My Sponsorship Journey

Neeraj Beeknoo, Director of ICS Pathology Business Unit, West Hertfordshire University Trust

1.What was your reason for joining the Sponsorship Programme?

The sponsorship programme is an amazing opportunity which helped me accelerate my career. It provided the support, resources, and networking that I need to gain valuable experience, contacts, and confidence. It also opened up new pathways, doors, and opportunities that helped me reach my career goals faster. It provided me with the opportunity to make a difference and have an impact through building confidence and momentum and also help to identify the right opportunities for me.

In order to do so, the sponsorship programme allocated a sponsor to me who helped to guide and support me on my journey. They also help me to identify and connect with the people who can help me to progress and reach my goals.

Sponsorship programmes brought together mentoring and sponsorship programmes together and helped me to identify and connect with the right people.

2.  What has your Sponsorship journey been like to date?

When I signed up for the sponsorship journey, I was immediately connected with my sponsor. My Sponsor was Usman Niazi and he was the CFO for South East London CCG at that time. From the very beginning, he understood my challenges and we connected fairly quickly as my journey was very similar to his. We set up regular meeting and he was always available whenever I needed help.

His willingness to listen and invest in me made me feel comfortable and confident that he will guide me towards success. He was always there to motivate me and offer constructive advice that helped me become more productive.

With his knowledge and experience, I was able to move forward and make progress in my journey. I was fully committed to our partnership and have trusted my sponsor from the start. His guidance has been invaluable and I am grateful for his support throughout this journey. Thanks to him, I have gained an understanding of what it takes to reach my goals and have connected easily with him. He is a great sponsor and a mentor.

Usman now has moved on from SEL CCG and I now have a new Sponsor who is the CFO of London ambulance (Rakesh Patel). Rakesh is also very motivated and he gives me a diversity of ideas of how to approach difficult hurdle as a leader. Rakesh is committed to this partnership, and I have regular meetings. He provides me with invaluable advice, support, and guidance which has been instrumental in helping me shape up my objectives. My journey to date has been positive and I am confident that I can continue to grow with the help of my sponsor.

3. What opportunities has the sponsorship programme provided?

My sponsor has provided a unique platform for me for connecting with leaders, taking positive steps forward in a meaningful way.

For example, attending a board meeting was extremely beneficial in developing an understanding of the complexities of the sector and gaining hands-on experience. Such exposure can also open up pathways to new positions, providing me with the chance to gain greater insight. I like to do more of these.

Furthermore I had some pertinent challenges with preparing for senior leadership interviews which my sponsor supported me. We prepared for the interview and also how to approach those in the day and in various ways it increased my confidence to challenge for senior roles which otherwise I would not have done before.

Additionally, interacting with senior staff has enabled me to cultivate contacts through networking, which was instrumental in furthering my career. All in all, the opportunities sponsorship has provided have been invaluable in allowing me to take positive steps about my future as I continue to grow.

4. What have your personal benefits and successes been whilst on the programme?

My experience on the programme was incredibly beneficial, with a wealth of personal benefits and successes. One of the most significant was the building up of my confidence and put myself forward for senior leadership roles.

I was so proud to be given the opportunity to chair events, something I had not felt confident doing before. In my current role, I chair weekly team meeting as usual, but I also chair monthly ICS wide path board meeting which senior leadership colleagues attend.

Through this programme I was able to build upon my existing skill-set, leading to a promotion and a new director job role. The network support from sponsees was also invaluable, as it enabled me to connect with other professionals in my field. I now also chair the london Sponsee meeting helping to pull colleagues together.

Overall, the programme provided me with an incredible platform to further my career and develop new skills which I am confident at using moving forward.

5. What are you aspirations for the future?

My aspirations for the future include aiming to secure a financial director role or equivalent in the next 2-3 years. This is an ambitious goal, and one that I am committed to achieving. To do this, I will focus on developing my professional skills in financial management and leadership. I am currently taking a higher diploma level 7 with HFMA and this is helping me to develop further my leadership skills.

I am passionate about leading a multidisciplinary team as a finance professional, which will give me the opportunity to apply my knowledge and experience in a challenging and dynamic environment. In order to ensure success in achieving my aspirations for the future, I will set both short-term and long-term goals. These goals will be based on developing my professional skills and building upon my existing experiences. With dedication and hard work, I am confident that I will reach my aspiration of becoming a financial director within the allotted time frame.

6. What advice would you give to those considering joining the Sponsorship network?

For those considering joining the sponsorship network, it is important to know that it is a great way to make a lasting impact in your career. Joining the network will open up opportunities for networking and professional growth, as well as increasing your awareness of issues faced by leaders and hence a way for you to prepare for your future.

As a sponsor, It gives you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people who need it most.

The sponsorship network requires dedication, determination, and a true passion for making a difference. If you have these qualities and are willing to put forth the effort, then joining this incredible network could be the best decision you ever make as sponsor and sponsee.