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7 Questions with Dominique Powis
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7 Questions with Dominique Powis
Name: Dominique Powis
Current title: Chief Technology Officer
Current organization: MedicalDirector
Throughout my career I have always been heavily involved in driving the innovative strategy of technology companies effectively and efficiently ensuring the business runs at its most optimal level – I live and breathe tech. Whether I am playing with technology to improve the lives of my family and friends – or just out of pure curiosity – or perhaps understanding how a technology can be applied to be a commercially beneficial project within my organisation, it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
I have a background in Software Development, and had my own website business as a teenager in the 90s. The majority of the last decade has been in the MedTech space which I love - I have worked for Cochlear, Corin and I'm currently CTO of MedicalDirector where I lead a team of 50 people both onshore and offshore to enable Ideal Healthcare for over 50% of the GP market in Australia.
I am a strong advocate of women in MedTech and women in leadership positions, supporting employees in how to support and become an ally of women (and mothers) in the workplace. Over the years have participated (and still do!) in mentorship programs with several organisations including UNSW.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Most challenging but most rewarding is the people.. but hear me out.. I'm not saying that people are challenging.. I love the people I work with and the team I am a part of and I thrive on their development, their success, their journey. My CEO has a fantastic saying - Individuals can do great things, but People change the world
I want to set them up for success as a team and watch them grow as individuals. As we know, every colleague is different. Different things get them out of bed every morning, different motivations, environmental situations, challenges and capabilities. To understand your team takes energy, collaboration, social endurance, emotion, empathy, time... sometimes you'll get it right and sometimes you won't, so you need perseverance, positivity, resilience and grit.
However individuals are part of the greater team, so you need to ensure you're balancing your time effectively across your team, and balancing their growth and celebrating their successes with their colleagues - a delicate balance indeed.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
It has definitely been a journey. I have always been involved in small to medium sized companies - I love understanding all aspects of a business with a focus on the technology and strategy side.
When I was offered a role at Corin, it was their first software/technology management hire and from there I was in a unique position to set the technology strategy - my first presentation to my CEO I pitched a connected care ecosystem, saying "We are an orthopaedics company, dabbling in software.. I'm going to turn us into a technology company that specialises in orthopaedics"... And the journey began.
Four years later, I had been involved in two acquisitions, the launch of the connected care Ecosystem capturing 20,000 surgeries and hosting the largest library of CT and X-Rays for patient specific instrumentation and analysis, and I assisted in the growth of the business from 30 people in Australia, 300-odd globally through to 150 in Australia and over 500 internationally and a solid focus on software and technology management globally.
Mission accomplished, I left the position of Director of Digital Information and I set out for my next challenge and that's where I found myself as Chief Technology Officer at MedicalDirector.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I'm an early riser, so I'll often be up between 5am and 6am, getting any quick emails or to-dos out of the way that have come in overnight. I spend time with my husband and our beautiful 3 year old and help him get ready for daycare. If there's room for a workout during the day, I make sure that's scheduled in my calendar - at the very least, a walk or time-out is important to maintain mental health, as my days are often quite jam packed and require my social endurance and attention.
I'm usually in front of the computer by 7:30-8am and my day is made up of meetings around team one on ones, project progress/updates, leadership check-ins and strategy, providing direction and troubleshooting where required, identifying opportunities and gaps in the organization and meeting/aligning with third parties that we have a relationship with and future relationships.
I often reserve the time between 5pm and 7pm to spend with my son again - these years are so important to both him and myself and I want to treasure them. Of course there will always be the occasional urgent meeting, but I try to preserve this time as much as I can. Sometimes he will come into my office with his toy laptop and join me "doing work".
After he has gone to bed, my husband and I will catch up over dinner and I will often jump back online to tidy up tasks and emails before winding down with a movie, book or shower/bath.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Leadership isn't about standing up in front saying "This is what we're going to do, and this is how we're going to do it". It's about carefully selecting the right team, the right vision, the right culture and then supporting and collaborating those teams throughout the journey to achieve that vision, without compromising on your culture and values. You won't have all the answers, and if you do, you've hired the wrong people.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg. My husband gave me this book to read when we went on our babymoon - I was 6 month pregnant and nervous about how my new role as a mother would impact my drive and ambition in my professional career. This book helped open my eyes about balancing both important roles, and how inclusion and representation as a professional and a mother was so important to demonstrate to companies and teams. I was often quite a private person when it came to leadership, but this book made me realise that in opening up about balancing both roles, I could help those around me realise that there should never be a choice around career or family.. With the right business, you can do both, and do both well. This book helped me become a more compassionate and open leader, and more visible as a mother.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Without a doubt, leading by example and setting people up for success. Recognise the attributes and culture you want the company to propagate and then live and breathe those attributes. Positive and authentic leadership is charismatic and contagious, and in walking the walk, you will encourage and inspire those around you to do the same.
Recognise the capability in your team and those around you, and set them up for success - people will be more engaged and more successful in their role, if they do what they love and love what they do.
These take time, but once the momentum has started, it's hard to stop - never lose sight of the opportunity you can create.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
In 2016 I saw a huge amount of talent in our Australian business that I felt we needed to foster and encourage. I kickstarted a Cor Innovate initiative where, over the course of 3 months, employees could embark upon their own innovative project that would help benefit the company's economy in some way. At the end of the three months, they would present back to the company (including the CEO) and the winner would be given the opportunity to productionise their project and work with subject matter experts to do so. I wanted to make this an annual event, and even ran it whilst I was on maternity leave because I was so invested in the team's success. In 2019 we were able to gain some international participants and have had winners that that saved the company huge amounts of time and money in efficiency gains and product enhancements. Whilst I left Corin in 2020, I know that they have continued the tradition, and it's now being run out of HQ in the UK.