HCP Staff Interview – Sarah Westwood

Can you tell us about your role at HCP Sarah?

Sarah Westwood – My role is Regional Manager looking after a number of projects, a mix of health and schools, covering East Anglia, the Midlands, London and Exeter.

What has been your career history to get to this point?

I started in the NHS a long time ago managing contracts and worked in that for several years, including roles as IT and Change Project Management. In 2002 there was an opportunity to move into managing the PFI contract for the NHS, so I did that for a few years and moved to HCP (Company) as GM for the Peterborough and Hinchingbrooke Projects in 2011.

In your role as Regional Manager, what’s your focus now and in the near future?

The focus has very much changed since I’ve been at HCP. Statutory and contract compliance has increased significantly. The focus for us in Operations is compliance, going back to basics, checking the contract, making sure that our General Managers and the teams working on the projects are ensuring that the service providers are doing what they needs to be in terms of the contract and protecting the investment and that we support them with this. Which is primarily what we’re here to do.

Outside of the main role you do staff development and mentoring, now you are working with Rachel Willett. How is that going?

For me, it’s important to encourage and develop people within the organisation. I’ve been fortunate in my career in that I’ve had mentors and managers who’ve encouraged me to progress and supported me with that. The mentoring feeds into that and I find it really rewarding, it’s good to share ideas and watch people develop. I’ve also been working with Neal Devoil, we set up the junior development programme in 2018 and to date over 50% of the attendees have progressed to a more senior role which is fantastic. There’s nothing more rewarding to see people within the organisation who want to progress and with some encouragement and the right tools they have the confidence to help them make that step. We’ve got some real success stories of that in HCP and for me that’s exciting. People are so important to what we do and our success.

You’ve always been really involved in that I’ve noticed.

I get a real buzz when somebody has progressed, I think it’s important to the business and what we do.

Have you had any career mentors who have benefitted your work life?

I’ve had two or three career mentors, one within the NHS who championed me. It’s her who helped me see what was possible. Two women within the NHS mentored me and then when I came to HCP, I’ve had good support from several people. It’s important to take that step back to look at you and what you need and how you can develop, and mentoring provides that. It gives you a different perspective, asking for different ways of thinking about something. And it challenges you to think differently. I find that useful.

It also gives you permission to take a step back and have an hour or however long it takes to have a chat with somebody and personally I’ve gone in not being sure what I’m going to talk to them about and then you just start talking and it leads down a certain path and I come out thinking that’s excellent, I’ve got a plan.

You’re obviously very busy, how is your work life balance?

Work life balance is good, and I try hard to make sure to have time for me, I’m not a sitter really, I like to be busy. Life is two boys, 14 and 12 so they keep me busy and I go to the gym as much as I can to rid of the day to day stresses. Going out with friends, socialising. I also used to teach karate.

That’s awesome, a secret Miyagi!

Have you got any advice for new starters coming into HCP?

Try not to be stuck in a silo if you’re working on an operational project, make time to talk to other colleagues and find out about what’s going on. Sharing best practice and asking for help is important. There are lots of opportunities within HCP so if you’re ambitious make sure people know that and are aware of what your career aspirations are.

And, the final question… what would you most like people to know about you?

What people get at work is what I’m like all the time really, what you see is what you get. I haven’t got anything hidden. I think you get two types of people and sometimes people are quite different at work to how they are when they’re out. I’m not because that’s me and if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work.

That’s the great thing about HCP, there’s a lot of different people and different views are accepted, it’s not a stuffy corporate business and I think that’s what makes it good.

(Interview by Ellie Rowland-Callanan)

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