• Tara Humphrey

Why I’m a Network Leader

Updated: Nov 7, 2018

As a Project Manager supporting Community Education Provider Networks, I am blessed to come to work every day, even though I face the challenge of trying to transform the primary care workforce, through new approaches to multi-professional education and training.

The challenges which will not be a surprise to you are:

• Balancing limited capacity and resources

• Securing funds to support the day to day management of the network and sustainability in the long term

• Consistently communicating with multiple stakeholders who all have a different take on things

• Navigating through personal and professional politics

• Managing uncertainty

• Implementing governance without bureaucracy

• Making the time to develop and reinforce vision, mission and values

• Aligning to national and local strategies which sometimes feels unattainable

• Building trust, especially if it has been broken in the past

But… the aim of this post is not to be negative although I regularly feel frustrated, but on the contrary, these challenges drive and energise me.

I get great satisfaction from the variety of my role which combines strategy development, operational implementation, building and often trying to save relationships, facilitating conversations, understanding the legal implications of running a Community Interest Company, attending workshops and conferences, marketing, financial management and making the vision of our clinical leads a reality.

The best part of my role is the people who I work with, and, I love my time spent in general practice when I get the privilege to see what goes on behind the scenes. I have learnt the closer we (project managers) are to the front line and working side by side with the people we are trying to help, change happens a lot faster. Project management cannot be done in front of a computer!

I have learnt that being a network leader is not for the faint-hearted, regularly I receive reinforcements of the challenges we are facing. I have also learnt that being a leader is first and foremost about people and relationships and building trust with people you directly work with. The solutions may be simple but, they are often not easy to embed especially without strong relationships.

I additionally feel that building friendships with people from outside of your immediate community is just as important, as they offer a different perspective to help you see things differently.

During challenging periods ( of which there are many) here is where I draw on my resilience, which I think is a key skill that every network leader should have and work on. I also am drawn back to the reason that I chose this career, which for me is to simply try and make a difference.

I feel very proud to be part of the community of Community Education Providers Networks (CEPNs) across South London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

I would love to hear your stories of why you are a network leader, the challenges you face and the key skills which you feel every network leader should have.