C-Suite Partners

Caroline Hudson – Former Group HR – Mater Group

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Transcript

Intro  0:13  
Many aspire to reach the upper echelon of the healthcare industry, but few are able to successfully navigate the corporate ladder. As Asia becomes the world epicenter of the healthcare industry, C-Suite Partners sits down with international healthcare executives asking the tough questions and unpacking the personalities of the top industry leaders.

Welcome to the boardroom.

Michael Murray  0:36  
Caroline, thank you for joining C suite partners in the boardroom. 

Caroline Hudson  0:39
My pleasure. 

Michael Murray  0:40
Talk me through your background, because you’re the first executive that we’ve had that’s got an HR background. We’re very interested to understand that. 

Caroline Hudson  0:47
Okay, so I’ve spent a couple of decades in health. Originally in the 80s, I was in healthcare, I left and went into a number of commercial organisations including Wesfarmers largest Australian industrial conglomerate, so very different environment to healthcare, and I spent some time working for the West Australian state governments, premiere and cabinet and other government authorities. So I had experience in a range of industries in HR roles. And then I was invited in the early 2000s, back into healthcare. That was a decision that I didn’t take lightly. I was concerned at the time in the early 2000s, that coming into healthcare may be career-limiting, that others don’t understand the complexity of health, other industries, traditionally, don’t acknowledge that health care professionals have anything to offer them. And so coming into healthcare may have been career limiting and I decided that the challenges that were there, the opportunity was too great to miss a limited space living in Brisbane is not such a hardship. 

Michael Murray  1:54
Yes. And being a HR executive. You’re at the coalface of, I suppose, the Workforce? I’m very interested from an executive standpoint, what do you look for the three attributes that you look for in executives? 

Caroline Hudson  2:07
In healthcare, particularly, I think it’s extremely important that executives have the ability to execute. We are all very creative and innovative and we’re strategy-driven, which is fabulous. But these are just dreams on a bookshelf, if you can’t implement them, yes. And there’s a degree of passive resistance in health, that perhaps is more ingrained, perhaps than in other industries, healthcare has looked very much the same for hundreds of years. And clinicians are not necessarily keen to change the way they do things. So execution is hard. It’s challenging, but it’s critical to making the difference that we have to make. So that’s a key skill.
The ability to influence is really important because you’re working outside your profession often with people who have a completely different background to your own and then probably last thing, authentic and high integrity leadership. so important. People will see through you if you’re not authentic. 

Michael Murray  3:11
Yes. And that’s the EQ versus IQ piece that I always follow up with this question. Do you think that’s lacking in executives the EQ side of things, or are we getting a little bit better at that? 

Caroline Hudson  3:23
I think we’re getting better, definitely. I think it would be unfair to say that we’re all lacking this. Absolutely differences in executives and between executives, and there are some who are incredibly in touch with their emotions and their impact on others, which is essentially EQ. But there are still, unfortunately, those who are promoted unit their technical competence and we see that in healthcare.

Michael Murray  3:47
So can you talk me through the executive skill set that you had to uplift coming into the role with a martyr, there had to be a few points of differentiation from your, your previous role? 

Caroline Hudson  3:56
Yes, yes, was very different from my previous role. Previously, I’d had to be quite commercial. Naturally, I had a leadership role in HR. So obviously, very people-focused. But this role required me to also understand the mission, which is a not-for-profit Catholic organisation is incredibly important. And there was a point in probably the first 12, 18 months I was at the Mater with one of the sisters on the board said to me at a meeting, Caroline, she said you do the commercial speak really well. She said, but not so the religious, okay. And I was a bit shocked. But at the same time, it made perfect sense. I found it incredibly difficult. The religious language didn’t run off my tongue and it held me back in terms of what I was able to offer the organisation. So I really needed to immerse myself in that. And whilst I’m absolutely not a religious leader, I feel quite comfortable talking to religious people now and understanding what it is that we need to be doing in our organization and how we need to drive mission and the subtleties that are required to support my mission leadership colleagues in the work that they do.

Michael Murray  5:00  
If you think about your career spanning the past 20, 25 years any regrets that come to mind?

Caroline Hudson  5:13
And the rest!

Michael Murray  5:15
Yes, but let’s just say the past 25.

Caroline Hudson  5:17  
Any regrets? Possibly, it’s probably more personal than professional in terms of regret. But when I work for an organisation, I’ve immersed myself in it, I put my head down and my tail off and I and I completely focus on the job that needs to be done. And in doing that, sometimes I stay down too long. Sometimes I need to knock out and watch what’s happening to my career and what’s happening around me and be more aware of opportunities as they arise. And sometimes I’ve left my run just a little bit too late. When perhaps I should have moved earlier, somebody more focused on managing their career, which is kind of ironic, given I come from HR might have made a move earlier than I have done in the past. Yeah, so that’s probably the only regret. 

Michael Murray  6:07
So how would you describe your career in one word?

Caroline Hudson  6:11
Dynamic.

Michael Murray  6:11  
Dynamic. Caroline, thank you for spending time with C-Suite Partners in the boardroom. 

Caroline Hudson  6:14
My pleasure.