What is your current position?
I am the Executive Director of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC). The VCCC is an alliance of 10 partners working collaboratively to control and cure cancer.
What attracted you to working at the VCCC?
I am passionate about building collaborative efforts to generate major progress in complex problems. Treating cancer and creating better outcomes for our cancer patients was something that I wanted to be a bigger part of.
What is it like leading an organisation that is part of a much larger partnership and what are some of the challenges and opportunities you face?
With multi-partner collaborations, there is always a challenge around communication and bringing people together to focus on shared interests rather than the interests of individual organisations. However, this is also a big opportunity for us as we work with multiple organisations that have different strengths and capabilities.
In our alliance partners, we have the University of Melbourne, which is one of the top biomedical universities in the world, as well as two medical research institutes, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. We also work with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, which is both a hospital and medical research institute, and then another six hospitals (Western Health, Austin Health, St Vincent’s Hospital, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, The Royal Women’s Hospital and Melbourne Health). We are focused on improving cancer research and education and we are looking forward to being able to shape and find more effective ways of dealing with it. It is a very exciting goal and drives us to work hard in a complex environment. There is a huge opportunity to create a lot more by working together. The challenges we face generate opportunities.
What was your first job out of University and how did it shape your future career path?
Because I was disciplined in medicine and science, I followed a very narrow path of training. I trained as a Medical Specialist and as a Scientist and brought these two areas together, before diverting into more leadership type roles. The point of divergence was when I moved into a senior area and began to lead collaborative projects. I was involved in research that spanned both fundamental basic science through to clinical trials. This is where I developed the leadership skills I needed to work across diverse groups, particularly on building collaboration. By this point in my career, it had been 15 years since I graduated. The VCCC is a lot broader in scope than my previous career paths, which I am enjoying.
What is the most rewarding part of your current position?
I love the diversity of dealing with all components of cancer, enabling better outcomes for our patients. Some of these components include prevention, better treatment, the way we perform research and the methodology. It is very broad to try and bring everything together to achieve this aim. That is what is very special for me.
How do you and your team work to help motivate your employees?
The key for us is to continue to look at the vision that we are trying to achieve. To think about our patients – they are ultimately the group that we want to help. We also think about our collaborators and what we can do for them. We celebrate wins along the way for our patients and collaborators alike and very much keep our eye on the goal of better cancer control and outcomes for our patients.
How has your experience been with Ccentric?
Because we work in a complex environment, there were challenges in finding a person that had both research and academic expertise, alongside a strong track record in running operations in an intricate organisation. It was important that the candidate had both things.
Ccentric, were able to put forward some excellent candidates in our sector. I was very worried that I wouldn’t find the right people, but they had several appointable candidates.
What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?
My number one thing is that I love cycling. I love training and the occasional event and races.