Procurement Graduate, Nathan Jones, reflects on his NHS LPP journey so far

A graduate scheme is just one of the diverse career options available at NHS London Procurement Partnership (NHS LPP). In September 2022, we were pleased to welcome three procurement graduates to the organisation – Nathan Jones, Brayden Chan and Tom Holland – to give them the opportunity to work at the very core of the NHS and develop their career and skills in the procurement space. As he approaches his halfway point in his procurement graduate journey, Nathan Jones, sits down and reflects on his journey with us so far.

As I am approaching the halfway point in my two-year role at NHS LPP, I wanted to share some thoughts and experiences of being a Procurement Graduate.

Before starting at NHS LPP, I studied Management at the University of Kent. There I learned Strategic Human Resource Management, Operations Management, Corporate Strategy, Financial Analysis, and many more modules which have given me the knowledge and skills required to work in an organisation such as NHS LPP. Fresh after graduating with my degree, I joined NHS LPP through the NHS Procurement Graduate Training Scheme, supported by the HCSA. I wanted to put my degree into practice in a business-related profession, and procurement was something I could identify with through my education. I also wanted to join an organisation which aligned with my values of making a positive difference to people’s lives, and I knew the NHS is somewhere I could do that. Knowing that my work will either directly or indirectly help people was something I wanted to be a part of.

To sum up my role as a Procurement Graduate, I support my colleagues with projects and day to day work, learn as much about procurement and the organisation as possible, all whilst completing my L4 Commercial Procurement and Supply Apprenticeship which includes a L4 Procurement and Supply CIPS qualification. In order to help facilitate this learning, I carry out rotations in most of the NHS LPP teams lasting between two and three months.

So, what are some of the things I get up to during my time on rotations? I have so far been in the Procurement Shared Services team (PSS), Systems & BI, Estates Facilities & Professional Services (EFPS), and I am currently in the Customer team, which includes Accounts Management and Communications and Marketing. I join in on the team meetings and have one to ones with many of my colleagues to understand the things they are responsible for. I also shadow and attend project meetings and help support those projects in any way I can.

My largest challenge came during my time with the System & BI team as it largely varied from what I had experienced with my previous team, PSS. I was exposed to how NHS LPP’s systems are maintained and how Power BI is used to represent data which is captured through our systems. One key project I completed was where I created a report for the Medicine Optimisation and Pharmacy Procurement (MOPP) team’s Homecare 2021 Framework. I had to learn from scratch how to use Power BI so I watched hours of Enterprise DNA tutorial videos in order to gain an understanding of the software. This was a steep learning curve but I am glad I persevered as I was really proud of the finished outcome.

During my EFPS rotation, I was involved in a number of projects; the main project being the Imperial Hard FM contract. Here, I was able to attend my first in-person moderation meetings, as well as the preparation meetings leading up to these moderations. This was a great experience as I saw how procurement professionals engage with stakeholders throughout the whole moderation exercise. It was impressive to see such an organised process - so a big shout-out to Risha Mehta, Senior Category Manager, and Remmy Kamya, Category Manager, who led the project!

I was also invited to watch the supplier presentations. This was a great opportunity as I was opened up to a more personal side of the suppliers which is not necessarily seen through the tendering process.

So, has the experience been what I expected? No… it has been better than expected!
I can confidently say that NHS LPP has some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable people I have met, and I cannot be more grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to work here.