- Programme: Senior Executive Programme
- Nationality: British
- Job Post-programme: CEO, Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust
Education and career
Mandy Seymour has a wealth of experience within the public sector environment. In 2004 she was appointed the first General Manager to pilot health and social care integration at the Torbay and South Devon Trust, where she is now CEO. Mandy completed the Senior Executive Programme in 2012.
It’s quite hard to put into words exactly what my experience on the programme has meant to me. My entire career has been spent in the public sector. I started out with a local authority working in the finance office, then worked my way up to management level and frontline delivery of services. I was then headhunted into the NHS to manage a pilot in health and social care, and I’ve been lucky enough to find a real passion for my work there.
My promotion to CEO came as a direct result of attending the Senior Executive Programme. I was already on a strong promotional track, but when I reached COO level my next step wasn’t immediately clear and my manager advised me to find a suitable executive programme. I don’t have any formal qualifications aside from a BTEC in Business Studies, so my challenge was mostly about confidence building. To begin with I felt incredibly vulnerable, but I quickly realised that my professional experiences were really valued in the classroom. Most of the participants on my course were from the private sector, so their motivation was around getting a dividend for the shareholder. When you work in the NHS it’s more about having pride in doing a really good job, or changing lives, or simply being the best at what you do. Studying in such a high-powered environment and understanding that those around me wanted to hear my contribution was incredibly empowering.
Learning to get key messages across
Leading 3000 staff means my role is all about communication. Our care in Torbay and Southern Devon is very ‘person-centred’ – we have a clear vision of what we want to achieve. It is those that work for me who are actually delivering within the community, therefore it is essential that I communicate effectively right across the organisation.
In addition, Torbay is recognised as an exemplar of integrated health and social care, so getting my key messages through at a national and international level is also critical. Several sessions on the programme really helped me with this. At one point we went to a London theatre to work with actors on breathing, speaking and emphasis; in another class, BBC journalists came in and recorded us doing a presentation. Learning how to hook people in and engage their hearts and minds is a skill I will utilise again and again.
Engaging and inspiring others
I’ve always operated, led and managed from a very personal perspective. I believe I was on the right track before I attended the programme, but since completing it, I understand the theory behind what I do and how to better engage and inspire my team.
Creating an environment where people can innovate and not be afraid of getting things wrong is so important. With evidence to back up my ideas I now speak much more resolutely about things. My promotion to CEO was the concrete outcome of the Senior Executive Programme, but it is the level of inner confidence I’ve achieved that is my real long-term gain. It was a truly emotional journey but I finally know I can do anything I set my mind to. Other people have always believed in me; now I also believe in myself.