What I did after completing the Executive MBA

28 September 2021

Hear from former Executive MBA participant Jann Gardner, who only one year into her post as Chief Executive of NHS Golden Jubilee found herself leading the organisation through a pandemic.

Undertaking the Executive MBA at Warwick Business School was a fantastic experience, gaining benefit from high calibre teaching and studying alongside an exceptional group of individuals. In particular, my specialism of Innovation and Entrepreneurship challenged and evolved my thinking and indeed leadership, as I transitioned to the role of Chief Executive of NHS Golden Jubilee (NHS GJ).

NHS Golden Jubilee, is a unique organisation spanning across a diverse portfolio including the GJ Hotel & Conference Centre and Research & Innovation Institute.  At the core of the organisation is the National GJ Hospital providing world class care across a range of specialities including heart transplant, robotic surgery and extensive intensive care services. Since taking up the Chief Executive role I have had the privilege of developing the portfolio, establishing the innovative National Centre for Sustainable Delivery and the joint venture NHS Scotland Academy in addition to guiding the organisation through a £100 million capital development program.

However, one year into post the NHS was hit by the global Covid tsunami and I found myself leading my organisation into the realms of the unthinkable. Agile service development has been critical to help us respond to the growing system pressures. I recently read a HBR article which guided us to learn from the Cheetah – not only for its pace but also for its ability to stop and turn and I recognised the parallels with our ability to adapt at pace. Our staff have been incredible responding to new ways of working, often requiring the use of multi layered PPE and changing their location or indeed clinical specialty to respond to the most pressing needs. The patients experience has also changed – leaving family or friends at the door and being cared for by faceless ‘smiling eyes’ hidden behind masks and visors. None of this has been easy and it has taken its toll. I am incredibly proud however of the daily commitment of my staff despite all of this. Every day, no matter what their own challenges, they provide high quality care with compassion and kindness to patients, families and colleagues.

Leaving the Executive MBA I had so many plans. If someone had asked me to pick words that reflected those plans I would have said…. ‘Ambition, Drive and Innovation’. I am more grateful than ever for the WBS experience, as the skills, learning and relationships, now  form my daily leadership approach. 

Even in the most challenging of years, I am privileged to lead a team that are so patient focused, innovative, flexible and committed to finding ways to continue services and treat as many people as possible.

Even with a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, I am conscious of the impact all of this has had on what we call #TeamJubilee. The health and wellbeing of staff continues to be foremost in my thoughts and actions and their ongoing resilience is a priority for me. It’s been tough for a number of reasons – professionally, personally, socially. We also need to recognise that we may not yet fully know the impact of this on everyone.

What I do know is that we are working hard on remobilising Scotland’s NHS services. To that end, I’ve been tasked by the Scottish Government to lead the new national Centre for Sustainable Delivery which will play a vital role in supporting Scotland’s national efforts to remobilise, recover and redesign towards a better health care system.

Building on significant progress and developments that have already been made through redesign and transformation, the Centre will support the rapid rollout of new techniques, innovation, and safe, fast and efficient care pathways for Scotland’s patients. We want to make NHS Scotland the best healthcare system in the world, and to achieve this we need to focus on sustainability, value, innovation and listening to our patients.

But we cannot treat patients in a different way without also looking at our healthcare skills mix. NHS Golden Jubilee is leading on the soon to be launched NHS Scotland Academy - an exciting new concept to offer accelerated training for a wide range of health and social care roles and professions.

The Academy will support NHS Scotland to develop additional capacity and new capabilities. It will add to existing educational programmes and respond to evolving and emerging workforce needs. By addressing recruitment gaps and training needs, it will help ensure the health and social care workforce is prepared for future needs in Scotland. 

It's been an interesting time for all of us, and I’m excited to lead NHS Golden Jubilee and see the difference we make to healthcare in Scotland in the months and years ahead.

The pandemic too has taught us a great deal. For me, that people matter more than anything and today my leadership journey continues reframed. Today I do so through the lens of ‘Resilience, Kindness and Hope’…….and perhaps be a bit more ‘Cheetah Like’ too.

Find out more about our Executive MBA programme here

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