EoE Academy Board Blog: Daryl Cockman

Hi, everyone, I’m Daryl Cockman and I am the Head of Financial Development at East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust. I have worked for the NHS since 1980, although I did have a 7 year break with 2 years working for myself (NHS related) and 5 years in local government. As somebody who left school with virtually no qualifications, I have been so fortunate to have been given the support to be able to become professionally qualified, achieve a Health Economics Certificate, a master’s degree and a formal coaching and mentoring qualification. Over the years I have also been able to take advantage of lots of continuing professional and personal development which is so critical to support you to become the best that you can be.  So, not only do I support lifelong learning, I feel I have also lived the dream myself.

It’s brilliant that we now have an East of England Academy to ensure that we offer a consistent level of support to all our finance staff. When I first started getting on, accessing training was somewhat the luck of the draw, influenced by how loud you shouted and how supportive your manager was. Fortunately, I mostly had supportive managers, and even where they weren’t supportive I usually found a way of getting around any barriers.

We hear a lot these days about imposter syndrome and I certainly had that in spades, especially when I became a more senior manager. My answer was to try to develop my team to be the best that they could be, with their fantastic work reflecting well on both themselves and on me. At the time I suspect I did not think this was down to innate leadership skills, but looking back I have built some pretty successful teams over the years and eventually, I concluded that I was a pretty good people manager and leader.

At the moment there is concern about how people will thrive in a flexible working model and where the NHS finance staff of the future will come from. Career planning, career support and open and honest succession planning will hopefully help us overcome these potential problems. On the back of this, I have recently been putting in a lot of effort into connecting with local schools and colleges to promote careers in NHS finance. Meeting with young students and giving them a flavour of working in a busy, vibrant finance department is an honour; when students respond with intelligent questions, showing a real passion for numbers, problem-solving and helping people it makes you feel great for the rest of the week!  It also spurs me on to support finance teams when I’m back in the office to be the best that they can be.

Currently, staff from my organisation are supporting local schools with interview practice as many of us have experience which can help students to understand how they should conduct themselves in an interview, including thinking through the sort of questions they should be asking the panel and how to get their CV to create a really positive impression

Getting started with this agenda can be a bit daunting, but don’t worry, help is at hand.  Working with the Skills Development Network and One NHS Finance a number of NHS organisations are developing brilliant resources to help finance people go into schools and colleges and have engaging conversations with students that might be interested in finance. You don’t have to start from scratch – there are loads of resources out there that you can adapt for your own use. It would be excellent if in 12 months’ time, we could take stock on how much more engagement there has been with schools and colleges and also to measure the impact that has had on individuals who have led that engagement. We can collectively use this experience to improve the way we organise training, approach recruitment and provide opportunities to school leavers, using the apprenticeship scheme and work experience placements, for example.

If some of what I’ve said in this blog resonates with you, then why don’t you speak to your training development lead about getting involved in going out to schools and colleges and finding those CFO’s of the future?  I can promise you that visiting a school will be a rewarding change from looking at spreadsheets and by making an effort you could honestly make a real difference to someone’s future.

Daryl Cockman