Family connections shine through for Medibank CEO

Outgoing Medibank Private Limited Chief Executive Officer Craig Drummond may have been mentored by some of the best in the business, but he says his mother and father had the biggest impact on his career.

Speaking at the QUT Business Leader’s Forum (BLF) today, Mr Drummond, who will leave Medibank in June 2021, said he owed much of his success to the hard work of his mother and father, who sacrificed much in their lives so he and his brother could enjoy a private school education.

“They were humble people with a passion for education and I feel the roots of our success were firmly planted between the ages of zero and 15 years of age,” Mr Drummond said at the first BLF event for the year.

Mr Drummond who has led Medibank’s transformation from a private health insurer to healthcare company since 2016 said providing great leadership was all about leading with empathy and understanding.

“I lead with a concern for people – our customers, our staff, our board members so my career has been spent listening to people and deciding what’s right and what’s not right.”

Mr Drummond, who says he hates the concept of an office and a hierarchy, said good leadership was about not being a “dickhead”.

“And I think this really cuts across life in general – it doesn’t matter who you’re talking to or what you’re doing – across sport and not-for-profit organisations. It’s about being straight-talking and direct.”

He also spoke about the importance of equity in the workforce (at Medibank 51 per cent of the executive are female) and said leaders needed to consider the culture they were trying to create.

“You’re not trying to pick stars out of the people you work with, you’re trying to build a team that works together, collaborates with each other and doesn’t work in silos. Stars find it challenging to work in a collaborative environment with others because they are always trying to build up their own star. At Medibank, building a strong team dynamic was always all important.”

As for the future of the healthcare industry, Mr Drummond said two per cent of Medibank’s policyholders accounted for 33 per cent of total net claims of $2.8 billion in the six months to December 31.

“We have people in our community who are chronically ill and are obese. This two per cent of the population is clogging up our hospitals, they are going to accident and emergency up to seven times a year. They are using up resources that can’t be used in other areas such as elective surgery.

“We are at a critical point in Australia where we can either just keep treating chronic disease or we can choose another path by investing in early intervention and prevention of chronic diseases.”

He said while the quality of Australia’s healthcare system was a great mix of private and public healthcare, it needed to deal with chronically ill people more effectively, through providing preventative healthcare, short stay programs, clinical homecare, and access to virtual care such as telehealth.

He also advocates ensuring those in aged care environments have access to healthcare within their centres rather than needing to use the hospital system.

Australian journalist and QUT alumnus Ellen Fanning was moderator for the event.

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