As a senior anaesthetist and Deputy Director in a major regional hospital, Dr Tanya Kelly had spent many years learning and developing the skills that made her an expert in her field.
It wasn’t until a discussion shifted to the business world that she realised she needed to expand her knowledge with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from The University of Queensland (UQ).
“I had been given some non-clinical responsibilities and was representing the Sunshine Coast University Hospital in a meeting with another hospital, and the conversation turned to the business side of health and hospital management,” Tanya explains.
“All of a sudden, the meeting was about Opex, Capex and balance sheets, and I didn’t understand the language at all. I walked away frustrated that I couldn’t engage in the conversation confidently.”
It was the first moment of discomfort in a career that stretched back to completing her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at UQ in 2000.
Tanya advanced her specialisation in anaesthesia, working at various hospital services around the country, including a stint as a medical practitioner for an Antarctic research mission and several years working in Darwin.
With a young and growing family in tow, Tanya settled on the Sunshine Coast in 2015. She started working at Nambour Hospital around the same time as planning was underway for the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital at Kawana.
“There was a lot of discussion about how we would design and transition to a new facility, and I found myself doing less clinical work and more management and leadership,” she said.
While undertaking this role, Tanya realised that if she was to continue developing her career, she needed to undertake further study. After initially considering a Master of Health Management, her sister convinced her to do an MBA.
“My sister rightly pointed out that I already had a good understanding of the health industry; what I needed was a broader understanding of business and leadership,” Tanya said.
With three young children and a hectic professional schedule, she decided to do the UQ MBA due to her ability to undertake subjects in an intensive mode.
“The UQ MBA offered one-week immersion-style courses, which was exactly what I needed. I could take a week of leave, immerse myself in my studies, and then get back to work,” she said.
“Because I was there for the knowledge, not just the piece of paper, I bit off as much as I could chew at the time and took about four years to complete the whole program.
“This was the perfect pace for me, and I studied alongside a wonderful group of students, so we formed some really good friendships.”
For Tanya, a highlight of the degree was the opportunity to undertake UQ partner programs, including Wharton School Global Consulting Practicum and a Harvard University Leadership Exchange.
“The Leadership Exchange was an extraordinary opportunity and was taught at such an unbelievably high level it was impossible not to be inspired,” she said.
“Since finishing the degree, I think back to that meeting.
“Being able to hold my own and add value across a range of topics has been one of the most important outcomes of my MBA.”
With the added knowledge acquired during her MBA, Tanya progressed to be Director of Anaesthesia for 4 years and in early 2022 Tanya was appointed Chair of the Queensland Clinical Senate.
The Senate represents clinicians from across the health system and provides strategic advice and leadership on system-wide issues affecting the quality, equity and efficient delivery of patient care within Queensland.