David Slade – International Director – Compounding and Pharmacy, Icon Group and Founder, Slade Health

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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 epicentre 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  0:50  
David, thank you for joining C-Suite Partners’ In the Boardroom. 

David Slade  0:53  

Michael Murray  0:54  
Can you just take our viewers back to where you started your career and to where you’re at today? 

David Slade  0:59  
Yeah, sure. My journey into business began when I started on a paper round as a kid, and it was then that I worked out that, you know, being in business was for me, and actually looking after my customers was for me. And so I guess my background is that, you know, being part of a family that owned a business, a small business really exposed me to the machinations and how how businesses operate, what drives business, how to look after customers, how to engage with different people from different backgrounds, and it was just part of my DNA that, you know, work in the business, have an input into how the business would grow and develop. And equally, I was interested in the pharmacy profession. So I went off and did pharmacy. And then I went back and did my Commerce degree. And then I came into the business and my journey in the business by that point was in our retail pharmacy which is located in Richmond at the Epworth Hospital. And I began working as a pharmacist at the coalface we grew the business, and we expanded into aged care, we expanded into, further into hospital pharmacy, and then into compounding pharmacy. And as part of that tender, we made the decision. And I think, you know, in hindsight, it was a good decision. But at the time, we had no idea. But we thought you know what we’re gonna get into sterile compounding, and opened up what’s called a GMP compounding business, it’s now called Slade health. 

Michael Murray  2:38  
So could you just give us a very short version of what compounding actually is for our viewers? 

David Slade  2:43  
Yeah, sure. So we, compounding is the art of mixing medicines together and make them customised to suit individual patient needs. So a doctor writes a prescription for you based on your unique body characteristics. And for products like chemotherapy that are quite toxic and very specialised, what you need versus what the next person needs can be very different. So we take what the doctor’s orders are, and we mix those medicines and make them specific to you. And then we distribute them, you know, each and every day, and the products that we’re mixing, you know, some of them have very, very short shelf life. So we have to mix it and get it to a person, sometimes within 90 minutes,

Michael Murray  3:33  
90 minutes?

David Slade  3:33  
Yeah, 90 minutes, up to sometimes 90 days we have a shelf life of. So you know, we have to work with our hospitals and pharmacy departments and make sure that we can get those products mixed, and to the patients in a timely way.

Michael Murray  3:34  
How are you managing that growth? How are you doing it? Because that’s quite significant. What are the challenges that you think are at the coalface of you getting to the next stage?

David Slade  4:02  
Looking, managing the growth? You know, I have to say, you know, having a great team of people around me has been has been incredibly important. I couldn’t have done it with the right people in the right positions. So being aware, you know, I’m, I’m aware of what my strengths are and what my weaknesses are. And then where my weaknesses are, you know, I try and find people who, who fills those gaps. And equally, finding people who have a different opinion, you know, surrounding yourself with people who just say yes or just agree with you, it doesn’t add value. I don’t think we could have achieved what we’ve achieved without people who have really pushed the boundary and challenged the status quo. Be it in operational matters, supply chain matters, quality matters, IT, everything. You know, you’ve got to, you have to push. And you have to challenge.

Michael Murray  5:03  
What you’re actually doing is absolutely impacting people’s lives. Does that still sit with you in terms of all the commercial stuff that you do every day? Do you kind of reflect on, on what you’re actually doing?

David Slade  5:17  
Every day.

Michael Murray  5:19  
Every day? 

David Slade  5:20  
Yeah, never forget where I’ve come from. And at the end of the day, we are a business that is looking after patients. Patients who have families.

Michael Murray  5:31  
The stakes are so high all the time. And one of the questions that I’ve been pushed to ask in this series, by everyone that watches In the Boardroom, is executive burnout. How do you deal with it? How do you manage it? And obviously, you’ve learned a few tricks over the years to know when it’s coming. Can you talk me through that? 

David Slade  5:53  
It’s very hard to be on all the time. And whilst in your own business, you are, there are, I guess, grades of being on. And so for me, what works really well is early in the mornings, or, you know, when I get home from work, exercise.

Michael Murray  6:12  

David Slade  6:12  
That for me, is where, you know, it’s nearly like a meditation of sorts. You get an ability to, just to think.

Michael Murray  6:20  

David Slade  6:20  
Just to you know, if you’re running you can just run and have your own your thoughts. When you first, perhaps first start running, it’s all these things. 

Michael Murray  6:30  
Yep, you’re concentrating on something else.

David Slade  6:31  
You know? And then after 5 or 10 Ks, the thoughts have gone and you’re just in this quiet zone. 

Michael Murray  6:32  

David Slade  6:33  
And sometimes you get the best ideas, or you get moments of clarity, where issues that were problems that you were facing, you find solutions for. Or you find a path that you might want to take that can get you to a solution. 

Michael Murray  6:54  
Well that’s a great way to end it, David. Thank you very much for your time on C-Suite Partners. 

David Slade  6:58  
Thank you.

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