Farewell from Carole Renouf, CEO of Melanoma Institute Australia
26 March 2018
I am retiring after just over two years in the role of CEO at MIA to join my only child overseas. The move was not foreseen at this time but it is just too hard to be a whole world away.
It is a great privilege to have an organisation placed in your care and to be responsible not only for its safekeeping but also for its enhancement and growth. I use the word ‘care’ deliberately because I think it’s fair to say that is something that has marked my style as a leader – I do care and I take the business of caring for an organisation and its staff, customers and stakeholders extremely seriously (many sleepless nights).
I really hope, as I wrap up over the month of April, that each of you can say you have experienced in some way my quality of care. ‘Quality of care’ are words you may more readily associate with our incredible MIA clinicians, nurses and clinical trials team – in other words, those who are patient-facing – but I would like to think that you might also consider those words in relation to me. I like looking after people and organisations.
Not everything has been attended to but a great, great many things have. The physician’s mantra is “Do no harm”. That is a good start also for a CEO. However, my aim is to leave an organisation better than I found it. A key supporter said to me the other day, “Please don’t let things go backwards now”, which tells me that people can see things have gone forwards, significantly and in the right direction – very reassuring!
There are a number of people I would like to thank who have enabled this.
When I started, I had a very clear vision of what MIA could become and what structures, processes, capabilities and resources would be needed to realise this vision. I worked to build a skilful and professional management team who would buy in to the vision and largely be responsible for bringing it to life. I am confident that this team will not let things go backwards and I will remain forever in their debt for walking so faithfully by my side.
I would like to thank our Board of Directors for also buying into the vision and supporting us to make it happen. Please rest assured the Board has the search for a new CEO well underway. I also thank the Conjoint Medical Directors for working collaboratively with me in a shared leadership model, not an easy task for anyone but the right approach for our organisation.
When you are not a clinician, it is a very difficult challenge to gain the respect of such talented people with such high standards. I believe I have been able to do this and I am very grateful for every moment of sparse time MIA clinicians and/or researchers have chosen to dedicate to me and my staff in order to progress change. Time is the most precious commodity they do not have and so the rarest of gifts they can bestow and when they do that for us, it is a sign of great trust.
Melanoma is a poorly-understood cancer in the community and hence, less well-supported than some other cancers. Trust me, I ran the National Breast Cancer Foundation, so I should know! It was therefore very important to me to learn about and understand the experience of people going through melanoma and its impact on their loved ones and friends. Probably the most meaningful aspect of my role has been meeting patients, their carers and those who have lost someone to melanoma. I wish I could have got out around the country and done more of it.
I don’t think anyone can understand, as the saying goes, until you at least try to “walk a mile in their shoes”, so I made it my business to sit in on clinics at the Poche Centre (obviously with both patient and doctor consent). I was pleased and touched to find that not only did people not mind my being there, but at times I could even help – if only by distracting patients as they were waiting! I have not forgotten any of the patients I sat in with in clinic and I quickly learnt there to what degree melanoma does not discriminate: they were young, old, rich, poor, blue collar, white collar, local, regional, frightened, stoic, and everything in between.
MIA is fortunate in having passionate community fundraisers and volunteers, all motivated by the impact of melanoma on their loved one and in some cases, the loss of that loved one. It has been so helpful to learn from these lay experts in melanoma and where I could, to assuage their pain by engaging them in activity with MIA.
Meeting those who have gone on to become consumer advocates has also been valuable, as it has helped me champion the importance of consumer representation as part of MIA’s governance structure and of consumer input into our research. I have faith that MIA will continue to advance with this: it is best practice and that is what MIA should and does stand for above all else.
My warmest thanks to all who support the Institute in any way – you are an integral part of any success we have. And we had so many of those in 2017, our 60th anniversary year! Our research is going from strength to strength. Now we need to identify why the new drugs don’t work for everybody and how to circumvent this – that’s the next frontier.
My next challenge on a personal level will be to down tools (in terms of paid work, for the first time ever) and improve my sun safety performance when bathed in the abundance of Andalucian sun. Thus far, I have managed to successfully tackle the impenetrable Spanish bureaucracy and win a residency visa against all odds. A friend is convinced I will wind up as an efficiency consultant to the Spanish Government! It will be a new chapter.
We know what Melanoma March means to our community, so when we had to cancel our physical events, we created Melanoma March Virtual so that everyone across Australia could still connect to honour loved ones and support each other.
A must-read personal account by Garry Maddox in The Sydney Morning Herald of how immunotherapy is revolutionising melanoma treatment.
On Friday, a publication that lays out the steps needed to find out if a systematic screening program for melanoma would benefit all Australians was published in the Australia & New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
Melanoma March events have been cancelled. A Virtual March will be held on Sunday 29th March. Read this statement from MIA CEO Matthew Browne.
Thank you to the thousands of Aussies who bought ‘Game On Mole‘ t-shirts, took selfies, shared t-shirt pics on social media and started lifesaving conversations around sun safety and skin health.
Melanoma patients now have greater access to subsidised immunotherapy thanks to additional treatments today being listed on the PBS.
Brisbane couple Leon and Tamra Betts were, like thousands of others around Australia, on the couch watching MAFS when newlywed Natasha ran through her weekly beauty routine. When they heard the 26-year-old mention solarium use, they were shocked, and then saddened, prompting this open letter to all young Australians.
Professor Richard Scolyer, Co-Medical Director of Melanoma Institute Australia, will welcome international attendees this weekend to a sold-out, two-day course on ‘Pigmented Lesions and Other Hot Topics in Dermatopathology’.
It is time for a reality check on solariums.
They have no place in anyone’s beauty routine.
Throughout January our community created, hosted and participated in some amazing events, each of them helping us on our quest to reach zero deaths from melanoma.
Australian television presenter, interior designer and mother Kyly Clarke has been announced as the new Ambassador for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and its national awareness and fundraising campaign Melanoma March.
Melanoma Institute Australia has recently partnered with three other organisations to boost support for melanoma patients and their carers across Australia.
Melanoma patients and their families across Western Australia will benefit from strengthened and expanded services with the merging of melanomaWA and Melanoma Institute Australia.
Australian researchers have played a critical role in the discovery of a potential new test to predict which early stage melanoma patients are at high risk of their disease recurring and progressing.
We are extremely grateful for our community fundraisers, who, even in this difficult time, have given up their time and effort to fundraise so we can continue to work towards our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.
Melanoma patients are set to benefit from subsidised access to immunotherapy treatment for high risk early-stage and advanced-stage melanoma patients.
An informative article on how immunotherapy is revolutionising cancer treatment, written by Jill Margo and featured in the Australian Financial Review.
Melanoma patients and their families in the Riverina will benefit from strengthened and sustained melanoma services with the merger of the Amie St Clair Melanoma Trust and Melanoma Institute Australia.
Belmont High School at Lake Macquarie has been announced winner of the 2019 SunSafe Student Ambassador Program video competition.
It’s time again to say thank you to our amazing community fundraisers!