Studied: Level 3 Business Administration, BA Hons Leadership and Management/Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship Standard
Progression: Directorate Manager for Older People and Rehabilitation at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust
The Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship is the most recent step in Bal Lelli’s 10-year learning journey which has taken her from Level 3 to Level 6 studies. It is this degree which she says has been the making of her as manager to 80 staff across The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust’s patient services teams.
“If I’d gone into this Assistant Directorate Manager role without studying the degree then things would have been a lot different for me professionally,” said Bal. “I would have been so overwhelmed by some of the challenges I faced that I might have changed my mind about the role and taken sick leave; something I’ve never done during my 21 years with the NHS.
“With the help of the degree, I’ve managed pressurised situations, purely because I’ve been equipped to deal with them; including making to-do lists, self-reflecting at the end each working day and encouraging my team to feel empowered within their roles.”
She continued: “Learning about different leadership styles and when to use particular ones, such as being autocratic or transactional has benefited me too.”
Bal shows no sign of slowing down. A Masters Degree in management is next on the cards. She is also interested in learning BSL as a way of supporting the hearing impaired and deaf patients she comes across, as well as their families.
Her studies first began when she was working as a Band 2 Orthotics Administrator with Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust. She completed Level 2 and 3 Medical Terminology qualifications and a Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship, followed by a Level 4 – Higher Apprenticeship in Business and Administration. These resulted in promotions to Band 4 Discharge Facilitator and then Band 6 Stroke Co-ordinator.
“Each of my courses has made me hungry for more,” said Bal, who joined The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust in February 2020; right before the emergence of Covid. “I’ve gained so much knowledge and developed a range of skills each time I’ve completed a qualification.”
Her efforts have continued to pay off, with Bal achieving a Distinction grade and first class honours for her degree.
“I’ve come full circle,” added Bal. “In the past, I’d been a leader, but not a manager.
By that, I mean I would encourage and work with my teams to achieve our goals but wasn’t always sitting with them, seeing things through their eyes so we could resolve situations together.”
This two-way process has helped to improve retention, absenteeism and morale across her teams. Bal’s confidence has improved too.
“I walk into meetings and know I’m equipped to deal with any issues that come up,” said Bal. “Three years ago, I would have been nervous or would have questioned my abilities. I realise now that you can be both a good leader and a manager and I can do this.
“The government has been looking closely at performance management within the public sector and has high expectations. This doesn’t phase me. From the work-based projects on the CMDA, I understand how to identify issues and go about achieving a resolution, stage by stage.
“I always come into work feeling motivated and think my teams feel this way too.”