Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jan-Feb 2017 Contents Cynthia Payne
Tell us about your background
MY FIRST full-time role was as a
clinical nurse specialist in 1990.
My first boss, Michael O’Connor,
still works in the industr y for
Uniting and I’ll be forever grateful
that he was prepared to back me
when it was not usual to have a
junior taking up such a senior role.
I’m also grateful to another
mentor Sue Macri who gave me the opportunity to work in a
policy and research role for what is now LASA.
At age 33 I was appointed SummitCare CEO where I have
continued to work with owner Peter Wohl (and now our
board) for the past 14 years.
It’s remarkable that I remain the only female CEO of a
private sector organisation of our size (revenue $90 million)
although I salute some outstanding female CEOs of larger
organisations within not-for-profit aged care.
If you could achieve one thing as CEO this year,
what would it be?
We are in the middle of refreshing our strategic plan with
a five to 10-year horizon. It will be wonderful to have the
plan signed off by Februar y 2017 before we commence
commissioning our new 186 room mixed use development in
Baulkham Hills, which is set to open in August.
What are the big opportunities you see for your
organisation and the sector, and how are you
positioning to capitalise on them?
Enablement and health promotion is an area of great
opportunity. We want to ensure our new development
becomes a community hub for the Hills District with day
ser vices, enablement and palliation ser vices. Our industr y is
well placed to reimagine new ser vices to help seniors prevent
the long-term impacts of non-communicable diseases in a way
that can also add economic value to the health system.
What are the top challenges facing your organisation
and how are you responding?
Addressing the repositioning of older assets, particularly as
we have always had a strong focus in providing ser vices to
disadvantaged older people (65 per cent of our consumers are
‘Stay connected to
talks about the
and leadership in
supported or fully supported). Recent
government policy changes have made
our need to adapt quite challenging,
including the removal of the payroll
tax supplement (which for us was
nearly $3 million in support removed)
and we conser vatively expect a further
$2.4 million revenue loss due to ACFI
changes while we are tr ying to enable
fair pay for our staff. On the positive
we are well positioned for growth with
our home care ser vice and we look
forward to Februar y 2017.
What keeps you awake at night?
I sleep well on account of the fact I
work with a great team of managers
and staff. Our culture, the quality
of the work and the feedback from
consumers and families keeps me
motivated. We just celebrated
our 12th annual staff recognition
events in conjunction with our 50th
birthday. The feeling in the room was
one of a huge extended family; it filled me with pride. It would
be wrong not to mention that in 2016 year we had a high profile
criminal matter in the courts and an ex-employee was found
guilty of two counts of murder and one count of attempted
murder. My focus throughout the three-year period was a
commitment to ensuring our residents, families and staff and
managers were well supported. I am pleased to say we have come
though this ordeal intact and move into 2017 with enthusiasm.
How do you deal with stress and a heavy workload?
This year I graduated with my level 2 yoga teaching
qualification. I offer a free yoga class to my colleagues each
week so they can share the benefits I have yielded from
applying the entire Ashtanga approach to my work and
life. For my direct reports I use one-on-one sessions each
fortnight, where we cover off anything that may be affecting
the organisations or individual performance. I advocate using
Hogan assessments and TMS profiles to build insights into to
‘self ’ particularly the impacts and risk of dark sides which can
lead to career derailing decisions.
What’s the best advice you’ve received that’s helped in
your role as an aged care CEO?
Stay connected to what’s important, be prepared to be flexible
and not overly attach to plans or strategies as sometimes they
need to change. And treat ever yone as you would your mother.
What qualities make a standout aged care leader?
Individuals who ultimately care about the lives of consumers
and their families and are prepared to focus their energies in
a way that gets the best out of themselves (personally and
professionally) and those they lead. I want them to grow other
leaders who have stamina and will lead with honesty, integrity
and humility. A good sense of humour is always appreciated! n
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