When I left the NHS five years ago, becoming a non-executive was just not on my bucket list.
Although I am an NHS lifer, when I left, it was to set up my own health business with a friend and frankly it has been a blast! We have had our ups and downs but on the whole a move from the trials of public sector life, was welcomed. My own business has however given me a different perspective on public service and I think I will be a better NED for it.
My entry point into the world of non-executive recruitment has really come from other people. When I think back over my career that seems to have happened a lot! Someone has said – ‘you'd be good at that job’ and the next thing I would take a pause from what I was doing, check it out with people I rated and the next thing I would be applying for another challenge. So my first tip would be, if you are not sure about applying or have not had any luck so far, listen to what your networks are telling you and test it out with people you trust to give you a straight answer. A NED post may or maybe be for you.
So what are my tips about applying? First, brush-up your CV. Make sure your achievements are FAB. By that I mean, think about your career achievements in terms of ‘Features’, ‘Analysis’ and ‘Benefits’. Can you clearly describe what you did and what you achieved? Can you quantify it? Can you clearly attribute benefits and to who and what? This really helps when you are asked at interview ‘tell me about’ or ‘can you give me an example of when’…
My second tip, the NHS NED recruitment is normally through a recruitment company. Get to know them. If needed, invest in a meeting with a recruitment consultant. They will be able to help you present yourself in the most positive way. More importantly, if you get to a first level interview with them, no matter the outcome, get their feedback. It will really help your interview or to steer you towards future applications.
My final tip is ‘make it personal’. I know being a NED in the NHS is going to challenge me but the NHS is in my soul and has played an important part in who and what I am. It will require big dollops of energy and resilience and a new style of leadership from me. So whatever direction you go in, make sure you choose a NED role that you are passionate about. For me, I am returning to where my NHS career started. The timing is right; it feels a bit like coming home.
About the Author
Mandy Wearne MPH, RHV, RM, RN, Dip Nursing (dist)
Non-Executive Director at Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Company Director at Inspiration NW