167 days into his new role as CEO, Gareth Pierce reflects on what he's learnt so far.
I can’t quite believe it - on 1st February, I have been in post as CEO for 167 days. I’ve tried to sum up my first few months in a word or a sentence, but I can’t. Not only is there far too much to reflect on but also those few months have gone in a flash!
So far, it’s certainly been a steep learning curve … which I knew it would be!
As well as parts of the job that perhaps I didn’t fully appreciate when I said ‘I do’, like becoming the controlled drugs accountable officer and navigating our first CQC inspection in 9 years (what a result, by the way. I’m SO PROUD of the entire team here in retaining our ‘Outstanding’ rating!), perhaps the biggest thing for me has been to appreciate the complexity of the system in which we operate as a charity.
Supporting children with complex needs, and their families requires a system-wide approach and it’s taken me the whole of the last 6 months to map out and truly understand the network of providers, other charities and third sector organisations and of course a myriad of health and social care settings involved, and where we fit within it. And to identify the opportunities to work more closely with others to help us to deliver our promise - that no family in West Yorkshire will have to face the loss of their child alone. Quite simply, we can’t do it by ourselves and collaboration is key.
Then there’s funding. It’s tough at the moment, and there are no two ways about it - having to think about how we deliver our promise in the most uncertain financial climate that we have ever seen is daunting. But it’s ok to feel like that, right? It’s that feeling that gives me the determination to steer us towards that future sustainability that we need.
Over the last 6 months, I’ve had to work hard to maintain my wellbeing and work-life balance. It’s easy when you step into a new role to adopt the ‘throw the kitchen sink at it’ approach - working later, dipping in and out of things at the weekend, not focussing on family time. But that approach isn’t sustainable, so I’ve focussed in January on making some decisions that will help me to maintain a better balance. From introducing more structured and secure family time to making more time just for me - which usually involves a walk with Milo my dog or getting out on my bike.
Importantly, setting goals has become really important for me both in and out of work. My personal goal for February is to take on our Extra Mile Trial – which I’ve adapted slightly to up the challenge. For each day in February, I won’t just be doing an extra mile I’ll be walking, running or cycling the same number of miles as the number of days (yes, that means on 29th February I will need to walk, run or cycle 29 miles!). It’s a challenge but as I’ve realised over the last 6 months, I do love a challenge!