Sangeeta Patel shares her journey in senior leadership and those who have inspired her. 
After a long career in HR, OD and international development, I was ready for a change. I applied for the Project Manager job, knowing that I did not meet the criteria quite in the way described in job description. Ordinarily, the requirement for PRINCE 2 or equivalent qualification or experience would have stopped me from applying, but this time I gave it go anyway. 
And I am so glad I did. The then CEO of Reaching People who saw beyond my lack of qualifications and ‘normal’ project management experience and picked up on the transferrable skills, experience and approach that might make me a good fit for the job and worth taking a risk on. 
The transferable skills were particularly around managing complex HR/OD projects, from a distance, often across several countries and differences in culture, laws, time, language etc. overcoming all the issues and conflicts this raised, alongside the ability to develop effective relationships usually remotely and work with and support a diverse range of people, in order to deliver against goals and targets, to standard, within budget and on time. 
I believe a strength of a manager is to keep an eye on the end result, be agile, creative and resilient, and open to different and innovative ways of getting there. Knowing and using policies, systems and processes (such as recruitment and PRINCE 2) is critical but these are only tools, that can be learnt. It’s the skills to use them and the approach to working with others, that gets the job done. 
“She set the bar high, knowing that with support that we would reach it.” 
The CEO of RP, setting the tone and culture of the organisation, through her leadership, supported by the right structures, policies, systems and procedures. She focused on people. bringing in and nurturing a team with a range of complimentary attributes, from a range of backgrounds but the same commitment, motivation and team spirit. Always challenging, she set the bar high, knowing that with support that we would reach it. 
As such, I was given autonomy and authority to lead and manage Moneywise Plus, confident that my manager would back, support and guide me. I have tried to emulate this in the way I have managed Moneywise Plus, my direct team, the team of advisers and partners. Not as an end in itself but as an effective way of delivering on the project and Reaching People objectives. For example, the central project management team’s approach is not to control but to facilitate, encourage and support advisers and partners to achieve their targets and do their best for our clients e.g. through positive team working; joint problem solving, training and guidance. This and open, honest and transparent communications e.g. using evidence based performance management and a series of meetings where issues can be safely raised and dealt with, has helped to create an effective team work, collaborative and cooperative approach. 
Moneywise Plus faced and presented many challenges from poor delivery to lockdown but as it comes to an end has overachieved on all its KPIs, through a strength-based approach, keeping people central be it partners, staff or clients and staying focused on the outcomes for everyone. 
Tagged as: Senior Leadership
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