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A healthy win: Stephen Cornelissen

Stephen Cornelissen

After the awards ceremony, The CEO Magazine caught up with Stephen Cornelissen, CEO of the Year, to see how he felt about such an accolade and what it will mean for Mercy Health.

The CEO Magazine: How did you feel when Eddie McGuire read out your name as CEO of the Year?


I was both surprised and honoured. I was thrilled to be a finalist and to be named among so many other deserving Australian businessmen and women. I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to the judges and to The CEO Magazine for bestowing such an honour upon me and to the people of Mercy Health, both those who work with us and those whom we serve.

What does the award mean for your team at Mercy Health?

This award enables me to put the spotlight on the health and aged-care sector, if only briefly, to highlight the compassionate care, innovation and development happening in our sector, and the amazing work being done by our frontline people to make that possible. It’s significant for the Sisters of Mercy and for a Catholic health and aged-care organisation to be singled out for our business stewardship and leadership at a time when the communities we serve are rightly seeking and expecting much of mission-based companies.

Last year’s winner said that it opened a lot of doors for her. How do you think this recognition will benefit your business?

I hope winning this award will enable the wider community to recognise and have a greater appreciation for Mercy Health and for what an outstanding organisation it is.

To be acknowledged by The CEO Magazine allows me to talk about the amazing work Mercy Health does each and every day. It allows me to highlight the new initiatives we’re embarking on to improve the lives of others. Take Mercy Perinatal, for example, which was launched on December 5, 2016. Mercy Perinatal is a unique centre of excellence that will advance research, teaching and clinical practice with a focus on the first 300 days of life after conception. As an international centre of perinatal excellence, it will translate and fast-track pioneering advances in care to combat stillbirth, pre-eclampsia, ectopic pregnancies and maternal mental illness. Mercy Perinatal has the real potential to save thousands of lives across the world in the near future, and if doors open to further support and advance initiatives such as this, the benefits will surpass anything we ever expected.

“This award enables me to put the spotlight on the health and aged-care sector, if only briefly, to highlight the compassionate care, innovation and development happening in our sector.” – Stephen Cornelissen, CEO of the Year

What do you think it was from your achievements in the past 12 months that helped you win CEO of the Year?

During the past two years Mercy Health has grown significantly, particularly in the aged-care space, to become a truly national organisation. In aged care, we’ve grown from 1,200 beds to more than 1,900, completed the redevelopment of an existing aged-care home, and expanded into Western Australia, Queensland and two additional services in Victoria. We’re one of the largest not-for-profit providers in Victoria.

Stephen Cornelissen, CEO of Mercy Group
Stephen Cornelissen, Group CEO of Mercy Health. Winner of CEO of the Year 2016

We’ve also expanded our services in the Wyndham region, one of the fastest growing municipalities in Australia. As a former Wyndham resident who has witnessed the growing needs of the community, I feel especially passionate about this. Through proactive communications with the government, $85 million was secured — outstanding given Wyndham is a safe electoral seat. The funding enables the support of Wyndham’s rapidly evolving needs by building a desperately needed Critical Care Unit for seriously ill patients; significantly expanding mental health services; adding a new central sterile supply and six operating theatres.

These initiatives will save lives. I’m also a WGEA Pay Equity Ambassador and play an active role in supporting the retention of our WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation. Ensuring we remain a leader in equity and inclusion is business critical.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

Mercy Health will continue to expand its aged-care operations including building a new residential aged-care home in Ballarat, as well as rebuilding homes in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. We’ll also undertake planning to determine how we can better care for the communities we serve and also respond to new needs for those at risk in the areas of health and aged care. Another key focus will be work on Werribee Mercy Hospital’s new Critical Care Unit for seriously ill patients. This major expansion is due for completion in mid 2018.

What’s most rewarding about the work you do?

The most rewarding part of my role is being able to represent Mercy Health and its people, to build on the foundations of the Sisters of Mercy who’ve been caring for Australians for more than 150 years and to be part of an industry that’s solely focused on caring for others. To work with our people and share with them their passion and joy in helping others is rewarding beyond words.

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