Meet Vonnie Pella - Continuous Improvement Office Manager, MRN

1.) How long have you worked at MRN? 

Over 6.5 years. I started in October 2014.  

2.) A typical day in the life of Continuous Improvement at MRN would look like? 

My role and department are really about helping the business look at continuous improvement. Our day normally starts with a team scrum; we have a quick catch up about what is happening, any road blocks on projects etc. Then we are all basically in lots of meetings with teams talking about what change requirements they have or helping people think through process adjustments and mapping. So, we probably have a fairly good mix of large scale workshops across departments but also core team meetings where we talk about how we’re going to move things forward with brainstorming and planning etc.  

3.) In your opinion, what makes a great Continuous Improvement team member at MRN? 

Continuous Improvement is really culture specific and MRN use an agile approach to CI. We’re trying to do lots of chunks of small changes in a more continuous fashion . So to fit in with the MRN CI culture we really need an out of the box thinker and people who are comfortable working in unclear woolly spaces, especially whilst we’re developing this infrastructure. But they also need to be engaging, excited and enthusiastic about change as the most important aspect of change management is selling it to the business and making the business feel engaged and comfortable and really onboard with the changes that are being proposed.   

4.) What made you want to join MRN?  

For me it’s not about what made me join, it’s about what made me stay. I chose MRN as I was planning on going to Medical School which is a secondary degree in the States. I worked at MRN to get experience and recommendation letters etc for Medical School but a few years ago I got accepted to Medical School and resigned at MRN. In the process they flew me out to the UK to train my replacement for 3 months. On the day of my surprise leaving do I decided to change my career path and stay at MRN rather than attend medical school. I ended up staying with the business and I stayed because they care about their employees and you become part of the family. I know it’s a family run business, but the business itself is a family. There’s always room for growth and development and people always push you to be your best, but at the same time most of my friends from the UK are from work and even after leaving I’ve kept that friendship. So yeah I chose MRN over my childhood dream of becoming a doctor which says a lot, but I don’t regret it. I’ve made the right choice, they’ve pushed my skills and are really engaging.  

5.) What’s the best thing about your role? 

Every day is different. Actually, every hour is different. I really dislike structure especially when it comes to tasks, I get incredibly bored so in my team you go into a workshop and someone will say ‘but have you thought about it this way…’ and that changes everything so you have to think all over again. It’s like a puzzle, every challenge we approach and every change we need to make it’s just building a big puzzle which just fits with what the business needs. I think that’s the most fun part of it and although we’re not one of the key operational parts of the business we help everything work more efficiently. So we’re helping MRN to improve patient care and customer experiences and we’re the background of fixing things.    

6.) What 3 words best describe MRN for you? 

Engaged – Innovative – Global 

7.) What does MRN offer you? 

MRN offers me a lot! So, it’s not just a job, it is like an extended family. They’re like my UK family; because I moved here from work, I didn’t know anyone and a large portion of my social network in the UK is derived from MRN. So, in addition to giving me the base pay check like a job does, they give me the learning and development support that I want and encourage me to expand my skill set and try new things. They give you the room to fail so you can learn from it and push yourself further, but they don’t leave you out in the cold when you do make mistakes. They’ve given me my introduction to the world as I got my passport for this job and before this, I’d never left the US. They’ve given me the chance to travel and experience new things and still be involved in the medical field by supporting patient care without the probable frustrations of being a frontline health worker. But above all they’ve given me the space to be creative and find what I want to do as I started in vendor contracts and they recognised my skills and encouraged me to move roles even if that meant leaving another department.  

8.) Do you have advice for anybody who wants to work in your field? 

Just because someone says a certain way of working is the way to go it doesn’t have to be by the text book. At the end of the day take their advice but don’t feel limited by theory or textbooks or what was done in the past and build your own way not just do something because it’s how it’s always been done.   

9.) What motivates you to work hard? 

Some of it is just innate personality traits. I take pride in what I do so no matter what I’m doing I always want it to be the best. But specifically in a job space even though what we do isn’t directly related to patient safety or criticality, if we don’t build the best process or introduce a new change to the business smoothly and efficiently it frustrates everyone else. So it could then make someone’s job really difficult or it’s less efficient or it’s taken so long to roll out that it’s no longer needed. So for us it’s all about knowing that something we are doing is directly influencing someone else, and because you care about your co-workers and what MRN is trying to achieve it really drives you to do your best.      

10.) What is your favorite thing about your career? 

That I had no idea I was going to end up here! I think it’s also that I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up!! But MRN have shown me that this is okay to not have the answer and that you can do whatever you want and change your mind if you want. So it’s really open and flexible.