Name: Frieza Mahmood
Degree and university: Aston University Business School – BSc Human Resource Management (2005)
Work Title: HR Manager, Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust
The NHS takes a broad view of diversity and is working in partnership with Rare and EmployAbility, aiming to increase the diversity of its graduate programme intake.. The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) recognise this, awarding the NHS the ‘Best Of The Best’ and the ‘Graduate Selection and Assessment’ awards in 2007, competing against the 700-strong membership of graduate recruiters and employers from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Awards and accolades have not led to complacency though, and the NHS is actively addressing the question of why there are relatively few people with a black and minority ethnic (BME) background at its most senior levels with its ‘Breaking Through’ programme. The NHS is currently ranked fifth in The Times Top 100 Employers 2008, and is the highest placed public sector employer listed. It’s also second in the Financial Times’ ranking.
Why did you decide to join the NHS? I worked as a Trainee HR Manager for Cadbury Schweppes as part of my year in industry at university, and enjoyed the challenge of this immensely. But I found roles within the company to be very specialised, which limited scope for involvement in multiple HR disciplines, and it was difficult to see the direct impact you had on the business. By contrast, the NHS offered a vast variety of HR work, from operational support to involvement in strategic HR projects. Also, it was clear to see the direct impact good quality HR practices had on patient care: I felt sufficiently inspired by this to apply for the Graduate Management Training Scheme.
What is it you actually do? I started as an HR Officer for Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust, which was my first host organisation on the Scheme, and I gained my current role after graduating from the Scheme earlier this year: Now, my responsibilities include being the lead HR Manager for the Division of Unplanned Care, providing a full range of operational support on everything from performance management to employee relations, as well as working as a strategic business partner for my division. I am also the Trust’s HR Lead for ‘Improving Working Lives’ (IWL), a Department of Health initiative designed to enrich employees’ experiences of the environment they work in.
What have been the highlights of your career so far? One of my proudest achievements was a community challenge event that I took part in with West Midlands and Northern trainees in Moston, Manchester: We completely renovated an old church hall and community centre in 24 hours, on a budget of zero! We managed between us to get local organisations to donate furniture, paint and even food, which allowed us to prepare a special lunch for the local community to launch the revamped building. We were exhausted by the end of it but couldn’t have been more proud at seeing the smiling and appreciative local residents, and were overwhelmed by the generosity of the businesses in the area.
Another significant achievement was being involved as the HR lead in a Service Review Investigation into residential rehabilitation Mental Health Services in Solihull, while I was working at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust. This involved actively engaging with Service users and staff to identify real issues and propose effective recommendations to address them.
How does she see her career progressing? I can see longevity in my career in the health service. I feel passionate about the job that I do and am ambitious enough to want to excel as far as is possible. I’m confident that hard work, commitment to values and innovation will be able to support me in this. In five years I hope to be an established Head of Human Resources in a Foundation Trust, building on the successes of the past to enable me to take the next step to become a HR Director.