South Asian Heritage Month

Jazz Thind, Chief Financial Officer at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust shares her experiences with South Asian Heritage Month.

Within her role as CFO, Jazz is a voting Executive Director who sits on the Trust Board and plays a key role in both decision-making and leadership and she is responsible for managing the organisation’s financial operations and strategy, reporting directly to our Chief Executive. Duties within her role includes financial planning, managing financial risks, creating financial policies, reporting financial performance, and helping to develop and deliver the strategic objectives of the Trust. Additionally, as a Trust Board member, Jazz also plays a key role in the delivery of other key objectives such as quality, safety, workforce and operational standards.

“My inspiration and motivation to take up an accountancy profession was not designed and I had no route map as to how I would become an accounting professional. The reason for doing a finance and accountancy degree was 3-fold – the options my ‘A’ levels offered me, a desire to go to university, and career choices my parents deemed acceptable!

My family are from north India (the Punjab) with my parents being first generation immigrants in the 1960s. My dad came to England at the age of 17 and was a blue-collar worker all of his life with my mum initially working from home as a machinist while she brought up 3 children and then working in the laundry company providing linen services to the NHS. It was always instilled in me that getting a good education and working hard paid off and we needed to make the most of the opportunities England had to offer us – a good education and better ‘jobs’; law, medicine, accountancy, banking were the definition of success.  As the first person to go to university in my immediate and extended family the decision was truly a leap of faith for my parents who wanted us to make the most of the educational opportunities available to us but at the same time were fearful of what this would mean. With no role models/people to guide and advise it really was a ‘blind leading the blind’ scenario and I will always be grateful for their bravery to back my decision to not get a job or get married, which was what many of my peers were having to do.

I feel I have been very lucky in my career journey. Having started in a Band 2 finance data entry role in the NHS in 1993 I had no understanding of my career prospects and how I would go about achieving them. The game changer for me were my amazing managers who pushed, cajoled and ‘forced’ me to aim for more. They not only spotted talent and nurtured it by giving opportunities to go above and beyond, they sat me down and explained what I needed to do to ensure I had the right foundations and qualifications to allow me to progress into higher banded roles.  Even with all this support and direction and gaining my profession qualification (whilst we brought up two young children); I did not aspire to become a finance director as this was for others and not an Indian female like me. Hard work, following through on the career advice and wanting to fulfil the potential I had been told I had were the key drivers for my successful career in NHS Finance. It was when one of my team members congratulated and told me how ‘proud’ he was of my appointment into my first finance director role, that I fully appreciated the value of what I had achieved not just for myself but also for others, and I made a promise to try and do what I can to help anyone that seeks my support to achieve their potential too.

To anyone wanting to start a career in finance at the Trust I would say go for it, the range of roles and career prospects are immense and the skills you gain are transferable if you change your mind. I’m always keen to support development, have career discussions, provide guidance or hand hold, but it does take personal dedication and hard work. Talents come in all forms and it is our job to spot it, encourage it to flourish and find ways to give confidence to reach for more.

Outside of work, I volunteer at my local Sikh Temple every Saturday; read lots of fiction; enjoy going to restaurants; as well as making sure I am there for those that need me, especially my family, friends and children.”