Lily Tinsley

Finance Scheme

Graduate Finance Trainee, Essex

I witnessed somebody die on an open ward on orientation. I asked the nurses I was with how they coped with seeing this all the time, and they said it is hard. One of them said ‘the day I stop taking this home and being affected, feeling deeply for the patients, their friends and family, is the day I stop being a nurse’. That conversation is one that I have replayed over in my head a lot, and I will never forget that lady.

I have had so many wow moments during my time that’s it’s hard to list them all. The NHS is so different to other organisations, because patients really do always come first, and I have been lucky enough to witness how it all works and the amazing people who work there. It takes something really special to be on the frontline in their situation and that of many other members of staff, from domestic service, to porters, to nurses and registrars. I have so much respect for what they do.

I grew up surrounded by the NHS, it’s been a big part of my life just like it has to millions of others.

My parents, godparents, close family and friends are all NHS clinicians, so I have always had a very close relationship with the NHS. It is such a huge organisation with vast opportunities; you really can go anywhere and do anything. The finance qualification is a great opportunity and when you finish, there are so many doors that are open to you. It is particularly good if you are just starting out in your graduate career or have not worked in Finance previously.

I really had no idea what to expect, but I knew it was going to change my life.

I always thought the NHS seemed like a bit of a weird social experiment that should never have worked on paper. I still think it’s quite spectacular that the NHS exists as it does to this day, I don’t know if anyone in this day and age would dare predict we could ever create something so fundamental in today’s society.

My brother, who has also been on the scheme, told me I would get exposure to some wonderful people and he couldn’t have been more right. I have been lucky enough to meet some very senior people in the NHS and go to events with the likes of Simon Stevens and Rob Webster. There are times when I find myself thinking ‘I can’t believe I’m actually talking to this person!’.

It’s like being part of a giant family here.  I’ve seen people who are new to the organisation chatting as if they’ve known each other for years.

Working here is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. People are so friendly and welcoming. Nearly everyone has time for me, they all try and make time for me even if I haven’t asked them to. The support network is incredible and there is always someone who knows how you’re feeling and who can identify with you to help you get your head around things, or perhaps even make a decision you might have been struggling with.

I could never have dreamt I would learn as much as I have or get to meet the people I have.

There’s no other word for it. It’s crazy! There’s just so much variety involved, every day seems to be different. My day-to-day role varies so much that there’s always a new challenge to tackle. It can seem a bit daunting at first, but there will always be someone who has felt just like you have and sometimes that’s all you need to know: that it’s OK and to keep ploughing on, because it will be worth it in the long run.

Ultimately, as a trainee there is a lot more leeway for you to ask questions, to try new things or introduce new methods of doings things.

One of the key things I’ve noticed is that the ‘trainee’ bit on your badge gives you scope to get away with an awful lot more questions than others! Asking questions and finding your feet is what it’s all about. It’s how you learn. And everyone knows that you’re new to it all, so they give you all the leeway and encouragement you need.

I think I underestimated my abilities at first. Fortunately the scheme has coaxed what is needed out of me at the right time so far.

To be honest I am a bit of a perfectionist! But that’s no bad thing here. It has enabled me to spot or rectify errors quickly and that has definitely been an advantage. When I first started I was very concerned that I wouldn’t be right for Finance and that I had made the wrong choice, but somehow I have changed and molded into the role as needed which has really helped with both CIPFA and day-to-day work.

This is definitely one of those roles where your heart really needs to be in it! 

I was really torn between the Finance and General Management schemes, but I know now that I definitely made the right choice. If you really value facts, data and theory like I do then this is where you need to be. There’s plenty of it! You have got to have a passion for it though, else you run the risk of getting lost in spreadsheets.