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Life on Assignment with Deepa Nair-Pillai

NHS IMAS Pool Member Deepa Nair-Pillai shares her experience of being on assignment as the Deputy Director of Programmes within the Equality and Inclusion team, NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Photo of Deepa Nair

I am on assignment as the Deputy Director of Programmes within the Equality and Inclusion (E&I) team. I joined this team in December 2020 on a four month secondment from the East of England regional team with the specific remit of developing a governance and oversight framework for the E&I team, and providing support to the E&I Directors.

The role has been a learning experience for me in more ways than one, as it was my first experience in the National team, so getting that 20,000ft level view is always helpful. It was also my first role in the E&I space which has been educational to say the least. I am involved in a wide range of projects at the moment ranging from managing HR processes, setting up risk escalation frameworks, business planning, stakeholder management on National advisory groups.

I joined the NHS from the private sector about 11 years ago, in what was then known as Monitor and have been with this organisation through its multiple iterations. I have always felt a sense of pride and gratefulness for the quality of health care we receive in the NHS, particularly during the birth ofmy second child seven years ago, when they quite literally saved my life. But over the past 18 months, particularly given my stint in the
National Incident Coordination Centre (ICC(N), the level of commitment to make a difference despite of the situation and not because of the situation we found ourselves in has really stayed with me.

I was returning home from the ICC(N) after an evening shift in June last year, and stopped at the local Tesco. I didn’t realise I hadn’t taken my badge off until about five people in the queue let me go to the front, and the guard outside the shop said ‘We can wait a little longer, you work for the NHS, you take priority.’

We asked Deepa what advice she would give to other NHS IMAS pool members or anybody considering taking on a new assignment?

The power of integration, coproduction and collaboration. If these three things are in any project it is bound to succeed!