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NHS Wales Finance Academy

NHS Wales Finance Academy
NHS Wales Finance Academy

Supporting aspiring Financial Directors as they create positive change across the organisation. Cardiff Business School’s Executive Education team helped to upskill Finance Leaders in this bespoke training course, developed in partnership with the NHS Wales Finance Academy.


This Programme was developed to advance the skills of those identified as potential Finance Directors of the future within the Finance Academy’s talent pipeline.

Cardiff Business School’s Executive Education Director, Sarah Lethbridge, worked in close consultation with the NHS Wales Finance Academy, to develop the content and learning outcomes of the programme. The NHS Wales Finance Academy has a comprehensive understanding of the competencies and skills required of a successful 21st Century financial leader. The input that they provided proved invaluable.

There was a mutual desire by both the client and the Business School to provide the right learning opportunities and experiences to create cohorts of financial leaders whose knowledge and leadership will encompass much more than simply financial expertise.

The brief

The programme was designed to help the cohort develop the necessary sophisticated emotional intelligence skills to lead cultural change in a sector with diverse groups of people with different sets of expertise. Key objectives included helping the cohort drive positive change across their organisation, enabling a comprehensive understanding of the complex system they manage, as well as the huge impact that financial flows have on the delivery of successful outcomes.

The client also wished to develop further skills in their senior financial staff, including the ability to tackle poor performance, to motivate and inspire staff to innovate, and to constantly assess value to patients, staff and society. It was also important that the cohort then committed to maximising value across the entire organisation.

With this objective in mind, the University’s Executive Education, CPD Unit team, and NHS Wales Finance Academy leaders worked to create a programme to enable this cohort to realise their full potential as key architects of highly successful, efficient and effective healthcare organisations.

The approach: creating a collaborative bespoke training programme

A key component of this bespoke programme was the thorough consultation that took place with NHS Wales Finance Academy prior to the training taking place. Executive Education has a great deal of experience working with organisations to understand their needs, organisational culture, opportunities and challenges that exist. Several meetings with the NHS Wales Finance Academy and the academic deliverers were held, to tailor the taught sessions to the organisational context.

As a University, our primary objective within knowledge-transfer activities is to ensure that mutually beneficial learning takes place. We always look to embed learning within the organisation, whilst developing expertise on the ground to continue to develop knowledge after the training programme has been completed.

Course content

The programme was delivered through a mix of facilitated classroom sessions and personality profiles, as part of a wider programme of Finance Academy activity.


The learning programme was aligned to their People, Innovation, Partnership and Excellence strategy and covered the following key areas: Leadership, Healthcare, Innovation, Financial Expertise, and Personal Development and Reflection.

Modules included:

  • Public Value and Future Generations Collaborative Leadership
  • Strategy and Innovation
  • Data Analytics for Good
  • Presenting Data and Evidence to Clinical Audiences
  • Analysing and Managing Financial Sustainability.

The learning programme also included daily guest speakers who brought different voices and perspectives.

Public value at Cardiff Business School

This Executive Education programme was very important to us as a Business School as, since late 2015, we have committed to our Public Value strategy and as such, are the world’s first Public Value Business School.

In simple terms, this means that we are working to deliver social improvement as well as economic development, recognising the role that business and management has to play in tackling some of the grand challenges in contemporary society.

By embracing interdisciplinary working with academic colleagues, business partners and the third sector, we believe we can help find solutions to a range of social problems and reframe how people think of business and management.

Working in partnership with the NHS Wales Finance Academy on this programme has enabled us to really contribute to that mission. By working together with key stakeholders in the NHS in Wales, we can help them to better lead their organisations, moving away from arbitrary targets and annual budget cycles to financially supporting more progressive forms of system improvement, improving patient care beyond organisational boundaries.

We have also recently been awarded the NHS Wales Diploma in Healthcare Planning and we will be looking to achieve the same aims within this important education initiative.

Outcomes and feedback

Delegates provided feedback on how knowledgeable they felt the academic deliverers were, as well as how effectively they were able to transfer that knowledge within the context of NHS Wales and their roles as potential Financial Directors. Delegates reported that they found the approach of the course allowed them “opportunities to discuss real-life scenarios in small and wider groups”, which was particularly beneficial in translating research-led knowledge into meaningful and actionable content.

A significant objective of the programme was to build a cohort. Delegates felt that they were provided with an excellent opportunity for “wide-ranging discussions and feedback, enhancing the value of the programme”. The Resilience and Systems Leadership sessions were seen as particularly beneficial, generating fantastic feedback.

NHS Wales / Welsh Government Diploma in Healthcare Planning

Cardiff Business School was pleased to win the opportunity to work with 125 planners across a variety of NHS Wales healthcare organisations over the next five years. This programme is interdisciplinary in nature in order to provide the variety of skills needed within a planning role. It involves the Business School, the School of Maths and the School of Medicine and is taught in a two-day block with accompanying e-learning activities. Working with the NHS Wales Planning Programme for Learning and the NHS Wales Finance Academy offers us a fantastic opportunity to create positive change in Welsh healthcare.

Good mix of sessions to the day. Robin was engaging in his presentations, as was the session with Nigel Wilson. There is a good mix of individuals in the cohort and the discussions and feedback was wide ranging, enhancing the value of the day!

Participant feedback

If you would like to speak to us about how we could design and deliver a similar programme in collaboration with your organisation, please contact our friendly team at the CPD Unit for an initial informal discussion:

Continuing Professional Development Unit