Meet Shanthini Naidoo – CEO of St Vincent’s Curran Foundation

CDP: As CEO of St Vincent’s Curran Foundation your role is to lead the fundraising efforts in support of excellence in patient care, medical research and clinical education at St Vincent’s Hospitals across NSW. Can you break each of these areas down and explain more about them and what you do?

S: The Foundation’s role is to support the vision of all our Hospitals and the amazing doctors, nurses and allied health staff to deliver the best care possible. St Vincent’s Hospitals are not-for-profit so the donations we receive are used to bridge the gap between available funding to help us buy new medical equipment and fund new patient services and programs to allow our clinicians to deliver the best care possible. Donations also fund innovative new medical research and ongoing education for our clinicians to allow them to deliver specialist care and to support new buildings and facilities.  Recently we have raised funds to build a new specialist Bone Marrow Transplant Ward at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, build the new St Vincent’s Private Community Hospital in Griffith and to redevelop St Vincent’s Private Hospital Sydney.

CDP: What does an average day look like for you?

S: I wake early, check a few emails and try (with an emphasis on try) to go for a swim or walk before getting in to work by 8.30am.  Some mornings I have very early morning meetings to catch up with doctors and other clinicians before they start the day. Each day is different depending on the priorities of upcoming events and meeting the needs of our donors and stakeholders. Most days include meetings with people interested in getting more involved with St Vincent’s and often updating our donors on projects they are involved in. There is often an after-hours Foundation event which I will be involved in hosting but if not, I take the opportunity to relax at home by cooking dinner.  If I am lucky in a week I will squeeze in an art exhibition or show.

CDP: The importance of working with a great team?

S: Extremely! Without a high performing team, we would not be able to maintain strong relationships with all our supporters and many stakeholders, let alone achieve the ambitious fundraising targets we have each year. Our whole team works together to ensure that we have meaningful relationships with our donors and grow our brand through high quality communication and events.  We work in a highly measurable environment with big targets. Nurturing the team does need lots of time and attention but is essential to our success. I  try to ensure we spend time discussing the way we are working, not just what we are working on. I really enjoy helping people to learn and develop so am genuinely interested in their progression as individuals not just as team members.

CDP: What do you love most about working for the St Vincent’s Curran Foundation?

S: I’d have to say it’s supporting the mission of the Sisters of Charity, the founding Sisters who established St Vincent’s more than 160 years ago. These inspirational and pioneering Sisters were committed to delivering excellent care to all, regardless of their wealth or status, and these values have carried through to this day! We are lucky enough to have a few Sisters of Charity still on Campus who remind us daily of the importance of staying true to mission. They are truly inspiring women.

CDP: Greatest challenge?

S: Staying focussed on the big picture whilst dealing with the many, often important, but unplanned instances and requests that arise throughout the day. These are also often wonderful ideas or opportunities being offered to us by our donors and supporters. I have learnt that if I put the time into planning ahead for the things I can control, not only does it help my daily work, but overall I am a better leader and a happier person.

CDP: Most winter weekends we can find you at the AFL watching your beloved Swans. What other ways do you “switch off”?

S: My first and abiding passion most definitely is my beloved Sydney Swans! I am so proud to be an Ambassador for the team and if I could, I would spend winter travelling to every one of their games. My idea of serious “switching off” though is through travel.  I love exploring new destinations, cuisines, art and culture.  Lying by the pool with a good book in an exotic location, preferably with no access to emails, rates very high on my annual list of “things to do”. 

CDP: You are a great cook! How did you develop your love of food and who inspired you in this area?

S: I spent my early childhood in South Africa where I grew up surrounded by the smells and taste sensations of my extended family’s delicious Indian cooking. When I moved to Australia I fell in love with the all the multi-cultural cuisines on offer and it all grew from there! I really enjoy developing new recipes and now I even write them down to share with friends and family.

CDP: Favourite dish?

S: I have so many! But if I had to choose, it would be Durban-style lamb and potato curry as my all-time favourite. It known to be the peak of comfort food and a wonderful cure-all in our family.

CDP: One wish…?

S: That the Swans win the Grand Final in 2018!

CDP: Career highlight?

S: I would have to say that it has been working on the campaign to raise more than $43m to support the redevelopment of the St Vincent’s Private Hospital. The opportunity to work with so many leaders in our community on this campaign has been inspiring for me. I can’t wait to see the new East Wing open in 2018.

Learn more about Shanthini here. 

Corporate Diversity Pathways is a full service diversity and inclusion advisory focussed on empowering women for diversity, happiness, inclusion and peak performance. We do this through Careers for Women, Executive Development Programs, Coaching for Peak Performance, Workplace Wellness, D+I Advisory and Action, D+I Leaders Network and The Power of Mentoring.