Ask me your
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Approaching the Leaving Cert, my main interest was becoming an Accountant. After completing one year in Certified Accountancy I realised that accountancy was not for me.
Following this I decided to pursue a career in Nursing. At this stage (1985) the most suitable entry point into nursing was as a Psychiatric Student Nurse. People might ask why such a dramatic change in direction. My answer would be that I was always very interested in first aid, being a member of the Order of Malta for approximately 10 years prior to this. I also enjoyed the science subjects with special emphasis on biology. I must also add that my sister was a Registered General Nurse and she would constantly recommend it as a very exciting profession.
Following success at interview for psychiatric nursing, my dad informed me that both his parents (my Grandfather and Grandmother) were both nurses by profession. So perhaps genetics gave direction in the background. Recognising that for promotion a third level qualification would be beneficial I decided to complete a BA in Public Management (Health Stream). This assisted me on to the "management ladder" within the nursing field.
After further experience at Director of Nursing level, the importance of people within the organisation became apparent. Working with trade unions was also involved and to broaden both my knowledge and experience in both, I decided to complete the Master in Human Resources and Industrial Relations in Keele University, UK. To date this course has been of great benefit in my current position of Operations Manager, National Project Office, HSE.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Initially family and friends helped me with choosing my career and influenced it's direction. Following this the work of fellow colleagues and people from other departments within the health care sector had a significant influence on my career pathway. I believe that the promotional opportunity and choice within the HSE had also a large part to play in career direction. Management at a variety of different levels have also influenced my career to date.
How did you go about getting your current job?
I am currently seconded to the National Project Office as an Acting Grade VIII - Operations Manager. The job itself was advertised both by circular and on the internet.
Application for the job was in the form of detailed application form with career history, educational achievements, reasons why you think you are suitable for the job and then the completion of competencies which are essential to the position.
After shortlisting took place, i was invited for interview. The interview itself was structured in format requiring "live" examples of where I met the competencies required for the job. I was informed by letter of my success at interview.
Describe a typical day?
Let me start by saying that no two days are the same. The role of Operations Manager in the National Project Office was a complete change in direction for me personally as prior to this most of my career was spent within the hospital setting.
If office based, I usually check in with all Team Leaders and their staff to see how "everybody is" on the one hand and to see how their particular national campaigns are running. At this stage if any difficulties come to the fore we might try to figure out the difficulty there and then, or else set out a particular time with the necessary people to make sure the process runs smoothly.
After this I would usually be in communication with my immediate manager to see what new pieces of national work needs the attention of the office and work out the logistics for this as well. As the title suggests the National Project Office has a national role in that it provides for recruitment and strategic policy development for a variety of different services throughout the country. This subsequently can involve time away from base on a regular basis.
All staff try to limit their time away by holding as many meetings via teleconference when possible, as the work back at base also needs to be completed. I'm very fortunate as Operations Manager to work with a great team of people who are very diligent, efficient, and most professional in their work practices. For this reason any new projects although challenging, are met with enthusiasm and are progressed without too much difficulty.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Main tasks would include the following,
- Implementation of National Recruitment Strategies
- Development of policies in relation to national campaign
- Liaising with both internal staff members and external stakeholders in delivering and implementing recruitment processes.
- Ensuring that work practices and recruitment campaigns run by the national project office are within legislative boundaries as set out in the Public Services Management Act and the Commission for Public Service Appointments.
- Active participation in the recruitment, retention and development of staff.
- Development of business plans when required.
- Preparation of reports / statistics / audits.
- To achieve efficiency in the recruitment process, reduce the Cost Per Hire, Time to Hire and Ensure Quality is achieved in the recruitment process employed by the National Project Office.
- Give advice and guidance to team members as appropriate.
- Promote good work practices and ensure high standards.
- Ensure good communication exists between the National Office and the Area Offices
What are the main challenges?
Main Challenges include:
- Getting things done on time
- Change Management People Management
- Keeping the recruitment process efficient.
- Remaining within budget, lowering costs.
- Ensuring the I.T. system is suitable to the needs of the National Project Office.
- Working across multiple teams when required.
- Identifying key performance indicators and adhering to them.
The HSE is a good place to work. As an organisation, it tends to "get hammered" by the press but these are usually very isolated incidents. It rarely gets credit for the majority of good things its' staff achieves.
Work within the HSE is usually very challenging and tends to keep you on your toes. You won't get bored. Due to its size, the chances of promotion are quite high if that's what you want.
However it never forces people in this direction. It supports staff through out their employment from a variety of different angles, i.e. in house training, support for further education, regular updates, staff development, appraisal if required, Occupational Health etc.
What's not so cool?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
I am interested in what I do. I am approachable as a manager and people find me to be very supportive. I like change and challenges. My work ethic is very strong in that I work to the best of my ability at all times. I have a sense of humour. I am a people's person and tend to get on well with most. Good communication / presentation skills
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Irish, English, Maths, Accountancy, Biology, Physics, French, Social & Scientific.
As already stated, my initial goal was accountancy following the Leaving Cert. The accountancy covered by the Leaving Cert was very beneficial during my first year at college. However I don't believe I had the personality to become an accountant.
Moving to my later choice of Nursing, I believe that biology was essential as it is a major part of nursing studies from the start. I also believe that experience at work itself will further one's career and may in fact lead to a change further down the career pathway.
What is your education to date?
Following Leaving Certificate I completed the following:
- Registered Psychiatric Nurse (Honours)
- Diploma in Human Anatomy Registered General Nurse B.A. HONS
- Public Management (Health Stream) Institute of Public Administration Dublin (4 years part time)
- M.A.Human Resources and Industrial Relations 2007 (2 years part time)
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
Naturally enough without the nursing courses (Registered Practical Nurse (RPN), Registered General Nurse (RGN)) I would not have been allowed to practice or register with An Bord Altranais. There are numerous post registration courses which will benefit your career within nursing. I did the Diploma in Human Anatomy in the Royal College of Surgeons as I had an interest in this particular subject.
To progress within nursing you must have a degree qualification. I decided on doing the BA in Public Management, the subjects covered throughout this course have certainly helped me both on a direct and indirect level. Some of those covered included, economics, law, social studies, European law, info technology, accountancy, etc.
My recent MA in Human Resources and Industrial Relations have certainly guided me in my most recent appointment and movement away from the nursing field. It has opened up a whole new dimension to my career that I hope will be as challenging as my career within nursing.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Completing my BA and MA.
Directing a 150 bed Hospital and gaining the respect of both staff, clients and the community in general.
Being given the opportunity to be part of the National Project Office team. It has been really rewarding to date and permitted me to change direction in career. This has been a huge motivator for me personally.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
I am approachable. I have a sense of humour. Ability to remain calm in stressful situations. Ability to communicate effectively with the teams I work with. Ability to convey that all people are respected at all levels within both the office setting and hospital setting.
I believe as a nurse, you must be kind, considerate, generous, hard working, have the ability to learn, ability to change, and take responsibility for your actions. You must constantly learn new approaches/techniques to care. You MUST be able to respond to the wishes of the patients/clients that you care for.
To progress within your career, if that is what you want, you must remain ambitious. You must constantly update yourself. You must also never be afraid to change direction. Follow your instinct and learning and what takes your interest will usually sway you towards your eventual goal. Never be afraid to change.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
I am currently working a 35 hour week. The week usually flies by, because work is quite busy at times but also very challenging. Sometimes you may have to work beyond the 35 hours but effort by employees is readily acknowledged by management.
My current job allows for adequate time off, which allows for good quality time with family and friends. It also offers ample opportunity for leisure activities and a good work life balance. So I have no excuse for "lack of exercise ".
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
Education and Training?
Advice for Others?