Sarah James

Sarah James
Sarah James

After A-Levels, I decided to work instead of going to University (I did have offers), and joined the A-Level Management Training Scheme at Selfridges in 1980. I was one of only two A-Level trainees and so undertook the training with the Graduate Trainees. Over the course of the year I realised that I would gain in maturity and knowledge by going to University. One of the graduate scheme trainees had been to Aston Business School and recommended it highly.  I had the grades already, so got an instant offer, starting the course in 1981.
I returned to Selfridges for my Placement year (tip - never fall out with people when you leave an organisation!); this time spending most of it within Personnel (as it was then known) and the Training Department, as I was specialising in Personnel and Organisation Development.
I gained a 2.1 and moved to Leicester in 1985 where I worked for the City Council in Personnel on the Equality Agenda, undertaking workforce/succession planning.  After 12 months I moved into the Training and Development section as a Training Officer.  At this point I also attended Leicester Polytechnic 1 evening a week (now De Montfort University) to take a Post Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management.  This was pretty frustrating as I had already covered large parts of the course during my degree.  I acted up into the post of Senior Training Officer for 6 months, and was then approached by a small firm of management consultants to join them. They were London based and I jumped at the chance to return home!
I worked for PBA Ltd from 1989 - 1992 firstly as Consultant, and then as Assistant Director.  I adored this job, gaining insights into organisational culture and trying to affect change was hugely challenging and simulating, however the downfall in the economy in the early 1990s meant that it became increasingly difficult to secure long term contracts and our 'cash cow' contracts came to an end.  The realities of how cashflow affects small businesses hit home, and I sadly decided to look for something more secure. 
I was approached to apply for a post in The Whittington Hospital on the organisational development side of a large IT project, and was successful in my application. Returning to the public sector was odd at first, but the NHS has a way of gripping you with it's complexity, politics and the need for constant change.  I worked here from 1992-1994, and had my maternity leave during this time. 
I was then approached to apply for a secondment to St George's as the Assistant Director of Human Resource (Training), and took this job for 12 months and was then made permanent.  In 1999 I moved to King's to a bigger role which involved education contracting and post registration education for all non medical staff.  I've been here ever since.  During this time I've undertaken an MSc in Strategic Human Resource Management from Manchester Business School, which included electives to Erasmus and Harvard Universities.  I am now also qualified to undertake MBTI assessments at levels 1 and 2, and the Aston Team Performance Inventory.  The work of Borrill and West from Aston has been hugely influencial in the way that HR is perceived as having a direct impact on patient care/mortality rates.
I did recently successfully apply to take a secondment to NHS London for 18 months to work on Leadership Development for aspiring Board Directors/GPs Commissioners, but wasn't allowed to take it - I seem to be irreplaceable now! 
As I approach my 50th year, I do feel that I have another job left in me!

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research