EoE Academy Board Blog: Martha Biza

Martha Biza, Finance Business Partner at Royal Papworth Hospital is the student representative on the East of England Finance Academy Board and HFMA Eastern Branch. In her finance academy blog, she reflects back on last year’s Rockstars and Superstars conference and encourages those studying to join the East of England NHS Finance Student Support Group.

Rockstars and Superstars Conference, September 2023

“Rockstars are team members who have grasped their role and not necessarily looking to take the next step quickly, they form a stable foundation for the team because they set the standard for new staff.”

“Superstars are the highly ambitious members of the team, they are prepared to dedicate time and energy to move up the ranks and bring new ideas to the team.”

I had the absolute pleasure of helping to organise and then attending the Rockstars and Superstars conference, which was held at the Novotel, Cambridge North in September 2023.  The conference attracted many NHS colleagues across the region with over 70 delegates attending on each of the two days.  Since the pandemic, we have all enjoyed the convenience of virtual interactions, but this conference demonstrated the massive benefit of networking in person; with the event providing the opportunity to meet old colleagues, make new friends and share ideas on personal development.

Leaving no one behind

In line with the One NHS Finance Inclusive Talent Management strategy, the Rockstars and Superstars conference had a focus on being inclusive of all staff, aiming to ‘Leave no one behind’. The event, which previously has been targeted at students and apprentices, was opened up to band 2-6’s and given the new name of Rockstars and Superstars (Stars for short).  The conference theme was all about recognising that we all go through different stages in our career, periods of rapid progression as well as periods where we are comfortable in our roles and not necessarily looking to take the next step.  In any of these stages, development is still key and the conference show-cased the wide range of development opportunities available to NHS Finance teams.

Insights from speakers

The stars conference featured a range of speakers and a panel discussion which provided valuable insights and knowledge to all attendees.  Delegates appreciated the speakers by engaging with a lot of questions during the sessions and during the breaks.  Judging from the positive energy and feedback from the delegates, all the speakers were a great hit!  Some of the highlights out of the many interesting sessions delivered over the two days were:

Regional Director of Finance, Zoe Pietrzak, gave a regional update and spoke about all the developmental programmes available through One NHS Finance. She went on to share her career story which reassured us all that we can all be successful through hard work, not matter our background.

Dawn Scrafield, CFO at Mid and South Essex FT, shared her experience of stars in the NHS and her thoughts on what it takes to be an NHS finance star: continuous learning, kindness and a positive ‘can do’ attitude.

A Health and Wellbeing session was led by Dr William Bird, stressing the importance of looking after your mental and physical health to build resilience. 

Alison Colling spoke about making the most of all opportunities, highlighting that we are in control of our own personal development and the only way to develop is by stepping out of your comfort zone.

 Eastern Branch Student of the Year 2023, Frances Freeman, took us through her journey as a student which inspired many in attendance.

Making Connections

The event kicked off with a “getting to know you bingo”, giving people an opportunity to meet everyone in the room and find out a fun fact about them. Later in the day, the East of England Student Support Group was launched at the conference, this is a platform for students to meet share ideas and encourage each other through their study journey.

Breaks between the sessions allowed delegates to interact with everyone in attendance, whilst enjoying the plentiful food provided at the Cambridge North Novotel.  The Gala Dinner presented further opportunities for people to get to know each other in a less formal setting.  Interaction between delegates continued well after the end of the conference through social media, where many delegates connected through posts on LinkedIn.

In conclusion, the Rockstars and Superstars conference was a valuable event that provided delegates with a platform to engage, learn, and grow in their academic and professional pursuits.  I am proud to have been part of planning such successful event, I made a lot of new connections one of whom has become my study buddy in an effort to support each other the final stages of ACCA professional qualification.

Your Student Representative

As your student representative, please do get in touch with me if you have any questions or suggestions where the Finance Academy and HFMA could provide more events and support. I would be delighted to hear from any students interested in joining the East of England NHS Finance student support group, please do get in touch at the email address below.

Thank you for reading,