Liam Gooderham, first-year Graduate Management Trainee in Finance, talks about his time on the graduate scheme.
My name is Liam and I’m a first-year Graduate in the Contract Finance team within NHS SCW’s Quality and System Performance directorate. I graduated from Durham University in Biological and Biomedical Sciences in 2020 and spent a year in scientific marketing before joining the SCW Graduate Management Scheme in October 2021.
Applying to the scheme - I was drawn to SCW’s Graduate Management Scheme for a number of reasons. With a background in Biomedical Science, I was acutely aware of healthcare from a medical perspective in respect of how treatments work, for example, but not how they were fundamentally delivered in primary care settings. SCW’s Graduate Management Scheme offered a unique opportunity to help transform the way that these treatments are provided by supporting the way health services work for patients and communities.
In the midst of a global pandemic, my desire to join the NHS and contribute positively to ensure that the very best outcomes are achieved for our population’s health and wellbeing was only enhanced. I also really liked the idea of benefiting from ‘action-based learning’, being exposed to the breadth and depth of SCW services interlinked to our designated service line, and the opportunity to gain industry-specific professional qualifications within the graduate scheme.
My role - When I joined the Finance team, I was initially worried about working within a service line that I didn’t have much prior experience in. However, the graduate scheme is designed to push you into your ‘stretch’ zone and encourage you to take the initiative to complete projects regardless of one’s background, with plenty of support in place (e.g. Graduate Buddy, Career Manager, pastoral support, etc.). Early objective setting with my line manager ensured that there was a flexible pathway in place to support my development and allow me to achieve mutually agreed goals. The nature of my responsibilities so far has allowed me to gain a thorough grounding in NHS Finance at an exciting time when the NHS landscape and policies are changing at a great pace.
Since starting three months ago, I have spent much of my time split between the Non-Contract Activity (NCA) and Small Providers teams. The NCA team is responsible for validating invoices for NHS-funded services delivered to a patient by a provider which does not have a written contract with that patient's responsible commissioner but does have a written contract with another commissioner or commissioners. The Small Providers team conducts financial reconciliation of low resource and low value contracts, often less than £200,000. Meanwhile, I am responsible for composing the weekly Outstanding Invoice Report sent to Contract Managers across SCW and running Subledger Transactions reports via the ISFE Business Intelligence Library as part of my routine workflow.
My general understanding of SCW as an organisation, NHS Finance, and the NHS more widely has increased hugely since starting on the scheme. I believe that my organisational skills, teamworking ability, and problem-solving skills have also been enhanced significantly. Meanwhile, taking part in the NHS Leadership Academy Edward Jenner Programme has allowed me to build a strong foundation of leadership skills that have helped me prepare to lead in the future.
What does SCW do well as an employer? - Working across multiple teams has been hugely beneficial for me as I’ve been able to take aspects of different workflows to streamline my own approach to tasks. I have felt fully supported from day one while trusted to carry out tasks independently when required, and all of my colleagues have been more than willing to help out at any time, even if it’s to expand on a pesky NHS acronym!
I have felt very warmly welcomed into SCW life since starting the graduate scheme from Director/Management level through to fellow team members. Everyone has made themselves available and expressed a keen interest in providing unique ways of enhancing my personal development by getting involved with other projects or even with an invite to routine Finance meetings, for instance.
There is an organisational emphasis on looking after each other and supporting each other’s well-being, something that was apparent from day one. Despite joining SCW at a time in which remote working is commonplace, I haven’t felt isolated. This has been helped by being part of a Graduate cohort in which my peers are in similar positions; we meet regularly to catch-up on each other’s projects and to support each other. The graduate scheme is a definitive part of SCW’s identity, and I believe that the success of the Graduates is in part down to the supportive community in which you are welcomed into.
Graduate scheme tip for prospective applicants - Looking back at the graduate scheme recruitment process, one tip that I would give to future applicants is to consider how SCW’s values relate to them and to emphasise this in the initial application, interview, and assessment centre stages of the application cycle. SCW’s values define everything that we do and are embedded in our culture. I believe that relaying how the values are important to you will enable you to stand out by demonstrating how you will help SCW achieve its vision and put patients first, while also allowing you to identify whether the graduate scheme is right for you.
My goals - By the end of the graduate scheme, I hope to have spent time with as many teams in as many facets of NHS Finance as possible with a view to specialising in a specific area of interest. From an academic point of view, I will hopefully have Agile Project Management and finance-specific qualifications under my belt. It would be great to improve my presentation skills too and potentially manage a project/team of my own to stand me in good stead for a career in healthcare management and allow me to put the Agile concepts into practice.
Ultimately, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with SCW so far and would highly recommend any prospective applicants to apply if they have an interest in a highly-regarded and well-established graduate scheme that will allow you to contribute to shaping a developing sector of the NHS. Apply now.