Career Story – Ragini Patel

After attending university and coming out with a degree in HRM & Business, I had no idea where life would lead me.  I joined the NHS in 2000 after having my first daughter as I decided I would like to work in the field I had studied for. I didn’t choose the NHS at this time, I fell into it – but now there is no where I would rather be.

I started my career as grade 3 on the old Whitley T&C’s as a recruitment assistant for a mental health community trust which no longer exists! I progressed from this and over the

years have worked my way to where I am now. I have gained my experience in 4 different NHS organisations in the following roles: Recruitment assistant, HR assistant, HR advisor, Childcare advisor, HR manager, HR Business partner, Deputy Head of workforce, Deputy director of people and now I’m the Director of People for RFL – which I love!


Over these years I have been able to attend formal training as well as at the start of my career having the opportunity to complete my CIPD whilst working as a HR assistant. I believe this gave me a solid foundation and grounding whereby I gained theoretical knowledge and practical experience with the ability to apply this at the same time. During my career I’ve also undertaken many leadership courses national HPMA courses such as the Aspiring director of HR programme.

During the last 21 years I have worked full-time and flexibly and taken time out to have my 2nd daughter 17 years ago.

There have been a few senior leaders which have really influenced me and given me the confidence to believe in my own ability – previous HR directors and medical directors. But at RFL – from the start I have been given the autonomy I needed to flourish, thanks to some great leaders. I have demonstrated my skill and ability to deliver – more so then ever before by taking on acting Chief People officer responsibilities during the covid 19 pandemic.

On reflection everything in my life has happened at pace, but I know this is because I am a ‘doer’ – I have grabbed all opportunities  along the way to help increase my skill set and knowledge base even it meant dealing with outgoing TUPE’s as a grade 3 with no previous HR experience. I have seen the focus of HR change and think we are on the verge of understanding the true value a HR professional can bring to a situation.

I have been lucky to have some amazing experiences and not been let down by the NHS system as perhaps other ethnic minority staff may have.  However It would be remiss of me if I didn’t speak out to say there have been occasions when I’ve felt some strange underlying tensions, something you cannot put your finger on but you feel in your gut and then it hits you – its due to your skin color! This is reality for some and it so shouldn’t be. Hence I pledge my personal commitment to help improve staff experience in the NHS -regardless of your ethnicity.

Be authentic to yourself,  own your principles and personal work ethic. Treat others as you would wish to treated always.

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