From boardroom to playroom… (and trainee to project manager)

Posted by: Hailey Pottinger - Posted on:

I’m now in the final three weeks of my placement and it is really starting to dawn on me that I’m going to be leaving and starting somewhere new! I’m sad to leave some really great colleagues behind, and slightly scared about starting in a brand new organisation, but I am also excited to start a new placement with 11 months more knowledge to my advantage!

I thought I’d use this blog to reflect on one of my biggest achievements during my time in my current placement. Those of you who follow my blog may have read that one of my key projects this year has been to project manage the transformation of an office building in to a nursery! Well, the nursery is now open, looking fabulous, and up and running which is great. We’ve gone from a plan on a page to a real life building that you can touch, and to know I’ve had a big part in that is fab. If you’d have asked me a year ago if I could achieve this then I would have definitely said no!  We’ve got some lovely new staff starting, we’re having new children start each week, and the project is now starting to wrap up. I’ve learnt absolutely loads about project management, design and planning, the logistics of expanding a business, marketing, how to run a nursery, managing project budgets and most importantly building relationships and working with others. The support I have had from the nursery staff, capital and estates managers, and HR has been so brilliant, and I’m grateful that my manager trusted me to take this project on, despite my initial lack of experience.

It has been challenging. We had a very tight time scale, which in the end we couldn’t stick to due to a delay in the tender and building process. There is pressure on me and the rest of the team to ensure the nursery performs well and is well occupied to ensure that the Trust gets a return on investment, which again is really hard to control when you’re on a strict budget and you don’t have a marketing manager! The way the NHS works doesn’t always lend itself to marketing businesses, and we don’t have many people with specific marketing experience (and the time) to help us, so this has been a major learning curve. We’re still going with this one, but I’ve actually really enjoyed the marketing side of things, and I’m keen to learn more.

At first this project felt strange, as the service isn’t seeing ‘patients’ as such, and it wasn’t what I expected to be doing on the NHS graduate scheme. A key ethos in the NHS is to ‘put patients first’, and as the nursery isn’t seeing patients, I wonder how many of my colleagues see it as a ‘low priority’ part of the organisation. However, as my manager pointed out, by ensuring that children have the best possible start to life, how many potential health and social complications are we preventing down the line? Also, by helping the Trust run a business, which has the potential to be a source of income, I’m helping to secure the future of the Trust overall which is definitely good for patients.

I’ve been trying to challenge the way people perceive the nursery, and get them to think of it as a business and act accordingly. After all, we are competing with the private sector here. As I’m new to the NHS, I think I’ve been in a good position to try and help people see it in another perspective. The project has been really rewarding and I’m sad that I won’t be around to see the business flourish and grow. But… on to pastures new!

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