August 08

07:50 to Waterloo

07:50 to Waterloo

When planning my holiday before my Pulse assignment I was thinking of just having a break, clearing my mind and being active. So, when I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago from Porto to Santiago I did not expect to take away so many things that now help me with my PULSE adventure. “The Camino provides” is a constant mantra for me now. What does that mean? Well when walking every day without having made reservations for accommodation or having done research on where to get your breakfasts, lunches, dinners or even on how far you will be walking each day, you need to trust that whatever decision you make on the day will take you to a good place – and that you will not walk alone (unless you decide to). So, I learnt ….. the Camino does indeed provide!

Camino

Just take every day step by step, decide on what is your best judgement and take things with a smile! This newly found fundamental trust in things turning out for the best when you just move forward with a positive mindset and openness to anything the day brings I found very reassuring and comforting and it gave me a quiet confidence that if I met my PULSE journey with that same attitude it will be a great one.

It’s been 5 weeks into my assignment now – has it really only been that long? With all the new impressions in this short time it feels so much longer! Pulse and Save the Children International (SCI) surprised me already before I started my assignment as I was told that I would be joining the Sustainable Delivery Team (SDI) on a workshop in Tanzania rather than going to their offices in central London on my first day – so it was the 21:00 flight to Dar Es Salaam instead of the 7:50 train to Waterloo! For those who know me a little you can imagine that I was more than up for that 😊.

So far it has worked …. I could have not wished for a better start!

So, there I was arriving straight from my holidays with my head full of questions and my heart full excitement about such a great introduction to SCI. By the end of the week some questions were answered, but my head must have expanded over time because there were soooo many more now, and for my heart – well that was and still is happy and grateful for the fantastic opportunity I am living now. It was great to be right in the middle of what SDI does and to see how they do it. I have not seen Problem Solving methodologies so efficiently and sympathetically applied for a long time and both delivery and outcomes being accepted with so much openness and enthusiasm. I left with the reassurance that both the “why” and the “how” of what SDI does are something I can relate as well as contribute to going forward.

SCI 1

Being back in the UK and this time really on the commuter train I had a busy 2 weeks going through training material, workshop material, background reading and meeting people, while also absorbing and trying to gorge out the culture, office etiquette and expectations from me as the newbie and GSK volunteer. The “shut up and listen” mantra from our PULSE orientation workshop proved and still is proving to be the key to opening myself up to a new organisational remit that is entirely focussed and aligned behind the “Every Last Child” Campaign https://campaigns.savethechildren.net/about. This is a very powerful and emotive target and I felt aligning my assignment activities behind this will be something that I will enjoy immensely!

I had a chance to test if I would be able to do this last week when I (unexpectedly) lead one of the SDI workshops for the Malawi country office. Dropped in at the deep end my learning curve had steepened quite a bit and you might be able to empathise with the pressure I felt. Remember though “the camino provides” 😊 so I took it day by day, stepped, sidestepped and felt my way through this challenge. The aim of the workshops is building and deepening understanding and acceptance of KPIs, how to use them to analyse underlying processes and taking accountability for any improvement needs identified. I really felt the pressure of not only doing the participants’ expectations, but also the SDI team’s hard work in developing the materials and methodology justice as well as presenting myself as a GSK PULSE volunteer in the best possible way! It was long days filled with preparation and delivery and lots of consultation with the team back in London (Thank you WhatsApp!) who supported me brilliantly! So, at the end of the 3 days I left very tired, but with a great feeling of achievement to have been able to help the people who are delivering life changing programs for children identify how they can work more collaboratively and efficiently together. What a great start – and that was only my first few weeks! I can’t wait to see what my next experiences will be!SCI2