Oh! To be a Sponsor: Guest blog by Geoff Lawrence, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust

“I was asked back in April 2023 if I would like to be a sponsor. I had been thinking about career succession for some time and what I could do to help others on their NHS career journey. When someone suggested I look at the sponsorship scheme, I searched on One NHS Finance, read the introduction and immediately responded by filling in the application form. As a Band 8C I was expecting to be matched with someone at Band 7/8A but imagine my surprise when I received an email asking me to sponsor a Band 2.

I had serious doubts about how useful I could be after all I had not been a Band 2 for almost 40 years so memories of that experience were sketchy to say the least. Although I experienced conflict within as to how I believe this could possibly work, I sought counsel and opinion from my CFO. They gave me some excellent advice using their own experience of working with a mentor several bands different. It was this and the overall experience that she had gained that persuaded me to accept. Its OK to question yourself but believe me, everyone of us has so much to share with our future finance leaders.

The toolkit on One NHS Finance is excellent, giving the prospective Sponsor and Sponsee the framework to begin the process. It outlines the differences between mentoring and being a sponsor so it is an easy read to see where you fit and what you want to take out of the experience.

My experience could not have had a more positive effect on me. Encouraging my sponsee to grow as an individual using some of my advice and tricks of the trade has been one of the highlights of my year. They were promoted to a Band 4, have showcased their experience and continue to grow as an integral part of their Trust’s Finance Team. For me, it is about encouraging our future finance professionals, exploring their talent, guiding them along their chosen career path and enlightening them along their journey. The satisfaction of seeing them succeed is immeasurable.

In fact, 2 months later, I was asked if I would sponsor someone else. That relationship although different in many ways, has started to flourish and their confidence has grown in the short time we have worked together. We meet regularly and they update me on their current endeavours as they search for that next appointment, that next opportunity to go onto bigger and better things.

Being a Sponsor has definitely enhanced my extensive skill set and given me the excitement of helping the next generation. It has improved my leadership skills, made me more confident in encouraging staff and strengthened my ability to engage with all staff at any level. In so many ways we do not often think about career succession as we get caught up in the humdrum of our everyday professional lives, but being a Sponsor has given me a new dynamic and one which I am proud to be a part of.”

Find out more about becoming a Sponsor here: The Sponsorship Programme

Geoff Lawrence, Associate Director Contracts and Due Diligence, Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust.