Currently General Manager for mlcoa in Victoria (a MedHealth company), Cate is an experienced healthcare executive with expertise in change management, clinical governance and strategic leadership in clinical quality & safety. A background as a front-line clinician has provided an appreciation of the complexities faced by the health workforce, and the context in which healthcare organisations operate. Cate has recently received a Ministerial appointment to a public hospital board.
What boards do you sit on?
Your Community Health – a community health organisation and NFP enabling health, wellbeing and dignity for the people of northern Melbourne. We take a ‘whole of community’ approach towards addressing inequality. Appointed in mid-2017.
Queen Elizabeth Centre - a public hospital, providing early parenting, residential, health and mental health services to parents and their children, from pregnancy through to preschool. Appointed in mid-2018.
When and why did you decide to become a director?
I’d thought about joining a board for a while, but wasn’t entirely sure how to go about it. I attended a WOB introductory evening about 2 years ago and it helped me decide this was a goal I definitely wanted to pursue.
What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?
In the short term, I hope to continue to develop my skills, knowledge and expertise in directorship, and learn from my fellow board directors as I contribute meaningfully to the success, sustainability and growth of two really important organisations. In the medium term, board directorship may become more of a career pathway, and I have no doubt the experience will continue to be an asset to my healthcare executive career.
Outline your career background
I began my career as a nurse, midwife and clinical manager, and have since worked in the community health, indigenous health, private health insurance, management consulting, primary care and medico-legal sectors. I’ve undertaken further study including a Graduate Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice, a Master’s in Healthcare Leadership and AICD governance foundations. I’m the General Manager for mlcoa in Victoria and find the skills and knowledge gained in my executive role and board roles, to be very complimentary.
Touch on the challenges and hurdles that have presented themselves, either being on or getting onto a board, and how you overcame them?
I’ve been fortunate to have been appointed to both board roles I applied for; I think timing was in my favour, as there is a growing demand for directors with experience in clinical governance, quality and safety, which has been driven by Victorian health reforms. I think the main challenge for me, especially initially was the time required to really understand the key challenges and strategic goals of the organisation, and ensuring I was thoroughly prepared for board and committee meetings. Planning is key to ensure I dedicate the time needed to my boards, whilst succeeding in my General Manager role….. and not neglecting family time.
Have you had mentors and sponsors and how have they helped you in your career?
I’ve worked with some talented women leaders who have supported, challenged and advised me. I’ve also had invaluable support from Roseanne Healy, who is a professional board director and friend.
How did WOB help you in your journey to the boardroom?
Attending the WOB introductory evening 2 years ago helped me recognise I already had skills, experience and expertise that would be of value to a healthcare board. The evening really motivated me to undertake research, networking and professional development, and set myself a clear goal of joining a board with a year. Both of the boards I have been appointed to were advertised through WOB.
Any tips for women starting out in their career?
Critically analyse your experience and seek advice; you may already have what a board is looking for, or just need to undertake some introductory or short course study to be board-ready. I also found talking to other women on boards and understanding what was involved to be very important; board roles are time consuming, but in my experience, also incredibly rewarding when you are contributing to an organisation you really care about.