was an asset! It is certainly helpful to have been interested in the roles of others now that I am a Chief Officer myself.
This includes speaking to the population about what they want, gathering evidence about what works, designing and procuring services, managing performance and taking action to ensure we improve.
Because we are a small organisation I am still hands on with communications and engagement, primary care development, medicines optimisation, planning, performance, strategic development, HR, organisational development, commissioning, strategy, finance and a selection of other things. This makes for a busy and fascinating average day at work.
In my current role I get as much variety, and more importantly challenge and the opportunity to learn and stretch my brain than in any role I've had.
Equally important is working with a great team who share my vision and drive to improve the health and well-being of our population.
Plus, I finally have freedom to act which matches my level of responsibility and accountability - which actually reduces my stress levels!
Passion helps you focus on the contribution you are making, from any part of a system, even when others may not value it. That sense of purpose keeps you focused and helps when the task at hand is too dull for words.
Passion is infectious and will bring others on board to help you achieve your goals.
I'm leading on Mental Health for which I have a passion, so this is a great opportunity to implement a material change.
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