Mark Middleton - Group Chief Executive Officer - Icon Group AU

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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  
Mark, thank you for joining C-Suite Partners in the boardroom.

Mark Middleton  0:38  
Great to be here. Thank you for the invitation.

Michael Murray  0:39  
What do you see healthcare in the next 10 years?

Mark Middleton  0:42  
Well, I think it’s a, it’s an incredibly exciting time to be in healthcare, I certainly see that healthcare will continue to develop and evolve. I think we’re seeing technology and innovation come to bear in healthcare far more than ever before. And that will continue to drive growth and drive opportunity, and also deliver more health care to more people. We also will see, of course, the fact that people are harnessing innovation and technology. And with the thought that somehow that will also help you with your workforce issues and all those sorts of things. And I think there’ll be an element of that. But you will always need great people involved in healthcare and great teams, and by extension, great leaders, 

Michael Murray 1:27
And ICON have got a focus in Asia. Everyone wants to get into Asia, but it seems quite difficult for some organizations, how did you approach it personally?

Mark Middleton  1:34  
Well, I think we were approached by firstly, identifying a great acquisition in Singapore and definitively deciding that Singapore was a great regional headquarters for ICON was a great place for us to start. But we also entered Asia with pretty simple approach. And it’s the same approach, we’ve always approached healthcare within Australia, and healthcare is about relationships. And we needed to build really, really strong relationships with those clinicians in Singapore, to make them see that, yes, they wanted to be part of the ICON family, and that that journey with us had a long way to go. And it was also going to be very successful. But most of all, we could take all the great things that they had done, and make them better and enhanced patient care. And that’s what’s important. And we’ve taken that, that authentic relationship approach across all of our growth into China and other countries now such as,

Michael Murray  2:31  
Tell me about a career Crossroads moment for you becoming an executive? 

Mark Middleton  2:36  
Well, look, I think, career crossroads for a year, there’s been a few, it’s been a few career crossroads, I think, probably the biggest one is I had founded and run my own health care company. And with three business partners who were 20 years older than me. And there was a point where I needed a succession plan, that succession plan was really to bring my organization into what is now the icon group in November of 2014. So that really was a career crossroads, because you have something that you have built up and you’re really passionate about. But you know that you need a solution to move forward and also give the four partners what each of them wanted, for my three partners, the opportunity to be clinicians, and stop worrying about their mortgage, and for myself, to ensure that we could kick out all the great things that we’d established. But on a bigger platform and with more support and with more opportunity. consorts, 2020 best decision I have ever mind with the benefit of hindsight, but you know, it’s one of those ones. It’s a really challenging decision to make. And, but once you make it, it’s certainly worked out very, very well for me and I think for the entire organisation.

Michael Murray  3:54  
So coming into 2014. Did you have a commercial skillset that you needed to bring right up to par that you didn’t think you had at the time?

Mark Middleton  4:02  
Look, I had run my own business for, you know, almost 10 years by that point, and obviously, I owned that business as well. So I think my career pathway is quite unique and quite different in that I’m a radiation therapist by background. So my career pathway to be the CEO of ICON group now is quite different. But it’s also really meaningful and it’s really powerful. Because when you own your own business and you come up through the healthcare ranks, you develop what I call street smarts. And I think that’s certainly what I’ve carried over into my role as the group CEO of ICON. Now learn in a really, really big company, but still with the, you know, we’re still with the approach of keeping things reasonably simple. I always like to say this to people. We’re a really innovative progressive company, but we’re based on some pretty old fashioned valuation.

Michael Murray  4:58  
He made a very interesting point. About street smarts. And I asked this question to everyone who comes this table, that MBA versus real life experience?

Mark Middleton  5:08  
While fortunate, I’ve got both, you know, so yeah, look, real life experience is really, really important. I, I do like the fact that I’ve been in the frontline, I’ve treated patients over the years, you know, across Australia, North America, Europe, all of those things. So I think that is really, really meaningful to people. Is there a prerequisite? Absolutely not? is it part of my toolkit? Yes, it is. Did I then go and strengthen that and further empower myself with an MBA? Absolutely. And I think that, again, gives you a unique perspective on healthcare, and most of all, but the most important part of this is, regardless of your background, healthcare is about people.

Michael Murray   5:54  
If you had a 30-second elevator pitch to talk about your career legacy, how would you want to be remembered?

Mark Middleton  6:00  
Look, I want to be remembered for making an absolute difference to cancer care across Australia. Initially, if you look at what the icon group has done in regional Australia, we’ve been absolute pioneers in establishing radiotherapy, chemotherapy services in regional places. And that’s been a hallmark of my career. The next part of my career is to do the same in Asia, particularly in China. China, really, really needs a an elevation of the cancer care capability, and their execution. And I think what we have built in Australia has placed us uniquely to really deliver that in China. I’ve been traveling back and forth to China over the last two years building relationships, developed a real love of the country, and a real love of the people. And I want to make a difference there. And my people want to make a difference were passionate about and at the moment, the cancer care survival rate five years of our own in China is around 28%. In Australia, it’s 70%. Well, therein lies the challenge there in lies the gap. If we can improve access to World Class cancer care in China, that would be a legacy I would be very, very proud of.

Michael Murray   7:13  
Mark, thank you for spending time with C-Suite Partners in the boardroom.

Mark Middleton  7:15  
Thanks, Michael. Absolute pleasure. Thank you. Thank you.

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