Working to Give Access to All
8 September 2014 at 11:20 am
As the Chief Executive Officer of a disability services organisation in Melbourne’s West, Rohan Braddy is often tackling many issues at one time, but this has not stopped him or his Not for Profit organisation from winning awards both inside and outside of the sector. Braddy is this week’s Changemaker.
Braddy has been the CEO of Mambourin Enterprises since 2002.
Mambourin is a disability services organisation providing respite, day and employment services at eight sites across western Melbourne.
The organisation was recently awarded the 2014 Australian Disability Enterprises Excellence Award from the Commonwealth Department of Social Services and the Not-For-Profit Business of the Year at the Wyndham Business Excellence Awards.
Braddy has been a National Disability Services Board member for more than three years. He is a member of the Board’s Risk and Audit Committee, and has been a member of the National ADE Committee since 2008, the NDS Victoria ADE Advisory Group since 2004 (Chair since 2010), the NDS Victoria Committee since 2007, and is a member of the new National Disability Practitioners Committee.
Braddy is an inaugural Fellow of Disability Professionals Victoria, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, and a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is also a Harvard Fellow and has recently been awarded a full scholarship from the Australian Scholarships Foundation to undertake an MBA.
Braddy says he believes passionately in a system of universal access to disability services, recognised as a human right.
To this end, he says he is determined to do everything in his power to see the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) become the great success story of public policy of our generation.
Braddy says he is acutely aware of the significant challenges facing the sector including rapidly changing service models as heralded with the commencement of the NDIS, ever increasing demands on services, increasing complexity of client need, increasing levels of unmet demand, changing business requirements and pressures and increased compliance responsibilities.
He says relishes the opportunity to work together with others to negotiate the complex strategic environment and the challenging change processes towards a successful NDIS.
What are you currently working on in your organisation?
Just like everyone else, it’s difficult to not get caught up with the minutiae associated with running a large and complex business. However, I try to remain focussed on the “big picture” and, in this sense, these are the four main areas we’re working on:
1. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
This is numero uno for very good reason. As the most ambitious social reform of our generation, it is enormously exciting to be a part of, as it has the potential to deliver very real, and very substantial, changes to the way people with disabilities are supported.
But if we do not plan well, because the changes it heralds are so massive, it has the potential to derail an organisation like ours.
Virtually every aspect of our business requires close scrutiny and careful re-engineering to prepare well for the full roll-out of the NDIS.
2. Strategic planning/execution.
Clearly the NDIS plays a very important part in this, but not exclusively so.
There are so many changes going on in our sector at both state and commonwealth levels, together with threats and opportunities more broadly such as the economy more generally, shifting societal attitudes to charities, volunteering and the like, and the changing face of workforce and the issues and challenges that we face in this space, that if we are not careful to be strategic in all of our decision-making, the risks are great.
3. Growing our software business and meeting the requirements of our existing customers.
Mambourin has developed a suite of software called Mambourin Enterprise Resource Planning (MERP) which we have sold to a number of disability providers in several states. MERP has delivered massive improvements in our business and our customers consistently report great outcomes with it.
We are working hard to take this part of our business to the next level.
4. Further developing our governance capability.
Mambourin’s governance structures are excellent in many areas, but there is always room for improvement. For example, we have been working for many months on migrating to a company limited by guarantee (from an incorporated association) because we believe that this is a better structure for our business going forward.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work is seeing the great outcomes that we are achieving for our participants.
Through MERP’s patented Reflections Window®, we are able to track participants’ progress towards their goals on a daily basis in a unique way.
This, combined with a focus over many years on highly individualised, person-centred and strength based approaches in the development of services and supports, has led to outcomes for participants previously not even dreamt about.
For example, we have recently been watching the progress of one participant who has learned to negotiate public transport and, through MERP, we have tailored his support to include trains as well as the bus service. But regular review of progress towards achieving his goals highlighted a problem—progress had halted suddenly and actually regressed. Investigation revealed that the participant had attempted to cross a busy road over the weekend (which was a newly developed skill and therefore fantastic that he was willing to try) but he had had a bad fright and that had sapped his confidence.
Without MERP tracking his progress on a daily basis, it might have been weeks or months before such a regression was noticed in a paper-and-file system, if at all.
What has been the most challenging part of your work? And how do you overcome that?
The most challenging part of my work is time management. There simply is not enough time in any given day to do everything that I would like to do.
Somewhat paradoxically, this is exacerbated by having a very high performing team, because rather than as happens when direct reports are reliant on their leader for direction such that everything happens at the leader’s pace, I am forever putting my skates on to keep up with initiatives and proposed innovations from a range of highly talented people.
I overcome this in a number of ways. I subscribe to the motto “only do what only you can do.”
So, if there is a person who is better qualified, or better placed, or better informed, to make a decision, I am comfortable with a succinct briefing if necessary and then getting out of the way and leaving them to do their job.
I don’t like to be micro-managed so I try not to do that to others. I delegate work that it is not essential that I do personally as much as possible, although I do try to delegate some good stuff regularly because no-one likes being a dumping ground for all the rubbish jobs all the time.
I also use technology to assist me wherever possible.
Will an email/phone call suffice or do we need to meet? Can I do two things at once like calling from the car while travelling to another meeting? Can I organise my day better with the use of features in Outlook like ‘for follow up flags’ and task reminders?
Finally, I have to find the mental discipline to let some things go completely that in an ideal world I would like to have done.
I consider my greatest achievement to be …
This answer has to be divided into two parts.
Personally, my greatest achievement was getting my wife to say yes, and my three amazing sons, with the older two already demonstrating exemplary values of which I am very proud.
Professionally, I am enormously pleased with the fine organisation that Mambourin has become since I took on the CEO role in 2002.
Whilst I acknowledge that it isn’t necessarily “my” greatest achievement because it has been the work of many wonderful people, to lead an organisation to become one of the largest and most respected disability service organisations in the state from one that was unlikely to survive when I took over has been extremely rewarding.
Favourite saying …
You mean I have to pick one? I am the Master of sayings!
“Character is doing the right thing even when nobody’s looking.”
“I love it when a plan comes together.”
“Hope is not a strategy.”
“What doesn’t kills us makes us stronger.”
I could go on!
Through your work, what is your ultimate dream?
My ultimate goal is to put myself out of work! I envision a society where specialist disability supports are not necessary.
In this society, ‘mainstream’ services and systems such as medical and dental, transport, education and housing are welcoming and inclusive of every citizen including those with disabilities, and the community more generally is willing and able to provide the informal supports requisite for a person with a disability to live an ordinary life.
What does a typical day for you involve?
My days vary a lot depending on what I am scheduled to do that day, for example if I am travelling interstate for an NDS Board meeting then my day is very different to an ‘office day’.
But often it starts somewhere around five am, reading and responding to emails that have come in overnight, often from colleagues overseas in my network.
Family duties and/or a bike ride follow and I’m in the car by 7.30am.
I have a 45 minute drive to work and I usually use this time as productively as possible ringing either colleagues within Mambourin or returning calls from the previous day.
Once in the office, I spend time with colleagues either in formal or informal meetings, ensuring that I am well across their key areas of focus and that I am providing clear direction as required.
Lots of reading, usually online and on-screen, and many more emails are dealt with over the course of the day.
By 6pm, I am on the road home, usually making a number of phone calls from the car as I go.
Family time including getting a 10 month old boy to bed is my focus until around 8pm, at which time I usually am back on my laptop for another two to three hours’ work.
Where do you feel your passion for good came from?
I draw my passion and inspiration from a range of sources.
My parents instilled in my brothers and me a sense of “if you can’t say/do something positive, say/do nothing at all”.
I never cease to be inspired by the people we support, constantly facing and overcoming challenges.
I am further driven by working with an incredible band of colleagues who are entirely focussed on creating great outcomes for the people we support.
Last, but by no means least, my family motivates me. My wife is my Rock of Gibraltar, and one of my sons only has to say “I’m proud of the work you do dad” to motivate me to do more, and do it better.