- Programme: Accelerated Development Programme
- Nationality: British
- Job Post-programme: CEO, MD Health Consultancy
Having trained as a doctor, Maureen was a participant of the very first Accelerated Development Programme (ADP) in 1989. Following the programme she went on to become CEO of South West Hertfordshire District Health Authority and head a number of major healthcare and social corporations. She now runs her own consultancy providing expertise to the pharmaceutical industry, medical communications agencies and the National Health Service (NHS). She is currently the chairman of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University NHS Hospitals Trust.
In 1989, I was a consultant in community medicine for a health authority, but felt that it was time for me to move from a specialist to a general management role. Traditionally, in the NHS it was difficult to shift to a leadership role if you were trained as a doctor. I was put forward as a candidate for senior management development by my CEO and was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time – just as London Business School was launching the ADP programme. I’d spent many years training to be a doctor and couldn’t take time out to do an MBA. I needed to learn fast, so this short, intense four week programme was ideal.
New ways of learning
Coming from the public sector, I was eager to gain insight into how the commercial world worked. I wanted to discover how organisations could be both constructive and top performing, and understand the theory behind the most effective business and management practices. Medicine is often taught by rote, but what and how I was taught at London Business School was quite different. Eye-opening and inspirational, it felt like a mini MBA. There were some surprising moments that were a lot of fun; I even did some rock climbing!
One unique aspect of the programme was its emphasis on how to build resilience as an essential tool when working in any high-pressure workplace. Through group exercises we gained deep insights into ourselves – how we are seen by others and how we function in groups. This was quite a challenge as I’d not experienced that in a learning environment, but vital in highlighting how my interactions impact on those around me.
Establishing my leadership style
The programme played a major part in my transformation from a medical consultant to a leader, giving me a solid grounding in key principles and creating a framework for my leadership style. I may have honed and changed the details over the years, but the crucial foundation regarding strategy, communication and behaviours is always with me.
Being an ambassador by communicating effectively, making partnerships and guiding those relationships is essential to effective leadership. I learned how to focus on the presentation of my organisation and how essential uniformity is in terms of profiles and branding. The importance of being both consistent and accountable is crucial. I recall one incident that occurred regarding patient care. Following the leadership style I was taught at LBS – being honest, apologetic, explaining to stakeholders and holding ourselves accountable, ensured that the issue was resolved quickly.
Understanding financial performance
I came to understand that whether you’re in the public or the private sector, a leader needs to understand the financial strategy of an organisation. Having the skills to analyse financial performance allows you to question or challenge data and implement creative strategies more effectively. This was quite a culture shift for me, as I realised that it’s not only the quality of care that’s important when running a health organisation, but also the commercial aspect.
ADP allowed me to construct an approach to leadership that I maintain today. After returning to work I was offered a director’s role and within 18 months I was a CEO within the NHS, running an organisation with around 6000 staff members. I went on to do another finance focused programme and other programmes in more health- oriented organisations, but ADP was by far the best.