Rethinking and re-engineering Medibank’s approach to healthcare and its role in the healthcare industry has been an all-consuming focus for George Savvides and his executive team. Since joining the company as managing director 11 years ago, George has brought the business back from the brink and revolutionised the way it deals with customers, suppliers, and partners. George has also held governance roles with World Vision internationally, and is now the local chairman of the organisation, viewing healthcare challenges from a global perspective.

George’s father, being a very practical sort of guy and a tradesman, taught him a few trade skills along the way. They spent a lot of weekends together doing things other than playing sport, though he did get involved in hockey. That influenced his approach to his professional career, and engineering fit into that continuum well. George was determined to study engineering at university, but really struggled to get in over the threshold for the University of New South Wales. He just got over the line, and the first year was very challenging. By the time he was nearing the end of his four-year degree, he was receiving high distinctions.

The DNA for a career in healthcare was cast from George’s very first job. His first job was as a group industrial engineer role looking after four factories in Sydney. The exclusive employment in those factories were people with disabilities, both intellectual and physical.

The thing that appealed to him about that job was that he could express his skills as an engineer in constructing products and production lines for people. George says, “the individuals themselves had special needs, so it was a much more satisfying dimension to be able to connect the person with the job, make it fulfilling and meaningful for them, draw out their talent, and overcome their constraints.” George was in that role for four years, and built a few more factories and won a number of big contracts during that time.