“My advice to myself then, or indeed to anyone, is to be brave and to embrace career opportunities as they arise without fearing the unknown.” QA Anne O’Connor, Managing Director at VHI Health and Wellbeing Ireland

Anne O’Connor, Managing Director at VHI Health and Wellbeing Ireland

Please tell us a little about yourself and your role as Managing Director at Vhi Health & Wellbeing?

As MD of Vhi Health & Wellbeing, I am responsible for developing and delivering Vhi health & wellbeing services to our 1.2m members. I am leading out the growth of our clinical services to support this ambition, including our Vhi Urgent Care, Hospital at Home, Midwife Support Service, Women’s Health Clinic, Positive Mind Programme, Sports, Exercise and Musculoskeletal Clinic and Paediatric Services.

Vhi has undergone and is continuing to undergo a lot of change. Can you please share with us how you are currently leading change within your department and within the organisation?

Vhi is undergoing a transformation to enable it be future ready and ensure we can continue to meet the growing healthcare needs of our members. Our aim is to maintain our position as the leading health insurance company while continuing to grow as a major healthcare provider.

Our focus is on developing a system of healthcare that not only supports people in sickness but in health, delivering proactive, preventative and integrated care at the right time, in the right place and appropriate to our customers healthcare needs.

I am delighted to be part of the team implementing this vision and in my role as MD, have the privilege of leading highly qualified and committed healthcare professionals. My priority in this role is to support my team to deliver on our agreed priorities.

Working within a Group construct requires a collaborative approach and so I seek to work in an open and transparent way, drawing on the expertise of others and communicating with internal and external stakeholders.

Diversity, equality and inclusion are extremely important to the success of every organisation. Can you please share with us what strategies VHI Health Ireland implements to support and promote its DEI strategy?

Vhi’s core purpose is to help our customers live longer, stronger, healthier lives. This purpose drives our strategy, our culture and our values and at its heart is our people.

We know that an inclusive work culture, where people are welcomed, respected and supported in their endeavours results in higher levels of employee engagement, a stronger brand, greater levels of collaboration and innovation and ultimately brings us closer to this purpose.

We have three Diversity & Inclusion Networks at Vhi – PRIDE, Women’s Network and Multicultural Network – and these together create extensive programmes to raise awareness and understanding of what it means to be an inclusive organisation and of the benefits that inclusivity can bring to Vhi.

What are the benefits of having more women in leadership?

Having more women in leadership enables an organisation at many levels – from problem solving, to collaboration and engagement – to ultimately progress a company’s strategy and purpose. At Vhi we are investing in our female talent, accelerating their career so they may become the leaders we need now and in the future.

We are building networks and forging high yield connections within our female workforce and we are removing obstacles to progression that exist throughout the organisation with programmes that cultivate new consistent management behaviours in both male and female colleagues.

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

I have been exceptionally lucky in my career, as it has evolved in directions the 25 year old me could not have realised.

At 25 I was returning to the UK (where I had trained and worked as an Occupational Therapist) from 18 months of travel. At that time I was returning to take up a temporary OT manager role in the belief that I would remain in clinical practice in the UK.

From 1995 however, I returned to Ireland, initially as an OT but a few years later embarked on my general management career which led me through a wide range of roles at local and national levels.

My advice to myself then, or indeed to anyone, is to be brave and to embrace career opportunities as they arise without fearing the unknown. In my experience I have found that putting your hand up when opportunities arise has always been worthwhile and rewarding from a learning and career development perspective.

Why did VHI Health Ireland sponsor the Grit Female Leaders in Healthcare Summit?

Vhi is delighted to sponsor the Grit Female Leaders in Healthcare Summit as we know it is an opportunity to reach out to current healthcare leaders and the healthcare leaders of the future.

Vhi is undergoing transformation and truly believe that women have a key role in this process.

Our healthcare vision requires collaboration, thriving networks, thought leadership and some bravery and this Summit brings together the people who share those values and attributes.

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