• Role: Analyst
  • Location: London
  • University: Sussex
  • Degree: English Literature
  • Organisation: Capita

Laura Cruickshank

After graduating from Sussex University with a degree in English Literature, I knew I wanted a career that wasn’t the average 9-5 job. I wanted to be involved in an industry where you could work in a variety of organisations, meet different people and make a difference. I applied to Capita during my final year at university and, after a number of interviews and an assessment centre, started my role in September 2012.

Capita seemed like the right choice for me because of the open and supportive environment. You really feel part of a team and your managers are keen to ensure you still have a work/life balance.

There’s a huge range of clients and projects that consultants are involved in at Capita, from multi-million pound transformation solutions to smaller research pieces. Since joining the company I’ve been focused in the Health Advisory arm of the business and have worked on a number of projects for different clients across the health market. Here is a summary of some of the work I’ve been doing:

Education programme

Our project was to deliver an e-learning platform that could be accessed by a number of different health organisations across the South West region of the UK. I was involved in a number of areas in the whole project, including helping write and project manage a set of units, liaising with healthcare leaders in the region to understand their requirements from the platform, and developing a plan for the structured uptake of use in the healthcare organisations.

I really enjoyed this project, as it allowed me to interact with a lot of senior colleagues. Writing and reviewing different units also meant that I learnt a lot about the NHS and healthcare regulations and operations in a short space of time.

Emergency care re-organisation implementation

I was part of a transformation programme at a UK hospital which aimed to re-organise their emergency care pathways. The hospital had a high mortality rate and had identified a number of areas for performance improvement that would help to combat this, such as reducing length of stay, emergency flow and conversion rates. The programme was divided into different workstreams and specialities, including Emergency, Care of the Elderly, and Diagnostics. The workstreams had their own project managers to identify tasks and track progress, so our role was to keep up the momentum and act as a ‘critical friend’. It was my first project in a hospital, but luckily my colleagues were ex-clinical staff so could answer all my questions and make me feel at ease.

Research projects

I’ve been involved in a variety of research projects for different health clients. One project involved conducting a literature review of improvement methodologies and identifying where the methodologies could be transferred to healthcare commissioning. I then examined Department of Health (DoH) guidance and papers, trying to identify any similarities between DoH suggestions for best practice and the emphasis in any of the improvement methodologies. We completed the research and put together a report detailing our findings and recommendations for use as a methodology in commissioning.

It was quite a tough project, due to the sheer amount of material you needed to review within the deadlines, but it meant that I developed a broad knowledge of the different methodologies, which I’ve found to be really useful in understanding business management.

Another client was a software supplier who wanted some research undertaken around the mental health IT market and the different electronic patient record (EPR) systems that were in use by mental health organisations. This project involved desktop research, as well as interviews with a number of healthcare trusts to understand their requirements when procuring an EPR system. It provided an opportunity to learn about a side of the healthcare industry that I’d never really considered, but is central to how the organisations function.

Internal projects

I’ve also been involved in a number of internal projects with other analysts and consultants at Capita. Some of the most enjoyable of these included giving a presentation to undergraduates at a London university about ‘Learning to Lead’. You get lots of opportunities to develop yourself as a consultant and do something you might find a bit nerve-wracking– it was surreal to think that only a few months beforehand I was in their place!

At the end of 2012 I got the chance to project manage Capita’s successful bid for a central government procurement framework. It involved co-ordinating and managing lot-specific answers, liaising with Market Directors and senior colleagues to lead progress updates, and ensuring we uploaded the bid in time. It was great to work on a high-pressure and high-profile project, although at times it was a bit daunting, especially when I was sitting giving updates to Capita Consulting’s MD!

Young MCA

I’m the Capita representative for the Young MCA. It’s a great chance to meet consultants from other firms and learn about the consulting experience other graduates are having. There is usually an event each month at a different consultancy in London with guest speakers and networking, so you can talk informally to senior consultants and get some advice about career progression. The aim of the Young MCA is to promote consulting as a career and prove to graduates that it’s an exciting and dynamic industry to work in.

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