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Aged-Care CEO Rises Above Adversity


Monday, 20th January 2014 at 9:26 am
Staff Reporter, Journalist
Living by the saying “Let’s knock it on the head”, Chief Executive Officer, leadership and management coach, and ontological practitioner Dr Nicky Howe leads a Western Australian Not for Profit that delivers aged-care services. Dr Howe is this week’s Changemaker.

Monday, 20th January 2014
at 9:26 am
Staff Reporter, Journalist


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Aged-Care CEO Rises Above Adversity
Monday, 20th January 2014 at 9:26 am

Living by the saying “Let’s knock it on the head”, Chief Executive Officer, leadership and management coach, and ontological practitioner Dr Nicky Howe leads a Western Australian Not for Profit that delivers aged-care services. Dr Howe is this week’s Changemaker.

Dr Howe’s career includes more than 25 years of senior management experience working in government and Not for Profit sectors in the areas of employment, education, welfare, health, aged care and community services.

Starting her university education at 31 years old, Dr Howe gained the university qualifications of Doctor of Business Administration, Post Graduate in Public Sector Management and BA in Public Administration.

She also holds a Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Ontological Coaching, is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors Diploma and is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Business at The University of Notre Dame.

Recently she wrote the book Building Better Relationships with those You Lead.

Dr Howe now leads Southcare Inc, a Not for Profit organisation based in the Perth suburb of Manning. Southcare has a team of 80 employees and more than 95 volunteers who provide Government sponsored aged care and family support programs.

As part of her role with Southcare Inc, Dr Howe has worked on creating an employment program that aims to provide quality aged care and employment opportunities for the young.

For her effort she was a finalist for the Westpac Community Leaders Awards 2013 in the Established Not for Profit Executive category.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

When you have been able to facilitate the development of a person, project/service. When you have been able to touch the soul of another and through this they are able to achieve something they never thought they could do or be, when someone’s life is changes for the better.  

What has been the most challenging part of your work?

I have managed hundreds of people in a variety of settings. I think the first Commonwealth Employment Service Office (back in 1994) I managed was the most significant and difficult.

I was unable to build a strong team, and I learnt some really hard lessons about establishing credibility and the use and abuse of power.

I learnt you can’t manage it all by yourself, I learnt to be tough, how to develop and use negotiation skills, how to confront and act on subordinate performance problems and how to deal with problematic relationships (headquarters, bosses, unions, government, media and politicians).

I think I overcame it all by putting myself forward as a lifelong learner (education, training, mentors, coaching, reading, seeking and acting on feedback etc) and being prepared to change and keep practicing.

To overcome “it” (whatever that is at the time) I must be the one to change.

I have learnt to trust my instincts, to take a stand for what I believe in and to accept responsibility for the consequences of my actions.  I am still learning and changing.   

What do you like best about working in your current organisation?

Being in the privileged position of CEO you are able to create and build the type of organisation that you had previously “wished” for.

I like being able to create and enact a vision. Each day I am able to work with people to build productive working relationships so that we can serve our community (both our internal community of staff and volunteers and our external community).  

I love being part of these communities and I work hard to continually build the reputation and value that we can bring to people in our community.

I consider my greatest achievement to be…

My family. I have two sons Dirk and Tom. I feel a great sense of achievement at bringing up my sons by myself (in 1996 my husband left me and this had a special significance on me, as I was left emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially with two boys, aged five and seven years. My ex-husband still does not see his sons).

They are now young professional men (one a Software Engineer and one an Electrical Power Engineer).

My education (I started my university education when I was 31), my leadership as a CEO and being an author (I have just written my first book). My husband Vasilli and the relationship we have and my family and friends.

Favourite saying…

“Let’s knock it on the head” – (this stems from me liking to take action to get things done)…

What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment?

I am reading Coaching to the Human Soul – Volume III – Ontological Coaching and Deep Change by Alan Sieler.

This book provides a detailed articulation of how all learning and change occurs in the nervous systems which is throughout our body and involves more than our brains and how we can “shift’ our body to shift our thinking and emotions – it is a really powerful approach and I am really enjoying the learning journey.

The reason I am reading this is I am doing the Advanced Somatic Learning and Ontological Coaching Course and this is part of the program.

As an ontological coach this will help me to skilfully and respectfully facilitates somatic shifts for people that contributes to deep positive change for them.

Through your work, what is your ultimate dream?  

To see government, corporations and community organisations working together (despite business and social sector organisation differences) so we align common interests to benefit the common good of our nation.

My dream is for Australia to be seen as the “good life[i]”, where we choose to restrain and restrict ourselves as a way of being balanced, where we treat all people ( from all cultures including our own first peoples) in a respectful way by listening to them, we are mindful in our thoughts and actions, we apologise sincerely, forgive generously and make people laugh … and fundamental to this is we each have our basic needs met.

Where do you feel your passion for good came from?

I think my passion comes from a range of sources.

My parents have both always worked full time and I started working on Saturdays and school holidays with my father (who was a builder) from the age of 10 years.

I was taught that if I wanted anything in this world I would need to work for it and I needed to give back.

I grew up in a low socio-economic area (Kwinana) not that I really realised that at the time…I did the Duke of Edinburgh Program and part of this was community service which I loved.

As a young nurse I liked looking after people and I liked helping people. In the Commonwealth Employment Service there was nothing more rewarding that helping someone get a job.

My passion for “good” comes from a deep desire to have a fair and just civil society.


[i] Hugh Mackay


Staff Reporter  |  Journalist |  @ProBonoNews


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