My job is a functional development role. Traditionally we have organisational development and learning development roles within Trusts but my own is slightly different in that it was set up for one professional group - finance. Now, though, we’ve extended to look after skills development for procurement as well, and we're moving eventually to supporting informatics staff.
There is a full range of commissioning, training and development to supplying mentoring and coaching to looking at talent management. Also analysing the various segments of the labour market and moving recruitment and retention initiatives forward.
It is always going to be important because we operate in an environment where we have to ensure that we have got a pipeline of qualified people in the system. We have people that are leaving, we've always had 45-50% of the finance population that aren't studying or unqualified. It’s important in terms of maintaining professionalism, transitioning the function and moving forward in a political landscape that's always changing.
I think there needs to be a dedicated function or someone looking at how we can maintain that pipeline. An example of that is our work with the leadership academies to ensure we get the graduate numbers; we work with the universities to ensure that we get local graduates coming through; we work with schools to ensure that we have a pipeline number of pre-apprentices coming through; we keep CPD for all our qualified staff and ensuring that we help them on their journey to getting as senior a position as possible in the system and ensuring that we have a succession plan in process and in place.
Winning a HFMA award a few years ago for the work we did on talent management. David Flory, at the time, was questioning whether we had a pipeline of finance directors in the system - we tested that by surveying finance directors and deputies to find out what the barriers were. Interestingly enough we found what still needs to be developed and what the barriers were in the system.
I feel my biggest achievement is where we help an individual slowly succeed into the system. An example of that is when we have our AAT graduation and we take people from not having qualifications to getting onto the qualification ladder. So for me it’s about seeing people grow and develop in the system – this is where I get my biggest sense of achievement and it’s nice to know that I was a small part of that.
I think if people had more time that would free them to be more engaged - we run a very small team, and it is difficult to juggle all the priorities and issues faced by the finance function today. We have some really good champions in the system which has ensured we have made great strides to professionalising and developing the function. But we have many challenges ahead.