Hello readers, we hope you enjoy our latest instalment! We have some exciting news to share in this blog post, which is that we have recently appointed a new Project Manager: Sangeeta Patel. We decided now would be a good time to introduce you to her and find out more about her plans for Moneywise Plus.
What is your background, what did you do before coming to Moneywise Plus?
My background is in Human Resources, and my career started in London with international aid agencies – Save the Children and HelpAge International. I then moved overseas and started working as a consultant, again mostly for aid agencies, which is when I also started doing project based work. I was overseas for about 13 years, working in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Costa Rica and Canada. In Canada I worked with Canadian aid agencies. In my last position I was one of the first managers on a start-up project that was implemented across six countries. We were literally starting the project from scratch: we didn’t even have an office! It was a five-year project, working with disadvantaged young people to move them into employment, business, or further education and training. I then moved back to Leicester for family reasons.
How did you hear about and come to be involved with Moneywise Plus?
I first learnt of Reaching People when I saw another job advertised by them, which caught my attention because of my strong interest in the voluntary sector. I had been doing some volunteering, including refugee support work with the British Red Cross and providing HR support to Zinthiya Trust. I am also an Enterprise Advisor with Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, supporting a special needs school in a planning strategically to help get their students into work after leaving school. So when the job of Project Manager on Moneywise Plus for Reaching People came up, I was very keen to apply! It drew together my personal motivation, interest in the sector and my project management skills.
How do you see the project developing under your leadership?
It seems that there’s been a lot of changes: staff changes in certain parts of the project, as well as the teething problems of getting systems set up and refined. I get the impression that things are now starting to settle down: we have a good, strong, committed team that can now move forward. Our current challenge and focus is on attaining the results that are required of us by our funder. That will need to be balanced with meeting the needs of the participants we work with, as we don’t want to lose sight of that. I want to see the project delivering as best it can in terms of meeting both its targets and the needs of participants. This will be achieved by learning from and building on each other’s experiences and strengths, trying new and creative approaches, and learning from this to be a stronger partnership.
What are the most interesting, enjoyable or challenging aspects of the job so far?
All the aspects of my role are interesting, enjoyable and challenging! What I love about the project is that it brings together a lot of organisations with lots of different expertise. I believe working together helps efficiency, creativity, and ensures that we’re meeting the needs of people in Leicester and Leicestershire in a planned and coordinated way. I quite like ‘making things work’, so if I can manage to do that and meet our targets at the end of the project I will be very happy. The other interesting part for me is the insight I’ve gained into Leicester and the communities here, I am learning a lot about the city I grew up in. I also enjoy meeting the people involved in the project, and finding out about the great work that they are doing. Another major challenge is meeting the needs of our participants within the strict project rules and regulations, including dealing with the admin, reporting and focus on targets. To make the project work from the point of view of the participant, the advisor, our partner organisations as well as for our funder is a major challenge.
What drives you, what is your motivation?
I’ve worked for many years in the voluntary sector, and prior to that I was in the National Health Service. I like to think that if I am at work – considering how much time we spend at work – that I am going to do something that is useful. I’m a long way from the participants on Moneywise Plus and from the beneficiaries of the aid agencies I used to work for, but I can make the connection and believe that if I do my job well then ultimately it will benefit the people the organisation aims to help. Trying to make a profit doesn’t give me that same drive.
Do you or someone you know need help to develop their digital, financial and employability skills? Moneywise Plus may be able to help you achieve this and much more. We offer support for all matters digital and financial, and can help you gain volunteering skills and the confidence to become work ready. To find out if you’re eligible for our project, complete the referral form on our website or give us a call on 0300 003 7004.