Saturday, 3 October 2015

A flying visit to Raffles, but there is no gin-sling to be had!

This weeks blog is being posted from a smog covered Singapore. I am slightly tired from the travelling, so apologies for any typos. However, having said that, I did cram a great deal into last week, and although busy, it was a very exciting week. I met some really interesting people, had some fabulous conversations which made me feel alive and buzzing. For example, on Monday I was pleased to be part of our School celebrations of Saudi Arabia National Day. We have a growing number of PhD students from Saudi, and they are a real privilege to work with. The day’s events celebrated the birth and growth of the Saudi nation, and its many achievements in education and health care over what has been a relatively short period of time.

The Mary Seacole building was decorated in the Suadi colours, green and white (growth) and there were tastes of Saudi life illustrated through food, pictures, music, the opportunity to dress in traditional Arabic dress, and if you wanted, even henna tattoos. It was a wonderful day and I was so proud of the hard work of our students in organising and facilitating the day – it was brilliant! Monday evening I had dinner with one of my Deans of School colleague’s, Hisham. He is the Dean of the School of the Built Environment (SoBE).

It was an opportunity to talk about mutual ambitions and of course the odd whinge and moan, but essentially it provided us with some time to reflect on where we had got to in facilitating the achievement of  the ambitions of our colleagues working in both Schools. I learnt lot about what colleague’s in SoBE were up to with their research, and there was plenty for colleagues in our School to join in with. Friday I was on a plane on my way to Singapore and sitting next to me was a young man by the name of Louis who had just joined SoBE as a student. He was on his way to spend a long weekend in Dubai. Louis wants to be a Quantity Survey and after my conversation with Hisham, it was clear he had chosen the best place to be in realising his ambition.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday was given over to further exploring the opportunities of 'Devo Manc' and considering where the thinking had got to over the governance and decision making processes for the transformational board. Tuesday also included an opportunity to reflect on the opportunities afforded by the very welcome decision that the Salford Royal Foundation Trust and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Fount Trust had gained approval for a Vanguard 2 bid for Acute Services. Being part of the WWL bid was a wonderful experience, and it felt like I was really able to contribute to the re-shaping of health and social care services for the North West of Greater Manchester - again a great privilege to be part of this work.

My last meeting on Thursday was with colleagues working in the Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group and the Manchester City Council. I was able to discuss some ideas around entering into a partnership to work with them in taken forward one of Simon Stevens (Chief Executive of the NHS) top three ambitions around making the health and social care workforce a healthier one, and the organisations they worked in healthy places to work. Greater Manchester has some of the worst socio-economic indices in Britain, and health and social care workforces are really well placed to make a difference to the lives of the population in general and those they employ in particular.

Of course I said yes in terms of becoming a partner and have already alerted colleagues in both the health schools at the University to start the conversations while I am away. For me it was a good example of what might be achieved through our new strategic Industry Collaboration Zone (ICZ) initiative. The ICZ initiative looks at creating synergies where there weren't any before, allowing new teaching programmes to be developed and new research areas to be funded and taken forward. It allows our students access to industry organisations, in this case the 'health industry' and reinforces the strategic and powerful partnerships the university can have with its stakeholders. For the first time ever, I made a podcast. It's focus was  what I think the ICZ might deliver to the School, and this was published online last Friday. So far I have received mainly positive reviews about its usefulness. 

Singapore is 7 hours ahead of the UK, so yesterday, after travelling from Manchester I had a bonus day to spend in Singapore. There was only one thing to do, and this meant going to one of my favourite places, Raffles Hotel. I fancied a drink in the Long Bar, famous for its still colonial d├ęcor and ambiance and of course the monkey nut shells which form a carpet across the floor. I was unable to do so however, as there was queue of people all waiting to go in. It was clearly a popular place to go to. As I have been there a few times before and as it was baking hot, I chose to go somewhere else for a glass of lemonade. Later today I start the final leg of the journey to Australia. I will tell you all the news of the conference in next week’s blog!