David Simpson - General Manager Health Benefits - Medibank

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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  0:35  
David, thank you for joining us C-Suite Partners in the boardroom. 

David Simpson  0:38
My pleasure. 

Michael Murray  0:39
So talk me through your career to date

David Simpson  0:42  
Certainly been a diverse career, Michael. I started off as a physiotherapist. I did that a few years sort of spending time and private hospitals spending time even in a school, teaching disabled children to walk, but quickly realized that, you know, my heart was really in business and to be able to blend both my experience within the healthcare environment and as a clinician, but also as as a business person really interested me. So moved into medical sales is a natural segue after completing some postgraduate qualifications. Currently, my role is general manager of health benefits at Medibank. And really, what that encompasses is looking at all the commercial arrangements for many bankers, for large private health insurer, negotiating with hospitals and ensuring the best outcome for our customers and members.

Michael Murray  1:33  
And where do you see healthcare in the, in the next 10 years through the crystal ball?

David Simpson  1:38  
I think it healthier is going to be really exciting. I think there’s a broad global movement for consumers, and people wanting to know more information about what they’re consuming, and what they’re purchasing. And I think that’s incredibly exciting. There’s a lot of stuff happening in many other industries, whether or not that be general insurance may be banking may be FMCG. And I think consumers have that same expectation for the healthcare services, and that will only drive improvements and innovation within the healthcare sector.

Michael Murray  2:04  
So we’ve got the 10 years in the future, if we go back 10 years, what advice you wish you were given?

David Simpson  2:13  
Think if I went back early in my career, and something I’ve realized, and maybe the last decade was the importance of culture, I think, as an executive, one of the really important things is to be able to reflect, you know, in terms of having executive presence, how did I, how did I respond in that situation is the things that I can do better. And that means pausing. And that means somebody challenging you asking you and getting you to reflect. And through that I think he can become far more effective, your performance improved.

Michael Murray  2:38  
So in terms of your career, can you talk me through an influential leader that you worked with why they were influential to you?

David Simpson  2:46  
I’ve been lucky to work for a number of really great leaders, but one stands out in particular. And it was very early in my career. She was a general manager, country manager for a large multinational health care company. And what I respected most about her and learned so much, was the importance as a leader of setting clear expectations direction, and most importantly, vision. Where are we actually heading to and that energizes people. And then let them go and deliver against that vision. let them decide, let them script, the path. And at the end of the day, then understand what the results are. So hold people accountable for them, and reward them and celebrate those results.

Michael Murray  3:24  
Okay, what skill set did you think you need to uplift when you first came into a proper executive role, where you’re right there, the boardroom table? was a financial? Was it EQ, what was it?

David Simpson  3:37  
I really like this notion of executive presence, I think it’s absolutely critical to be successful. And it’s because, at the end of the day, an executive key role of that is role modeling, you know, role modeling what you, you need from other people, you set the tone for everybody around you. And one of the things, as you know, that I’ve always subscribed to is the importance of being present, or right, giving people time being present, understanding, listening, and responding. I think the other thing is about showing up ready, it’s really important as an executive to show up ready, be there be all there and you will deliver it to your best performance. Equally, I think one of the most critical elements of being a successful executive is the ability to manage relationships, whether or not that inside the organisation outside of the organisation up down sideways, it doesn’t matter. That is the key recipe to success as a no as as an executive in my view.

Michael Murray  4:34  
Okay and what’s your gut tell you about healthcare, 10 years down the line?

David Simpson  4:39  
I think we’ve got a significant challenge ahead of us, I think, you know, we’ve got an aging population, which we’ve been talking about for a long time. comorbidities within the population is an old-time high. And we can’t use existing models. We can’t run the health system like we have in the past because the game has changed. We need to be innovative. We need to have courage, and that’s another important part of it. executives try something new, start small and make it big. But you can’t be worried about what could happen all the time you put in the right mitigations within risk. And then you actually try it, you scale it and you grow. And that’s what successful healthcare system will do going forward, in my view.

Michael Murray  5:15  
And what about work-life balance? How do you manage that you believe there is a work-life balance scenario that happens in your level of position?

David Simpson  5:24  
I think it’s about choice. I think it’s about discipline. But I actually have a sacrosanct time, which is with my daughters and my wife in the weekend, often go for very long walks, we talk. One of the things going back to my daughter, and I often, you know, speak with her, she’s very interested in current events and politics and what’s going on in the world. And one of the things that she’s taught me, which I think is incredibly important, is the power of asking questions, right? Through her asking me questions when I don’t necessarily know the answer. Yeah. Makes me learn. Yeah. I don’t know who the President of Iceland is. But when she asked me that question, it’s taught me I need to go and find out. And I think that’s a great gift to actually use the same sort of thing as when you’re asking other people in the organisation, whether or not it’s the chairman. Whether or not it’s one of your peers, the chief executive, it doesn’t matter by asking those questions you can teach, you can learn. And I actually think, to my earlier point around coaching and reflection that gives you time to actually get some clear thinking space to be a more effective executive. When you come back on. 

Michael Murray  6:29
How do you want to be remembered? 

David Simpson  6:31
I’d like to be remembered as somebody who contributed to an organisation through growing other people, through sharing knowledge, experience wisdom, in order to make other people meet their goals and contribute to the broader organization’s performance and success.

Michael Murray  6:47  
Fantastic David, well thank you for being with C-Suite Partners in the boardroom. 

David Simpson  6:51
My pleasure, thanks, Michael.

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