Gavin, Customer Relationship Manager, NHS National Services Scotland

My name is Gavin and I'm a customer relationship manager working for NHS National Services Scotland. I make sure we maintain good relationships with our customers and help to find solutions to their problems.

What did you first do when you left school?

Growing up, I wanted to be either a vet or a doctor. I loved the idea of making animals and people feel better. At age 15, I was expelled from school, mostly for non-attendance believe it or not! I had no qualifications, so it wasn't a great start to my career!

After spending several months claiming benefits, I started working in a call centre and realised that I was pretty good at selling things. From there I moved on to various sales roles but I never settled in one job for long.

I then decided to go to drama school with my eyes set on Hollywood. I never did make it to Hollywood. The local Christmas panto was as far as my acting career went.

I am passionate about health and fitness, so I decided to attend college to study. For the first time, I felt like I was really enjoying what I was doing. However, I quickly became very ill and was diagnosed with late-stage kidney failure in my early twenties.

After spending a few years on dialysis and being very ill, my sister kindly gave me one of her kidneys. I suddenly had a new lease of life. During that period of illness, I had some amazing support from social workers, nurses, consultants, pharmacists, and charities. It inspired me to begin a new career.

I realised that I still wanted to make people feel better, but that didn't have to be as a doctor. On my last dialysis session in hospital, I looked around at all the patients and friends I was leaving behind. Many of them would die without the chance that I was getting. It inspired me to spend the rest of my life trying to make a difference.

I went to university as a mature student and left with a degree in Education and Social Services. I spent several, enjoyable years working in the third sector and local government before finally joining the NHS earlier this year as a customer relationship manager.

What attracted you to working in the NHS?

It fills me with a sense of pride that I work for such a recognised and respected organisation. An organisation that literally saved my life on several occasions. I realised that being part of the NHS would provide me with an excellent opportunity to influence positive change and ultimately, make a difference in people's lives. The staff discounts are pretty good too!

How did you get started?

A role like mine requires certain skills and knowledge which aren't taught in one course. I have gathered and developed my skills through various roles over the years, even using some of the skills and knowledge picked up in my call centre days. All experience is relevant.

I spotted the role online and it immediately appealed to me. It was strange having an interview by video call and starting a new job without meeting anyone in person. But, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here already and feel like I will be able to make a real difference.

Describe your day-to-day role.

NHS National Services Scotland provides shared corporate services to other organisations, such as IT, HR, Finance, Procurement, Facilities management, and lots of others. It is my role to make sure we maintain good relationships with our customers, and at times, be the voice of the customer. This involves:

  • relationship-building
  • chatting to people
  • helping find solutions to problems
  • gathering customer feedback
  • writing reports
  • delivering presentations
  • attending lots of meetings

What skills are the most important for you to do your job well?

Listening, assertiveness, empathy, influencing, leadership, and a good sense of humour. My wife and daughter might argue that! You also need patience and be able to manage your own workload, be proactive and perhaps most importantly be a good communicator. 

What advice would you give a school leaver thinking about working in the NHS?

At the heart of what we all do in the NHS, it is about making a positive difference in people's lives. There are hundreds of different roles across the NHS. Doctors and nurses play a huge part in what makes the NHS great, but there are so many interesting roles waiting for you, that would enable you to make a difference. If you care passionately about people and want to make a difference, there is a role for you in the NHS. 

Tell us what makes you proud to be a key worker during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a kidney transplant recipient, I was shielding during most of the pandemic, while many of my colleagues were out on the front line. I am proud of what the NHS delivered during that time. There were people working in the unseen, or non-public facing roles, who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. I am immensely proud to be working in the same organisation as them. It is humbling to have played a very small part in the fight against COVID-19.