Interview with Cathie Keogh, NOW President

What is your Role on the NOW Board?

I have been a member of the NOW Board for several years and was recently elected as President for FY17.

What is your experience/career path outside of NOW?

I started my working life as a chartered accountant, gaining experience both in Australia and overseas. In my early years I worked in a global chartered accounting practice, but then moved into the commercial world where I worked in a wide range of finance and accounting roles. Towards the end of my career, I took the plunge and moved to Legal & Corporate Affairs. 2012 saw me retire – at that time I was a director of a large Australian public company. My retirement didn't last long, because I then became involved with NOW.

How long have you been volunteering with NOW?

Back in 2013, I was enticed out of retirement to work casually for NOW as Accountant. This just wet my whistle and the following year I retired as Accountant before standing for a Board position. Since then I have curtailed my volunteering at other organisations, so that I can concentrate on NOW.

Why did you chose to be a voluntary board member?

I consider myself very fortunate to have been in a position to retire in my mid 50's. As a trade-off, I held a strong conviction that I should make myself useful in the local community by using the business skills and expertise that I had acquired.

What attracted you to NOW?

One of my neighbours who was on the NOW Board first introduced me to NOW. But the real draw card was that I felt I could make a difference with the experience that I had.

What are your responsibilities?

Being President generally means facilitating board leadership and good governance. This includes complying with legal responsibilities, chairing board meetings, ensuring vigorous discussion of recommendations put to the board, assessing the performance of board members and the CEO and representing NOW in the community. Our CEO and I meet regularly and work closely together so that the board and CEO can collaboratively drive NOW’s mission forward.

Recently I have been a member of the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement team that has just finished negotiating a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement for our Registered Nurses; this was a particularly rewarding experience for me personally.

What do you hope to achieve with your membership to the board of Nurses On Wheels?

I hope that the skills that I bring to the board complement those of other board members so that the decisions we make are well considered and the best decisions possible. We have some robust discussions at our meetings. To me that shows what a good team we are.

What motivates you?

My motivation is to give back to the local community that helped me grow into the person that I am. I care for my frail aged parents and I love to see organisations like NOW thrive so that they are able to continue to help families like mine. Independence and the ability to stay in your own home for as long as possible are rights that we should all be able to enjoy and are well worth the investment of my time.

How do you see NOW growing in the next few years?

The last couple of years have been tough ones financially for NOW. But I believe that we are positioning ourselves well to serve more clients and expand our services during the next few years. We have top quality nurses who provide top quality care. Our CEO is highly qualified and experienced, leading NOW into a future where we cannot rely on government funding and we have to compete with bigger organisations. She has restructured our administrative and support functions so that NOW is focused on growing its business in this tough and rapidly changing healthcare industry.

What is your vision for Nurses on Wheels?

My vision is for NOW to grow and remain relevant so that it can support generation after generation with high quality care. Our staff, management and board contributed to NOW’s current strategic plan which sets out the steps we plan to take during the next 3 years. Pivotal to this plan is the focus on increasing our revenue from sources other than government grants. 

Who inspires you and why?

I am inspired more by an ideal than by a person. A smile costs nothing but it can make a world of difference to the people you see during the day. And it always feels good when people smile back.

Who are you outside of work hours?

Where do the hours go? I care for my aged parents, check Facebook every couple of hours, read (fiction), catch up with friends and am always planning my next holiday. It gives me a lot of pleasure to see animals in the wild. I have stepped on all 7 continents, been sniffed by a polar bear, played with baby cheetahs, tickled the foot of a baby alligator, cuddled 1 year old giant pandas and the list goes on. When people ask me why I don't just go to a zoo, I say that I like to visit animals at their place, not mine. I know that I am very privileged to be able to travel so much and learn about other peoples, cultures, and beliefs as well as seeing the wonders of our world.