Spotlight on Angela Graneek

28 November 2013

This week the spotlight is on Angela Graneek, Head of UCL Occupational Health Services

Angela Graneek

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am Head of Occupational Health Services (OHS) at UCL. I lead a professional team of clinical specialists and committed administrators. The OH Service provides objective advice to managers and staff on issues relating to work and health. The Service aims to help UCL to provide a healthy cultural and physical environment in which teaching and research can flourish.

I am also a member of the Human Resource Division Leadership Team, involved in developing UCL’s HR strategy.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

Eleven years! This amuses me, as there is always something new to surprise me at UCL, so it doesn’t feel so long. Before coming here, I worked in the City for a private occupational health provider. The clients ranged from offshore workers to City bankers and lawyers. As you can imagine, their OH needs were very different. I worked mainly with international law firms and was also involved in business planning and contracts.

I started my occupational health career in the retail sector in a Grace Brothers-style department store – a fascinating introduction to OH. I have also worked in Occupational Health Services in the Post Office, the NHS and Scientific Research Institutes. 

I have enjoyed working with all client groups, as the challenges are always different. Even when the nature of work is similar, the culture of an organisation (and in some cases its departments) is unique. This variety is one of the attractions of working in the Occupational Health field and may explain why I have stayed so long at UCL. There is a great variety of work undertaken here and, dare I say, an interesting mix of cultures.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I am pleased to say that there are a few, as I have been working in OH for some time. They range from setting up effective wellbeing programmes when I worked as a practitioner – the participants said ‘it’s my manager who needs this course’ and one person fell asleep and snored through a relaxation class! Neither response was what I was aiming for, but we turned it around. 

I was also proud to have successfully introduced computerised systems to a reluctant OH Service and got a real thrill when we tendered for and won new business contracts. 

However, these achievements were topped recently when UCL's Occupational Health Service achieved independent accreditation as a Safe, Effective, Quality Occupational Health Service (SEQOHS). The accreditation was the culmination of months of hard work in ensuring our practice not only met the rigorous standards set by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, but that we had the evidence to prove it. 

SEQOHS accreditation to occupational health is what ISO 9000 accreditation is to business. Accreditation is now a requirement for NHS OH services and provides competitive advantage to private OH providers. UCL OHS was the first Russell Group University OH Service in England to be accredited and the fourth university OH Service in the UK. 

I am very proud not only of the achievement, but of my colleagues who worked so hard to prove that we met the standards, despite managing an unprecedented growth in demand for OH services. I lead and work with a fantastic team.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list

Continuous improvement is top of the list, as we cannot rest on our laurels, but need to demonstrate continuous improvement to maintain accreditation. We are already developing services to add more value to UCL, as well as delivering occupational health to undergraduate health care students to ensure they meet the occupational health standards required to work in the NHS. This is an exciting new challenge for us and we will need to develop a new approach to service delivery through new technologies that will benefit all our users. 

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album: I have many favourites and never seem to listen to one album from start to finish. So I will choose Bob Dylan at Budokan, mainly because it was one of the soundtracks to my student days.

Film: La Vita è Bella is one film that stands out for raising such a mix of emotions, from joy to sadness, tinged with indignation.

Novel: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is my lasting favourite; wonderful characters, dialogue and dark humour. 

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

I don’t recall any pre- or post-watershed jokes and even if I did, I would probably forget the punch line, so I will pass on that question. 

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Friends and family are my dream dinner guests, but I could ask Raymond Blanc – he seems jolly and might help out in the kitchen. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be more persistent…

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I have an RHS Certificate in Horticulture, which is great, because I can name my ‘national collection’ of weeds and gastropods in Latin. 

What is your favourite place?

I can find something to call ‘favourite’ in all the places I have visited. As long as there is good food, good company and a great view it could be anywhere. Kinsale in County Cork and Mawgan Porth in Cornwall both fit that bill. 

That aside, I really enjoy the view from Richmond Hill looking down on the bend in the river. I used to drive past it daily travelling to work. The Peak District National Park is also a favourite and on the doorstep of my home town. Then there are the views from Ravello on the Amalfi coast and… as I said I can find something to call favourite almost everywhere.