Professor Fiona Wood @ Women & Leadership: Ignite Your Strengths, Women, Management & Work Conference :: Day 2

So excited, Winthroop Professor Fiona Wood is about to speak to us.
best advise is from her Mum, “Grasp the nettle with both hands, hang on and move forward”.


She has learned to Self organize. The decisions she makes come from her experiences and her genetics. Asks is it learned behavior and really is that any different from any areas?

Her parents worked hard to ensure that she and her 3 siblings would wake up and enjoy why they were doing. They wanted them to be educated and have a good life.

Father was interviewed as to what his wish for his kids would be doing when they were older. He told of his wish for them to be elite sportsmen and women. The interviewer angrily erupted asking,”Who are you to say that?? Who do you think you are not to expect them to go down the coal mine like you?” his reply? “Who am I not to dream?” how wonderful is that???

By 15, Fiona realised she had to work to her strengths and be realistic with your dreams and she was not going to be a sportswoman.

Her mother investigated the options for her daughters’ education at she had missed and from the limited options available she went and got herself employed as the PE teacher at the local Quaker school- despite not being really qualified.

Her mother was a driven woman, not for herself but for her children to achieve.

After a weekend in London with her brothers she decided go go to uni in London ( well it was the late 70s!). At Med School day one they went into the anatomy room – dissecting the forearm was an awakening for Fiona. She was hooked on anatomy.

She was inky 1 of 12 women! There wasn’t event a ladies room in the main building it was in the basement.

When she announced that she wanted te be a surgeon – the reaction was negative. So she kept it to herself and devised a plan, she recognized that rightly or wrongly she had to put herself in the position that they couldn’t not choose her. Imagine the tenacity of a girl from Glasgow at a London Med School in the Kate 70s?? LOVE IT!!

She chose research. She connected with the plastic surgeons @ the extreme makeover end. In order to do the cutting edge surgery required extensive research- which she did on the cadavers….

She would be in surgery watching leadership in action. She saw that the surgeon could influence someone’s life because of the team behind him.

She realized hat at some point she would be that person and that men could get away with treating people worse than women could. She recognized that some of these men were not getting the most out of the people around them.

Despite a professor recommending that she not progress, and thankfully she was interviewed by his enemy!! He told her that anyone who upset the professor that much deserves the job – and she got it!!

She ended up in East Grinstead where they specialized in Burns Surgery.

Fast forward to 1991, living in Perth, working as a surgeon, married and starting her family which now includes 6 children!! Not an easy path!

Another milestone she learned about ‘growing skin’ in the USA. Fiona rang and begged the doctors to grown skin for a seriously burned patient. The agreed because they said she was so desperate. Sadly the patient died despite the skin taking. This nearly crushed her but she drove on. She then applied and got the position of Director of the Burns Unit.

Proud moment was when her 6 year old son created a skin incubator for his school project !!

She was so driven but after feedback from a hospital counsellor who told her that she was obviously driven and passionate but she was not making the time to inform and educate the people around her and they didn’t understand her.

She realized that she had to step up as the leader of a team and is ultimately grateful for the ‘interventon’. She created an environment where everyone knew everyone else’s role and it was a seamless unit that acted like one.

Her underlying fundamental belief that everyone is unique and special and nave something to give. If you don’t share it, it means nothing, it is worthless.
A leader recognises the skills in their team and let’s them do it!!

As 2005 Australian of the Year, she was asked what she has learned, her reply, “take reponsibilty for the choices you make in every aspect of your life once done, facilitate these strengths in others”.

After her time in Bali, where Fiona worked tirelessly to help victims of the horrific bomb, a colleague said that they would never see the sacrifice and the amazing strength of the rescuers and helpers again in their lifetime. Fiona recognized that this was a sad indictment on humanity and decided to CONNECT WITH GOOD NEWS STORIES AND SHARE THEM. She tells us there is power in the good – let’s all adopt this thinking hey??

After an amazing one hour, I am in awe and have the ultimate respect for this amazing human being.



One thought on “Professor Fiona Wood @ Women & Leadership: Ignite Your Strengths, Women, Management & Work Conference :: Day 2

  1. […] Professor Fiona Wood @ Women & Leadership: Ignite Your Strengths, Women, Management & Work C… Women & Leadership: Ignite Your Strengths, Women, Management & Work Conference :: Day 1 RSS feed […]

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