NOE CPC Timeline of Talent: Keith Rowley
Over the last 15 years NOE CPC has invested in and developed an expert team. From the early veterans to the latest additions who continue to join us as we grow, we are celebrating our people throughout the #PeopleMatter month. First off is Keith Rowley who this month is marking a decade as Managing Director.
I spent 14 years in the private sector at Computacenter (CC). I worked in various commercial roles from sales, commercial design and contracting to operations. Towards the end of my CC career I ran the managed service business for the North of England. One of my last projects there was deploying Enterprise Resource Planning solutions for the services business across warehousing, logistics, and finance and resource planning.
I was drawn to the NHS after my youngest son had been seriously unwell and I had seen first-hand how well the NHS can work. I decided I wanted to be part of the NHS and give something back for all they had done, and still do, for him.
Why NOE CPC
I initially joined in October 2011 as Commercial Director. I saw the role at NOE CPC and felt it aligned commercially to what I’d done before. The NHS procurement landscape was changing quickly with the demise of the SHA’s and PCT’s and the move to commissioning, and there was a synergy with my experience in private sector commercial and contracting. A year later I was offered the role of Managing Director and over the last decade we have crafted and developed the NOE CPC model to adapt with the changing landscape.
The NHS is incredibly complicated, from understanding how every aspect of the NHS machine connects and interdepends to saving lives and improving patient outcomes. Also trying to decipher the challenging landscape where so many people need to work together and collaborate while meeting differing needs. I hope I have brought some commerciality to what we do, focusing on delivering a service, seeking to understand what the customer needs, how we add value, and what our strengths are to deliver that. With a team of talented, committed and knowledgeable people with shared goals I believe we have established a strong working model that works within the NHS.
NOE CPC People
People are key to the service we provide. They don’t stay because we pay better, and we can’t recruit on salary differential. We have sought to build a culture that is equal and fair and where people are empowered, valued and see the vocational value of what we do. We work hard to ingrain our values; Integrity, Simplicity, Caring. Individuals are supported in their learning and development to meet their needs and the needs of the organisation. As we have grown we’ve also had opportunities for people to grow with NOE CPC. This requires investment and commitment from people and hopefully that can be rewarded.
We also work hard to break down layers in our organisation by being open and approachable, not hierarchical. Everyone has a voice and influence over the organisation, and we want to encourage them to effect the changes needed to improve the service we offer. We have a wide range of skills, diversity and expertise from all areas of the team and the insight each individual brings is invaluable. NOE CPC is part of the NHS so we are not motivated by shareholder profits, we are collectively driven to seek to do the right thing which is ultimately supporting the best healthcare to patients. However, we don’t always get it right, we can make mistakes, so it is important we create a learning environment, where mistakes are not seen as a failure but as opportunities to improve.
Everyone plays a role. Jim Collins talks about small steps leading to big impact in his book Good to Great. We can all effect change, but you do need resilience in the NHS. Taking small steps to get things moving, can start the ‘fly wheel effect’, once you get it moving all the other cogs start moving and it gains momentum and with more input it can become something great.
To succeed, I believe we need to work more as one across the NHS, particularly in procurement and commercial – locally, regionally, nationally and with our suppliers. Frustration and service failure leads to barriers being built and these can be reinforced by pressures in our system. People can become jaded about trying to deliver change, but we must keep taking those small steps to build the momentum.
The inflationary market, COVID recovery, spending constraints and challenges in the labour market create an unprecedented level of challenge. Right now, what we do has never been so high profile and that puts us in a good position to develop. The ICSs are going to play an important part in the landscape, but there is much change to take place, including linking local, regional and national activity and developing a clear view of the future. We face changes to the procurement regulations that will require much learning, training and adjustment over the coming year or two. Government policy is seeking greater transparency and visibility of procurement but that can also have unintended consequences that constrain our ability to deliver with more bureaucracy. When I joined we talked about a difficult set of challenges, healthcare needed to be more efficient to manage a growing demand. A decade on, we still have that challenge but it is bigger with the backlog resulting from COVID and unprecedented market conditions. It’s an enormous task, there will be huge pinch points but we must persevere to work as one with NHS partners, suppliers, and our colleagues at local, regional and national levels and that will take brave, honourable and talented people.
What encapsulates your feelings about a decade at the NOE CPC helm?
Moving to the NHS from the private sector was harder than I thought it would be. It has been challenging but I’d do it again and again. I have learnt loads and realised it is easy to critique the NHS from the outside but it does amazing things every day. I love what we do and I’m immensely proud of what we deliver. I think the future is exciting and challenging and I’m passionate about seeing that through the next decade and beyond.
In my role as Chief Officer of HCSA I feel hugely privileged to represent so many across the service. I am proud of the team and the community. People who work in NHS procurement are fundamental to the running of the NHS. The last couple of years has highlighted how important it is; procurement, supply chain, logistics, we help make the vital front line care services work.