From an MBA to the NHS – David Monk, OUBS Alumnus of the Year

David completed his BSc(Hons)(Open) and MBA at the OU, was the first non-doctor medical director of St Johns Ambulance and is a 2021 Alumni of the Year Award Winner.

The following article was written by David Monk, an OU alumnus and Emergency/Urgent Care Senior Manager, Senior Paramedic in the NHS.

I recently had the honour and privilege to receive the OUBS Alumni of the Year for 2021.

Coming from the NHS it was a real surprise to be voted the Alumni of the year when I was up against international leaders from all sectors. Perhaps the award is a testament to the fact that everyday extraordinary people in the NHS achieve amazing things, helping our communities whilst never seeing their work as anything but ordinary. 

The last 18 months have been a whirlwind for those working in health and social care; we never had the respite many saw due to lockdown, and although I don’t underestimate the effect of lockdown on others and their lives, many a time friends told me about their DIY projects during those days when they couldn’t leave home whilst I and many others were working another seven day week doing all we could to fight an invisible adversary in the face of ever-changing guidance and information. 

I was awarded the alumni of the year for my work in the NHS and as a volunteer with St John Ambulance, and the impact my work and volunteering had on our communities. I never saw what I was doing as anything more than doing my job/role. 

Writing this at the end of November 2021 after six weeks off to recover from surgery, affording me time for reflection upon the pandemic, you begin to realise just how much has been achieved in such a short space of time: transforming how services are delivered and patients’ access healthcare, launching national services to support volunteers committed to helping the NHS, and doing the very best alongside full-time NHS staff. 

Looking back you realise that the tacit knowledge developed through OU studies and more importantly the MBA came into its own. I also look back and wonder how on earth I found time for all the study! Stakeholder engagement, transformation, challenging the status quo, leading ‘knowledge workers’, programme and project management are all areas of study that I dug into without really realising. 

Reflection often helps us realise where gratitude lies and I reflect that without my MBA I wouldn’t have risen to the level I have within the NHS and I wouldn’t have been able to deliver in the way I have since the pandemic began, making the positive changes that have been seen. 

As I write this I am sitting on a cruise ship. Late last night I received a message from a colleague to say that two of the projects I have worked on with the wider health system won the Health Service Journal Award for driving efficiency through technology – it s great to receive another accolade for Herculean efforts made possible by the MBA.

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