Acosia Nyanin, Chief Nurse, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
I was born in Manchester but grew-up in Hackney, East London. I left college after my A-levels not sure what I want to do. My first job was as an administrator for a financial broker in the city, which was quite boring; I also did admin temping jobs in the NHS. I often tell people that I started my career in the basement of the Royal London Hospital – you see, I used to pull all of the medical records, as a clinic clerk for the oral maxillofacial consultants. I joined the Mental Health and Social Care services (NHS) after I applied for a Team Administrator job with the Islington Assertive Outreach team (Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust) – the job appealed to me as a role with a purpose – I could make a difference. I benefitted from the ‘team approach’ and found myself becoming part an integral member of the clinical team. This led me to a conversation with the then Director of Nursing (a remarkable woman) who saw my potential and as a result supported my transition into a health care assistant support role where I gained experience of working in hospital settings. With this experience, I gained entry into the nursing qualification programme at Middlesex University. That was the beginning of my nursing career and I spent 13 years at Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust.
Favourite books: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. The Alchemist. Dreams of My Father.
What do you do and where do you work?
I am Chief Nurse for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, a mental health and learning disability service. I am a professional leader with responsibility for professional development of Nurses and Social Workers, clinical strategy, clinical governance, safeguarding, people participation and Nursing education.
What motivates you in your work?
A passion to make mental health services good: providing effective care and services for our patients and service users; supporting service development that enables us to improve both the care and services that we provide. I am also motivated by being a leader in my profession and showing people what is possible. It a real privilege to be in a position to nurture and support the nursing and social care leaders of tomorrow.
What does success look like to you?
For me, success is happy, motivated, engaged and caring staff who are focused on providing the best possible care. A really effective team is one in where people are purpose-driven, collaborate, feel they can be themselves and as a team, able to deliver care and services that not only help patients and service users but also empowers them, too.
How has what you do changed as you have moved up the ladder?
My values and vision have remained constant. What has changed is how I do my role. As a leader, I have to influence people to get things done; and a role model – an exemplar of how I want staff to behave and perform.
Who has significantly influenced or made a difference to your career and how?
Three incredible women – a BAME Senior nurse who was the first senior black nurse I had ever seen and this made me think, “This is what’s possible.” Next, the Executive Director of Nursing at Camden & Islington, who saw my potential and remains my mentor. Third, the Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care, who by her behaviour showed me how to authentically lead whilst, being true to yourself.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I take my inspiration from the people around me. I am also inspired by my daughter, Ava.
What was the biggest turning point of your career?
Having my daughter Ava and becoming a mother changed by career path. I realised that I needed to take a different career path if I wanted to be able to have time with my daughter – I couldn’t work all hours. I needed to become more focused in my career rather than ‘drifting’ and more importantly, I wanted a purpose-driven career where I could make a difference to the lives of people experiencing mental ill health.
And, looking to the future, I want to demonstrate to my daughter that she can do anything that she wants and should purse a path in live that she is truly passionate about Loving what you do in life makes a real difference!
If you had to start your career again, what would you do differently?
Not worked in financial services!
What one tip or one piece of advice would you give BAME people making their way up the career ladder today?
Ultimately, you must believe in yourself because around you there will always be people telling you what you want is not possible. It’s also vital to be purpose-driven not, solely motivated by personal ambition because when the things are tough, that will not get you through. Knowing your “why” is crucial.
Do you mentor/sponsor BAME professionals making their way up the career ladder?
Yes, several. For me, I believe you must support, advice and guide those who are making their way up the ladder.
What is your next goal?
I have been Chief Nurse at Sussex Partnership for less than one year and there are many things I want to achieve. Looking ahead, I want to be an effective Executive Nurse and leader of my profession. Equally important, through the way that I do my job, I want to show black and ethnic minority people that you can do anything and that it is possible to become a leader.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate, determined, caring.