Iyoni Ranasinghe, Senior Consultant
Could you describe your role at PPL and how you came to join the company?
I moved into consulting after nine years in the NHS as a frontline clinician. I worked as a Mental Health Nurse on various psychiatric wards before moving into research. I then became a Clinical Team Leader and an NHS Ambassador and Governor. At that point in my career, I wanted to work on changing healthcare on a wider scale and I knew consulting was where I could do this effectively. A friend recommended PPL to me as a company where I could flourish as I would be able to both transfer my existing skills (such as stakeholder engagement, change management and facilitation), and also continue to develop. Of course I no longer manage a ward full of patients, but sometimes managing projects can be just as demanding!
Since joining PPL I have been involved with changes to the healthcare system, including development of Integrated Care Partnerships where I’ve been leading the mobilisation of a rapid improvement programme across partner organisations. I have also trained my colleagues on the wonders of coaching, written blogs for our website and become a devotee of a cake shop near our office!
What does a standard week on a project look like for you?
It is rare for my weeks to look similar – apart from in the mornings when I am staring out at the Tube tunnel, squashed up against the window by my fellow commuters; that always looks pretty similar wherever I’m going! Currently I am working on mental and physical health pathway integration between two partner organisations who historically have worked in silos but we like a challenge!
I work with all kinds of people from frontline staff to NHS Trust executives. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy consulting. There is a definite underlying skillset to build and rely on, but then each project and each team you work with have their own quirks that keep you on your toes!
On my current project, our usual working practice is to spend Monday through to Thursday on client site to ensure we bring the client along as we co-produce the solution. The internal PPL team on this project get together at least once during the week to discuss project progress (including risks) and the actions to be completed by each of us.
From the client side, we have weekly meetings with the Trust executives who are sponsoring the project. We also often have back-to-back meetings with stakeholders in the week to help inform the workshops we deliver with them. Some of the workshops have been tricky as change is difficult, and the work asks people to change their mindsets and discuss the elephant in the room, culture. However, these workshops have been powerful and the attendees have agreed solutions to barriers that currently prevent organisational collaboration. This has also been a great opportunity to work closely with the Trust executives and their senior team, particularly as the work involves sensitive areas such as changes to the skill-mix within teams.
We try to spend Friday at our office to catch up with our PPL colleagues. The office is always a fun place to be, whether I’m winning ALL the Lindt in a Valentine’s Day chocolate hunt or taking part in office quizzes!
What would you say to someone who is thinking about consulting as a career?
I would highly recommend consulting as a career for those interested in whole system improvement. There is always excitement around starting a new project and the opportunity to learn something new, which in turn makes you better equipped for the next project. Despite the intensity, there is a good work-life balance with lots of company social activities – there is never a dull moment!