By Holly Gatfield
How I got here
Back in the summer of 2016, it was fair to say that I fell neatly into the bucket of university graduates who weren’t sure what to do with their career. I was ambitious but lacked a place to channel this energy, so I tried lots of different options. Prior to joining PPL, I worked in roles from theatre production to business development across the arts, theatre, education, and legal sectors.
I joined PPL as an Analyst in September 2021 because I wanted to apply my experience and transferable skills to a new career direction focused on making a positive, tangible impact on the world around me. Given that the health sector in the UK is currently undergoing the most significant change since the Health & Social Care Act 2012 (or arguably since the introduction of the commissioning model in 1991), PPL felt like the best place to channel some of my ‘big dreamer’ ambitions whilst also offering an entry-level role that would help me hone the skillset needed to deliver concrete outcomes for real people in health and care.
I started my week planning my time across my live projects and updating my to-do list for the week. I’m currently working across four projects, which means I get a lot of variety in my day-to-day and the chance to work directly with different clients.
I took the opportunity to work from home in the morning and used the time to get through urgent actions. This included writing up the outputs from a client workshop I attended last week, which supported the development of a set of co-production principles for a place-based partnership.
In the afternoon I went to a client site to help facilitate a workshop on Organisational Development with the Exec Leadership Team of a Place-Based Partnership (these are multi-agency partnerships involving representatives from local government, NHS, the voluntary sector and communities, which focus on joining up health and care services and improving outcomes for local people within a specific geographical place.). There were some really interesting conversations around integrating care, the best ways to secure buy in from the right people, and the challenges of leading at a system level (if you want to learn more about the latter, our co-founder Claire has recently written this blog on system leadership). I love attending client workshops; it’s where so much of our work and thinking happens. Often there’s a real buzz in the room, which allows people, organisations and partners to come together effectively and think through shared challenges creatively.
Today I worked on the final deliverable for a phase of work: a brand style guide for a Place-Based Partnership. The process of developing the Partnership’s identity has involved lots of stakeholder engagement with staff and communities. These conversations have been crucial to developing a visual identity that resonates with local people and reflects how they feel about health and care in their local area.
PPL has lots of internal groups for staff at every level to get involved with in between their client work. I’ve been a member of the comms team since I joined, so started my day creating some graphics to accompany a new PPL blog post.
A big date in all health and care organisations diaries recently has been the 1st July, when integrated care systems become statutory bodies. Understandably communication and engagement are key to making sure that staff and communities feel reassured during this change. I’ve been developing a comms pack for NHS staff in North London, which aims to outline the changes coming into effect, answer FAQs and provide targeted reassurance around what this will mean for day-to-day activity.
Today I’m writing an executive summary for a report on health inequalities that we’re working on with a client in the Voluntary and Community Sector. The report reflects the voices of local minoritized communities and sets out recommendations for local health and care services to improve engagement with these communities and their access to health and care services.
This afternoon we had our monthly Analyst Support Group, which is a peer support group facilitated by one of our Associate Directors. It’s an informal space to share and consolidate learning, ask questions and work through any challenges we might be facing. Today’s session focused on building successful client relationships – a crucial module for any aspiring management consultant!
I’m ending the week in the office which is normally busy on a Friday. We schedule our team events, meetings or training on Fridays which creates regular touchpoints to bring the whole team together in Jacob Street. Our open plan office space means there’s plenty of opportunities to catch up with colleagues informally over a coffee as well.
On the topic of team events, I’m delivering today’s Lunch & Learn. These monthly sessions are open to everyone in PPL and provide time for us to share skills, expertise, or topics of interest with the team, as well as free lunch! In recent months we’ve had sessions on Equity & Equality, Nutrition, Behaviour Change and Unconscious Bias, and my session is focusing on Visual Storytelling so there’s very few limits on what you can share!
My top tip for applying to be an analyst at PPL
Don’t worry if you don’t have previous consultancy experience! Management consultancy relies on so many transferable skills, which you will have already started to develop either at university or through previous work experience. The team at PPL is made up of people from a wide range of career and educational backgrounds, but the diversity of thought that this fosters is really exciting. And if you’re a career changer like me, it’s reassuring to know that performance art theory is sometimes just as valuable as a Masters in Public Health or a management consultancy internship.