Zoe Wainer - Medical Director & Head of Public Health Bupa
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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 0:50
Zoe, thank you for joining C suite Partners In the Boardroom.
Zoe Wainer 0:53
It’s a pleasure. Thank you for inviting me
Michael Murray 0:55
can you start by just telling us the past 10 years of your career and where you’re at today?
Zoe Wainer 1:00
Sure. So if I went 10 years ago, I was actually training to be a cardiothoracic surgeon and undertaking a PhD in lung cancer and I made a decision during that process that I actually was much more interested in how I could contribute to building the healthcare system, not just that one on one clinical interaction, but how could actually contribute positively to the whole healthcare system in Australia. So I chose to leave cardiothoracic surgery and I went into work as Deputy Director of medical services at Pete McCallum Cancer Center. And took that role for a couple of years. And during that period of time, I had the opportunity to hear from Stewart Fletcher, who was then the global CEO for Bupa. At the World Cancer Leaders Forum. I was quite inspired by the vision he had about how his company would contribute to healthcare and the globe. And so I approached him and had a bit of a chat to him. And he introduced me to Dwayne Crombie who’s the managing director in Australia of Bupa. And so I actually ended up having an opportunity to work at Bupa and I’m now head of public health. So my role is a health system role. It’s how do we envisage the health system of the future, both public and private
Michael Murray 2:09
Why is healthcare unique compared to finance, professional services, people you know, sometimes put healthcare, you know, just in the same box. Do you do believe it is truly unique and why is that?
Zoe Wainer 2:23
I think it’s currently unique. I would question whether that’s a good thing. Okay. I think there are. So I’ve undertaken some work at Harvard have undertaken a course at Harvard Business School around value-based healthcare run by Michael Porter and Elizabeth Tiesburg and they challenge that concept and actually say one of the challenges we have in healthcare is it hasn’t learned very much from business in the last 200 years. And rather than being strategically designed to deliver the outcomes that patients want, we’ve evolved responding to the immediate need without necessarily the long term vision of how we could improve these health outcomes.
Michael Murray 2:57
What about mentors?
Zoe Wainer 2:58
I’ve got heaps of them. And I’ve always had lots of mentors. I don’t I’ve been a big believer in one isn’t enough, because I have different mentors for different skill sets. And and I don’t think it’s fair to ask one person to do all that. And I move in and out of those relationships, depending on the skill sets, or the area of transition, or what I what I’m deciding or seeking mentorship for. So I mentors ranged from professors of public health through the ex-vice presidents of Mobil Oil globally, okay. And the engagement with them has been crucial in making the decisions around what’s the next step, when do I need to think about that? How do I think about skills gaps? You know, and how do I manage difficult situations?
Michael Murray 3:40
Really interesting what you said there, and I’d like to press on it a little bit. Having mentors outside of healthcare, whether it’s oil and gas, mining, banking, professional services, how do they advise you compared to people within healthcare? Is there a major difference? Or do you find it relatively the same?
Zoe Wainer 3:57
I think there is a difference when you look at clinical mentors versus business mentors. Of course, the actual sector is different. And so some of the drivers are different, but human beings are human beings and we organise no matter where we are in pretty similar fashions. And I think there’s probably opportunities for, for example, health to learn from oil and gas, but vice versa. And I think oil and gas have some incredible safety processes that that could have a lot. We obviously often look to the airline industry and healthcare, around quality and safety. But interestingly, I was having this conversation the other day with someone where they said, Oh, well, the parallel for quality and safety and health care is the airline industry. Well, that’s only if you’re preventing the plane going down. It’s what they’re talking about. And I think one of the transitions we need to make in healthcare is to stop thinking about quality and safety as the absence of negative outcomes. So you had an operation and you didn’t get an infection that’s good quality, and start to think about actually what health outcome How did you want to improve your health outcome as a consequence or that procedure, and that actually goes much more to how business thinks about its customers. And that’s day to day business, or day to day customer experience in most businesses, and healthcare hasn’t gotten there yet.
Michael Murray 5:12
That’s very true. So I’m very interested in your thoughts on women in leadership, and how healthcare is actually dealing with at the moment.
Zoe Wainer 5:20
So I mean, I think healthcare is making some great strides, we have some fantastic female leaders. But I think it’s really important for us to stay mindful of some of the dynamics we know around gender in the workforce, we know that women tend to apply for jobs that are below their capability and that men tend to apply for those potentially above their capability. And this, of course, affects pay grades and superannuation and all the other issues that we see that are very topical in the media. So my understanding of Google and the machine learning that it uses to target ads is that if it understands that user is female, it will actually throw up ads that are below the paygrade that she would need. And if it understands that the user is male, it will actually throw up jobs above the pay grade that is able to understand from the search histories.
Michael Murray 6:07
It’s very, very interesting. And do you think the healthcare market is providing enough opportunities for females in leadership?
Zoe Wainer 6:16
I think we can always provide more and I think it’s really important to be mindful of the biases that we have in in looking for leaders and looking for executives. We’ve got to be mindful of exactly the pavers that women do as well. So we need the leaders in healthcare to be tapping women on the shoulder when they see bright, intelligent, capable young women to ensure that we start to address those biases.
Michael Murray 6:40
And what about your career in one word?
Zoe Wainer 6:42
Michael Murray 6:43
Excellent. We’ll end it there. Zoe, thank you very much for spending time with C-Suite Partners In the Boardroom.