A week in the life of a Rachel Volland, Managing Consultant (August 2023)
I joined the Transformation Unit in January 2023 having sought out an organisation that aligned to my personal values of honesty, respecting people, acknowledging and utilising skills and experience to take on responsibility, and working collaboratively in partnership. The TU offered me these and the opportunity to strengthen my career path in Programme management, large scale change, Quality Improvement (QI) and system engagement/development in the NHS and Voluntary, Charity, Faith, and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) sector. Examples of my previous work are:
- development and operational running of Dementia United, Greater Manchester’s strategy for dementia,
- strategic framework development supporting locality leaders from an NHS group to develop focus, opportunities and governance for pan-locality working,
- oversight of a safety portfolio to improve services, health and welling in Salford (Safer Salford),
- management of Stroke 90:10 - a Northwest stroke improvement and research programme,
- system Transformation lead for programme management of the award winning Healthier Together public consultation (2014) and subsequent High Court Judicial Review in 2015.
Since joining the TU I been involved in a range of work including conducting a review at a children’s hospice enabling the leadership team to take informed action to develop their change and project management approach, developing an expression of interest to carry out an independent review of health care services, offering advisory support to the operational office team for the Association of Groups network and acting as delivery lead supporting an ICS with some Elective Recovery work.
Alongside programme delivery, I am supporting the TU’s Quality and Performance portfolio as we strive to continuously improve the internal systems we use to support and manage our work. My role is to review and develop documents, processes, and materials as well as drawing on my interest in understanding and fully utilising the networks and connections members of the TU have to support our business development function. I also actively engage in opportunities to connect with colleagues including our weekly check in’s, whole team trainings/days and our regular programme of TU Talks.
A typical week
My non-working day, which until September 2022 was to look after one or both of my two young boys before they started school. The child free six hours I now find myself with gives me the opportunity to better keep on top of family/home admin, household chores and planning/prep for my long-term volunteering with Girlguiding. This time is so valuable and sacred it means I have more quality time with the boys when they are not in school.
- 7:00am – 7:30am - I start my full-time working week in my home office catching up on e-mails that have arrived from late Friday afternoon, the weekend and Monday. I also check and update my task-list and calendar for the week ahead to make sure I am prepared. It’s amazing how much you get done between 7- 8am when e-mail traffic and MS Teams messages are quiet.
- 7:30am – 8:15am - I supported one of the team with some data queries and analysis acting as a ‘virtual’ sounding board so she could test thinking and ideas whilst trying to unpick a complex ask for a client.
- 8:15am – 10:00am – TU’s annual report editing, this whilst challenging for me personally has been a great opportunity to work with different members of the team and get a greater insight into the organization and all that has been achieved in 2022/23. Two of us have been responsible for reviewing content from a range of sources to ensure consistency in tone, formatting, and messaging.
- 10:00am – 12 Midday – Attended the monthly Whole Team Meeting face to face in the office today. Always a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues, receive updates, raise challenges/concerns and hear about work that is underway.
- 12 Midday – 1:15pm – From here I headed to an internal team meeting with two of us in the office and one joining remotely. We utilised the wonder of technology and were able to have a useful meeting discussing progress, challenges, and ideas.
- 1:15pm – 2:15pm – I had to grab a quick bite to eat on the run today because my youngest son needed to be seen by a doctor, which was unplanned. This caused a diary clash, but I flagged with the team who, as always, were supportive and encouraged me to join if I could.
- 2.15pm – 4.30pm – Time for some focused desk top research and review of material about Surgical hubs at both system and NHS level. Taking time to develop understanding and become informed is key in the work we do, so I find blocking time in my diary to do this really helps.
- 4:30pm – 5:15pm – Weekly client meeting enabling me to check in with the client lead, update on progress, discuss issues and actions. This dedicated planned time is so valuable.
- 5:15pm – 6:15pm – A check in with the team on the annual report and a little more editing before completing my timesheet and signing off to collect the boys ready for homework, cubs and eventually a brew and catch up with my husband. A busy and intense day but full with lots of variety and great conversations.
Today was focused on the Annual report editing interjected with a couple of meetings. Firstly, with a previous client about some potential further support they require. We discussed the project they need support with, explored timescales and what skills required. We agreed we would produce an outline proposal that they could review by early next week. Secondly our internal Quality and Performance team which I have been asked to join. Hearing and being involved in TU’s internal work is key to my development and the organisation’s success. Quality and Performance is one of many opportunities available to me. I chose to focus here because of its alignment to my annual personal objectives.
- 5.30pm - I sent out a few emails and completed my timesheet then head out to play football in the garden with the boys before having tea and winding down for the evening.
Another varied day which included starting to develop the proposal requested yesterday, reviewing business papers for the delivery team running a national network, annual report editing, a data pack review and sounding board for one of my colleagues and a 30-minute internal project team meeting
I also managed a quick walk at lunchtime and enjoyed being in the fresh air and stretching the legs.
- 09:30am – 10:30am – Our Friday check in is one of the highlights of my week, a virtual check in with those in the TU team able to make it. A business update is followed by team members highlighting their focus, challenges and achievements for the week and plans for the weekend.
- 10.30am – 12.00 Midday – A quick catch-up call with my Assurance Director for our work around Surgical hubs then onto to some Programme Management for the work – my bread and butter. I feel very comfortable and relaxed here even though there is lots to do.
- 12 Midday – 2:30pm – A change in focus working as I spent some time working on a Reference pack for one of the networks that the TU supports.
- 2:30pm – 3:00pm – I spent a few minutes wrapping up my inbox and getting ready for next week which included a plan for the week ahead writing out my full to do list then pulling out the two key items, I want to achieve each day.
- 3:00pm A 3pm finish was agreed as part of flexible/compressed hours working pattern (if business need allows) so I can collect the boys from school.
- 5:00pm With the boys are home and settled, I took a few minutes to reflect on another varied but fast-paced week and ensured my timesheet was correct before submitting. That is a wrap for the week.