Case study – Kane Sullivan (GMTS)

Posted: Tuesday, 3rd April, 2018

Why were you interested in joining the NHS graduate management training scheme?

Before joining University, I had a real interest to do Medicine. I’d always been interested in science and healthcare but never committed to the idea of it and chose against applying. Instead I completed a first-class honours degree in Biomedical Sciences. When finding out laboratory work wasn’t for me, I wanted to ensure the next steps of my career remained within the health sector. The NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme stood out above all else as an opportunity to use the skills I had already learnt to make real change for people. There isn’t a scheme out there that can offer such possibilities to actually make a difference to people’s lives in such a tangible way and looked extremely rewarding. It offered exciting career development and progression opportunities and since applying, I’ve never looked back!

What talent do you bring to the role and the wider NHS? What leadership qualities do you think a scheme like this instils and develops?

I think we all bring our own individual talent but all have similar strengths necessary to be on the scheme. Personally, I think I am able to bring an inquisitive mind and ambition to do the right thing – doing the right thing is not to be underestimated in this career. I really enjoy working and learning from others, in order to get the best out of them and myself. This is an important quality as a manager in the NHS as there is so much reliance on effective team working.

The scheme has developed me considerably as a leader. I wouldn’t say I was the most resilient person in the world before joining but it’s one area of my leadership that has improved dramatically and in today’s NHS is important to have when the pressure on you increases.  The scheme also maintains the focus as an NHS leader of what we are all there for – patients.

What do you hope to achieve in terms of your development and career over the coming 2-3 years and beyond?

In terms of my education, I would love to complete a Masters in Healthcare Leadership – topping up the Postgraduate Diploma I would have achieved on the scheme. I am also interested to undertake a financial qualification as to be a good NHS leader under today’s constraints requires a solid knowledge of finance.

I plan to remain in operational roles over the next 2-3 years to continue improving my understanding of the acute sector, while putting my leadership skills into practice. I really enjoy the pace of hospital managerial roles and you learn something new every day. I am certainly keeping my options open though, as I’m sure there are opportunities that would develop me greatly and that I could hopefully offer a lot to, outside of this sector.

As someone who may be viewed as an emerging talent and possible future leader in the NHS, why do you think it’s important to have schemes like this one and attract, retain and develop talent in the NHS? Why is it needed? What would happen if we didn’t?

Schemes like this are essential in harnessing ambitious and dedicated individuals. It’s not about creating the best managers or the best analysts, it’s about fostering the leadership qualities in trainees that will go on to lead the NHS during its toughest period. Those who apply for the NHS Graduate Scheme know the challenges that lie ahead but are determined to be a part of it and contribute to improving patient care. The alumni networks that come from this scheme are really valuable for retaining talent as there are opportunities to build networks and seek new partnerships for your career. Retaining talent is possibly the most important part but most people that join this scheme, do so because it fits their personality, values and beliefs and so end up staying. Without the scheme, the NHS would struggle to produce the necessary leaders to support clinicians to do their roles. We would lose ambitious individuals that could provide new ideas to entrenched ways of working that are proven to be inefficient. But most importantly, we would lose people that care about what they do and are 100% dedicated to it.

What does success look and feel like to you? How will you know when you’ve achieved it?

It is difficult to know what success looks like. I think no one will ever achieve ultimate success and we all view life through a different lens but I consider success anything I am proud of that I achieved or was involved in. It is nice to hear from others when you have done well and recognition or praise is always good for confidence but knowing I am proud of my work is the best feeling. I’m very self-critical so this isn’t something I feel often but it keeps me striving to do my best each day that I progress through my career.

What has been the most impactful conversation you’ve had about your career to date?

During my first placement on the scheme, I had a conversation with my mentor about my career path. I had a pre-conceived idea about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to do it and how I wanted to get there but it was very linear and I was setting myself up to fail. I was given a great piece of advice: never forget your end goal but enjoy the journey. I was so focused on where I wanted to end up that I wasn’t taking the time to appreciate where I was at the time and get the best out of myself. Ensuring I ‘enjoy the journey’ has allowed me to maximise what I get out of each placement, thrive and enjoy myself, which is the most important thing. It’s kept my eyes open to all roles, possibilities and challenges, as they all provide something different.

Lastly, what do you value most from an organisation you work for? What’s important to you? (this is about what’s important to you from a values, benefits and organisational perspective – what do you need or want from an employer to ensure they get the best from you and you feel like you’re valued and supported?)

I value support more than anything from an organisation. The environment within which I can learn and develop and provide my best work is key and this will be through a combination of the line manager and the culture of the organisation. It’s always important to ensure the values of the organisation are aligned to your own but I feel the values of most NHS organisations are similar – as we all work towards the same objectives. I also value the opportunity to be challenged and achieve, which is something I am always striving for. Feeling stretched in a role is really important and it is why so many graduates of the scheme have been successful.

Receive our ‘Outlook’ newsletter

Latest issue: September 2018  

To receive updates about the team and what programmes are on offer, just click below to sign up!


Contact us

NHS South West Leadership Academy
South West House
Blackbrook Park Avenue
Somerset TA1 2PX

Telephone: 01823 361126 / 361128


Proud to be part of Health Education England