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Vasanthi Elder, librarian at our Northumbria Hospital, says the Stepping Up programme was a real ‘game changer’ in her career.

Wednesday, 14 October, 2020
Vasanthi Elder, librarian at our Northumbria Hospital, says the Stepping Up programme was a real ‘game changer’ in her career.

Vasanthi Elder, librarian at our Northumbria Hospital, says the Stepping Up programme was a real ‘game changer’ in her career.

I first arrived in the UK from Singapore as a university student in Newcastle upon Tyne. After graduating, I remained in the North East and during my career I’ve worked in a university and public libraries before joining the Trust.

2020 is a significant year for me as it marks 20 years of working for the Trust. I feel truly privileged working for the NHS as its values underpin my core beliefs. I also feel fortunate in making Northumberland my home. Coming from the very busy city of Singapore, I find myself being quite taken with the contrasting peace and quiet of rural Northumberland where I now live. The people here are friendly and welcoming so I feel very much at home.

The Stepping Up programme came along at just the right point in my life. Having completed a Master’s degree a while back, I was looking for additional challenges and a way to further develop my career prospects and leadership skills. I came across information about the Stepping Up programme in the Trust’s weekly staff update. I decided to take the plunge and was thrilled when I heard that my application to the national programme was accepted.

The programme both inspired and challenged me in equal measures. There was a broad range of learning which included reflecting on feedback from my colleagues. We were also encouraged to think about and work on overcoming self-limiting thoughts and behaviours. Many of these are cultural and family based. For example, I had to try and overcome my natural, culturally based, tendency to be reticent and work on building my confidence to speak up and be clear and explicit about my goals at work and to express my views. This was an emotional moment for many and proved challenging for us to face as these thoughts and behaviours are so ingrained in our identities.

The programme has given me the skills to be objective about my strengths and shortcomings and to be clear about my career goals. It has also given me the confidence to take ownership of my career and be more proactive and effective at work.

It gave me the wonderful opportunity to meet and work with bright, enthusiastic colleagues in the wider NHS in an atmosphere of support, encouragement and honesty.

I eagerly wait to see where my new-found confidence and skills will take me. I would highly recommend the Stepping Up programme to other BAME staff working in healthcare. Don’t hesitate and apply. It’s a transformational experience; a real game changer!

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