Exclusive Interview with Caroline Hudson - Chief Human Resources Officer at Mater Health Services

Could you tell me a bit more about yourself and your role at Mater Health Services?

For the past 12 years I have lead the People functions at Mater. Initially as the Executive Director of People and Learning and then, in 2016 after Mater established itself as a group, the Chief Human Resource Officer. I also have the responsibility for more than 800 volunteers with nearly 30% of them under 35 years old. The volunteer clinical and corporate roles we offer are richly varied and rewarding. A popular Australian women's magazine is about to publish a story about our Cuddle Mums program. The program is so successful there is a waiting list of more than two years. 

 What are you focused on right now? 

The employee experience is a major focus right now as we know that it has a huge influence on the patient experience, and ultimately through its correlation with employee engagement on clinical safety outcomes. 
We are also looking to the future with an exciting project with Macquarie University and a private IT R&D partner that is examining how AI can augment the work of clinicians and other employees. 


How is the role of the HR function within Mater responding to the current aims and challenges of your business? 

 There is constant pressure on the health industry to improve productivity. In a Not For Profit health organisation, where the margins are small, HR must take every opportunity to drive these improvements. My team are currently working on a project that is a first in the health industry to implement tools in the business that maximise productivity by taking a contemporary international best practice approach to having the skills that are needed in our clinical workplace where they are needed, on a daily basis. 


What do you see as the main challenges that the HR function faces in the future

While I know that there are some that believe there will not be enough jobs for everyone as technology will change the nature of work and roles available. There is a demographic evidence that Australia will not have enough people to do the work that is needed in the future with the numbers of baby boomers retiring as opposed to the numbers of millennial's and generation Z's available. In other words, most of us did not have enough babies a decade or two ago to maintain the size of the workforce needed to fill all the roles necessary in the future. In the health industry alone, by 2025, Australia will be more than 200,000 nurses short. 


What key characteristics do you look for in HR professionals when recruiting for your team? 

I look for a strong customer orientation, commercial acumen, creativity and agility. In health we need to do a lot with very little and so we cannot rely on generous resourcing levels. This is not all bad as it tends to force us to be very creative, agile and results orientated.


What is the best career advice you have ever been given?

When things seem overwhelming take only bite size pieces (and chew like mad). Before you know it you will have achieved what you initially thought was impossible!


Best place for a holiday destination you have visited? 

Lake Tahoe for a white Christmas two years ago. We had a wooden house with a high pitched roof in the woods near the lake and woke up on Christmas morning to a wonderful, white, picture perfect landscape. 







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