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Petra steps up to bat for the McGrath Foundation

by Sally Miles on July 30, 2014

This month, Petra Buchanan takes on the role of CEO of the McGrath Foundation. She takes over from Kylea Tink who resigned earlier in the year.

Petra talks about the experiences that have brought her to this role and where the future is headed.

A global perspective                   

Petra has over 20 years experience in the media, television and technology sectors. She has worked for companies overseas and in Australia including the Discovery Channel, Unisys and ASTRA (Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association).

Having such a depth of experience both locally and globally has benefited her perspective and understanding of places, cultures and people.

“Having diverse experience has definitely influenced how I am able to connect with people and embrace new ideas. Coming from a business-dominated background, I am very excited about bringing my skills to the McGrath Foundation.” Petra says.

Glenn McGrath AM, Co-founder and President, and John Conde AO, Chairman of the McGrath Foundation are both enthusiastic in welcoming Petra to the team.

“Petra has an enviable reputation for achievement that will be important in leading the McGrath Foundation at this critical stage in its development.” John says.

Branding and trust

Part of Petra’s experience has been in working to develop and build awareness for leading brands.

“Branding is so important to an organisation. It reflects how they feel about an organisation and therefore how they will contribute to it. People must feel motivated to support an organisation.

Importantly, a charitable organisation must be trusted by the public. The McGrath Foundation has done an amazing job in such a short amount of time to build this trust and brand. I look forward to continuing this work.” Petra says.

Next year the McGrath Foundation will celebrate its 10th year. The organisation has experienced organic growth. From its beginnings of Jane and Glenn McGrath working together to leverage Glenn’s celebrity status and raise breast cancer awareness to a fully-fledged support network with over 100 breast care nurses. It is one of Australia’s fastest growing charities.

Having diverse experience has definitely influenced how I am able to connect with people and embrace new ideas

Growing the organisation

Petra’s mission will be to further grow the organisation in line with the Board’s ambitious goals.

Why the need to grow? Petra conveys her passion for the cause:

“Because breast cancer is a major issue and it continues to be a rising problem. Every day 42 people are diagnosed in Australia. It is one of the most common types of cancer.

We need to work hard to ensure we can bring more breast care nurses into the lives of cancer victims, to offer them and their families the information, counselling and support that they need.”

Petra doesn’t hesitate to raise a call-to-action for interested parties that align with the values of the McGrath Foundation to get in touch with them.

“We are looking for opportunities to work with organisations to diversify what we are doing and connect in all kinds of ways to achieve significant outcomes for breast cancer patients.” She says.

She’s got so many ideas about where to take the organisation, and will be working on a strategic plan as she steps into her new role.

Mentoring and leadership

Last year Petra was awarded the B&T Women in Media award for mentoring.

She acknowledges how lovely it is to be recognised, but feels that a mentor can get just as much out of the relationship that a mentee can. She has always felt this way and has always sought to work with people and offer them her time and attention. She is part of the Wendy McCarthy mentoring program. She mentors two individuals, both from very diverse backgrounds and from different organisations.

She goes on to talk about the need to support each other in the workplace. She has had her share of supportive people and also confrontations but overall has had a positive experience of working alongside both men and women.

“I have been fortunate enough to have worked with really supportive leaders. It’s all about bringing everyone along with you and setting the right example.” Petra says.

We need to look outside the square and not be limited by past beliefs … We should be embracing more diverse backgrounds as there could be a wealth of experience and potential richness we are not tapping into.

Women leaders

Petra is a great role model for aspiring women leaders. She recognises that we have a way to go until women have equal representation on boards and other positions of leadership.

“Challenges exist for everyone and certain challenges can be unique to an organisation, or be common to a nation. The Australian business environment can be challenging for women. Take board representation as an example, we are not as far down the track as we should be.

“We need to look outside the square and not be limited by past beliefs. Traditionally, boards look to place individuals from certain backgrounds, particularly women with legal or finance backgrounds. We should be embracing more diverse backgrounds as there could be a wealth of experience and potential richness we are not tapping into.” She says.

Thank you Petra for contributing your time and thoughts to Leaders in Heels. 

Sally Miles
Sally is Head Publisher at IntoScience, part of award-winning global education company 3P Learning. After hours, she avoids housework by playing with her two children, writing or going for a run. Always a strong advocate for women's rights and gender equality, Sally is thrilled to have the privilege of being Women’s Editor at Leaders in Heels.
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