Ccentric Interview with Frances Peart
Frances Peart was placed by Ccentric as the Interim Executive Director of Nursing at Top End Health Service in 2018. She has extensive nursing experience in Queensland Health as well as experience in aged care and private hospitals.
What was your most recent position?
I was recently working in the Northern Territory as the Executive Director, Nursing and Midwifery at Top End Health Service. The role provided leadership and strategic management of the nursing and midwifery professions.
How long did that project last?
The contract was for six months so I was able to experience both the wet and the dry seasons of Darwin.
What were the characteristics that primarily attracted you to an Interim role?
I have worked in temporary appointments many times before and I saw taking on this interim role as an opportunity to prove my skills. I was very excited about the adventure.
Have you encountered any challenges within an Interim position that you may not have experienced having been in a permanent role?
There are lots of challenges with an interim role. The main issue for me was not having the time to help the organisation to embed the changes that I implemented. Six months is a very short time in terms of change management. I was able to make some great improvements whilst I was in the position in the Northern Territory, however, I wasn’t able to see them through to becoming business as usual and that was unfortunate. In a previous role in the Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer in Queensland, I wasn’t given a timeframe for my temporary appointment. My appointment was week-to-week and month-to-month which meant that I couldn’t create an action plan with trajectories beyond a week and I found that frustrating.
Did you find it challenging to hand-over the role?
I hold the view that I have stewardship of positions within organisations rather than ownership of them and it is my responsibility to hand on that aspect of the organisation that I was responsible for, to the next person. I don’t have any problems handing over. We are all on the one team – improving the health and wellbeing of Australians.
Do you believe that an interim role can serve as an opportunity for personal growth?
Working an interim role is a magnificent adventure: it is like a working holiday. You get to live in a new place and you can be a tourist on weekends and that’s what I did. It was fantastic.
Did you have any concerns before accepting the Interim role?
I was actually looking forward to the opportunity. My main concern was about how often I would see my family, but that issue was solved with an airfare.
One of the things that I didn’t realise is how isolated Darwin is. It is physically and professionally isolated. When taking on an interim role, your personal and professional networks are your lifeline as you develop new relationships. It is so important to stay connected to the industry and your profession and this was particularly important in Darwin.
Are there any other challenges you have encountered in an interim role?
They say that when you undertake a position in an acting capacity, you can only do 75% of the role. I don’t believe that is true for interim roles. As a temporary incumbent, you can make the role your own. Even though your appointment is for a short fixed term, you can craft systems and processes to suit your personality and style. The counterpoint to this is that you are merely a caretaker and your responsibility is to just maintain the status quo. My concern with this view is that it detracts from the person’s ability to perform the role. Having an interim appointee in an organisation is an opportunity to improve systems and processes and we should take advantage of every opportunity presented to us.
What was your first job out of University and how did it shape your future career path?
I did not go to university when I left school. I worked in a hospital and completed a hospital-based course and I stayed with that employer for 23 years. When I did go to university, I became a Nurse Educator and taught in the General Nursing Course at the same hospital. I then went on to do a Master of Nursing course and moved into nursing management including as the Director of Nursing.
Since moving on from that employer, I have consolidated my management experience in private not-for-profit hospitals and community services; private for-profit hospitals and residential aged care. Five years ago, I completed a Doctor of Philosophy qualification and I have now moved onto the public sector and I am really enjoying it.
What were the benefits of working with an executive recruiter to secure this opportunity?
There are many things to consider when negotiating a new position and Ccentric made it very easy for me to concentrate on the important issues. Sarah understands my strengths and aspirations and she was able to identify a role that I was eminently suited to. Sarah advocated for my selection and completed preliminary negotiations on my behalf. After my interview, Sarah finalised the arrangements and my appointment to Top End Health Service was seamless.
How has your experience been with Ccentric?
Sarah has been working with me for many years now and we have built up a great working relationship. We are able to quickly check in with each other and discuss current opportunities. I really enjoy working with Sarah.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Moreton Bay is so close to home and I love to go out on our boat in the bay.
What is the best book you have read this year?
Heads you win by Jeffery Archer. He tells a great yarn.
If you were to give a person some advice about starting an interim role, what would it be?
The team that you will be working with will be grateful that you are able to take the reins for a short period. They will be happy to support you and help you to succeed. Take the time to get comfortable with your interim position and enjoy yourself. Your positive energy will be contagious and you will reap many rewards from the experience.
For more information about Frances Peart and interim staff, check out our 5 minutes with Interim Executives article here.