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Strathclyde Business School

Skills, technology and life: helping set up a Nightingale Hospital

By Kiran Govekar - Posted on 6 May 2020

When management consultant and MBA graduate Kiran Govekar got the chance to help set up a Nightingale hospital, she jumped at the chance. Here, she explains her involvement. 

When you come out of a business school such as Strathclyde Business School, you expect to land a great job and have an accelerated career path - I got both of those things. I am also lucky to have a great family (husband who did MBA along with me at Strathclyde) and a nice home in one of the best cities in the world – London.  

When COVID-19 hit the city and the country, it impacted me much in the same way as everyone else. Suddenly everything I knew about my work life was changed. Working from home with a two-year-old and a management consultant for a husband was a challenge. Having video calls with clients was new and I must say fun. But something inside me was bothering me: ‘How can I contribute? How can I be helpful?’ These questions bothered me a lot during the first two weeks of the lockdown combined with the uncertainty and how nobody knew the course this was taking.  

I am a planner by nature and uncertainty is not something I like to deal with. I like to do something about it. But I wasn’t a doctor, I wasn’t a nurse, neither was I a key worker. I am an Assistant Director in EY’s Transactions Advisory Services. I was just a management consultant who as a part of her job helped clients with Mergers & Acquisition decisions and their executions. It was deeply frustrating to accept that my skills - while being valuable - were largely rendered useless in the fight against COVID-19. 

So, when one of the EY partners approached me for the Manchester Nightingale hospital assignment, I said yes without asking a single question. This was not about skills, experience, accolades; this was just about a chance to do something. A chance to contribute. A chance to be part of something bigger. 

I was ready to roll-up my sleeves and do whatever it took but thankfully the skills I had were useful. When the Manchester Nightingale hospital was announced, EY was engaged to support the programme management of the hospital set-up. EY programme leadership pulled together a team from various service lines across the firm primarily looking not just for the technical/functional skills but the ability to deliver to what would otherwise be seen as unrealistic timelines. I was asked to lead the information technology workstream due to my experience delivering technology transformation programmes in the healthcare sector. 

Time was the biggest challenge and there were too many variables which under normal circumstances would mean a sequential execution of tasks of complex nature. This was extenuated by the dependencies on other areas of set-up - from getting deliveries of equipment to having tables set-up where computers needed to be installed.  

In any set-up work technology is usually the last block to be put in place as it depends on all the infrastructure to be put in place and the processes defined first. Nightingale set-up required all of this to be executed in parallel. This meant running the engagement in the most agile fashion trying to develop and adapt as the infrastructure was being built and processes defined. The only way to manage this was to run a very tight critical path-driven plan with continuous stakeholder management and resolving risks and issues as they are encountered. In a typical engagement you would expect senior stakeholder engagement on a weekly or bi weekly basis. In this instance there was need for continuous reporting, monitoring, escalation and decision making flow across the programme at all levels continually through the day to keep things moving. 

Some projects teach you skills, some others teach you about technology and there are those which teach you about life. This project was one of those. To speak to and work alongside some of the individuals making a real difference on the frontline was an experience I will always cherish. While I was working on this project remotely, there were several individuals working 14-16 hours a day to turnaround a whole hospital within two weeks. Each one of these individuals was a hero to me and made me feel even more motivated. 

I arrived in the United Kingdom 11 years ago to do my MBA at Strathclyde and over the past few years have become part of the fabric of this great country. The two weeks working on the Manchester Nightingale helped me really appreciate the fighting spirit of this wonderful nation and the human race across the world and how we all in our own way are contributing to help overcome this strange situation that we find ourselves in. I am thankful to Strathclyde Business School helping me start my journey, enabling me with the right mindset (backed by the tools and frameworks practised during the MBA programme) and hence eventually affording me the opportunity to play a tiny role in building the Manchester Nightingale Hospital. 

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