00:01 My name is Ross B I’m the director of leadership for the department of health which covers the NHS across England. It involves making sure we have a pipeline of future leaders for the top jobs in the NHS and that they’ve had the right development along the way in their career. It also involves helping support the current leaders in being effective in delivering the future that the NHS is going to need.
00:27 The NHS to me is an extraordinary institution it’s got this sort of unique status as half national treasure, half political football. For me personally it was not that dissimilar to where I came from, it’s a highly technical and technology driven thing, with immense challenges I think in how you adapt to changing technology and the cost pressures and the service challenges that come with that.
00:54 As people probably judge from my accent I grew up in the suburbs of Australia. My family were very passionate about education and advancement but the idea that I might go to university alone would be a, was a bit of an ambition.
01:08 My mother was a full time mother all her life, she left school at 15. My father I think left school at 17 he ended up I think being a bank manager in a local bank in Australia. So and he was a professional footballer along the way.
01:21 Like most kids at school I spent most of my time trying not to worry about what I would have to do next and then when I was about 17 or 18 I encountered an English literature teacher, she I guess thought at the time I was promising enough that she turned up at 8 in the morning to teach myself and one other kid English literature but honestly I could only say I was incredibly lucky in the support I got from family, school, teachers, and later on in my career from some of the people who helped me out too.
01:52 My mother wanted me to be a doctor which would certainly work here, I think but I also had this very strong desire to pursue literature and those weren’t necessarily going to work together. So I ended up becoming a psychologist, it took my mother about, took about the second year to realise that I wasn’t actually gonna become a doctor by being a psychologist but I got away with it for that long.
02:08 So I left university and I got a reasonable good degree I guess, and I took a year off then to play in rock band which I duly did without, it must be noted any huge success.
02:21 I was at home on morning and strangely enough I got rung up by somebody from Shell who invited me in for an interview without my having applied that wouldn’t happen nowadays. So I decided that my whatever my other lifetime ambitions were they were quickly, quickly swamped by the offer. I joined Shell I spent most of my career internationally, although I consider myself probably British about 70% and Australian 30% until the cricket’s on.
02:48 Where you do most of your learning is on the jobs that you do and then the real learning that you do is by getting in there, getting your hands dirty and in my case it was things like you know being on the retail leadership team for Shell Australia when I was 31 I think. You know that’s what really teaches you, because you soon learn what you don’t know there.
03:07 Moving from human resources job to selling natural gas which is a highly technically oriented thing which I knew nothing about in a new country was unbelievably daunting. After 6 months of being bruised by QCs who’d been doing this for 20 years and were negotiating on the other side of the table, and given sometimes as good as I got, but really struggling I handed my resignation in and I remember vividly the boss I had at the time, lovely, lovely man, you know taking my letter of resignation and sort of ripping it up into four and handing it back to me and saying, you know you need to give this 6 more months firstly and secondly you need to take the learning from this which is actually vulnerabilities are kind of an important thing to know how to manage.
03:50 So up ‘til then I’d been, I’d been probably a bit of a golden boy, and what I didn’t have any experience in was coping with failure.