"F'Failure is another stepping stone to greatness': Dr Kudzai Kanhutu

‘Failure is another stepping stone to greatness’: Dr Kudzai Kanhutu

If you think about the intersection of public health policy and women’s health, you might think of a space marred by complex debates and competing opinions. Add in refugee health, and you have yourself an area in society that needs both public attention and political support.

Dr Kudzau Kanthtu works at the intersection of all these domains. In 2017, she was awarded the Victorian Public Health Care Excellence in CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse person) and today researches housing as a social determinant of refugee settlement outcomes.

She has been nominated as a finalist in this year’s Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards in theScience, Health and Medicine category. 

Dr Kanthtu shares her career path, what inspires her, and the book that changed her life.

How did you get to where you are today? 
As the saying goes curiosity killed the cat but information brought it back! My career has been a merry dance of serendipity and volition. I always wanted to study Medicine but over time I started to feel that there was so much more you could do with a medical degree. So through a series of chance encounters and frequently forcing myself to do things I’m not very good at….I’ve found myself where I am today. Happily working at the intersection of  patient care, technology and project management.

What are you working on right now that’s got you really excited?
Working on a project that will introduce video-interpreters into patient home visits with our hospital in the home unit. Interpreters are vastly under-utilised in healthcare even though we know interpreters improve the quality of patient care. I love weaving tech into situations where it can really add value rather than just inane complexity. Equally exciting is getting to do clinical work in my weekly refugee and migrant health clinic.

What’s a key issue facing women in your profession or line of work right now?
Getting access to meaningful work from home policies and flexible work arrangements. The traditional medical workday is not conducive to managing your non work life. We still have many institutions who schedule team meetings at unsocial hours and people regularly working long and often unrecognised hours to keep afloat. There are opportunities to provide more flexibility but not yet the consistent will to see where and how flexibility can be safely introduced into our work lives.

The best tip you’ve been given in your career?
Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness. [Classic Oprah Winfrey]

How have mentors, sponsors or some other kind of support system aided your career, if at all?
I have a lot of what I’d call accidental sponsors and mentors. People who look out for me and let me know about opportunities and what else I could be doing to improve myself. If I had to list them all this reply would be pages long! They have helped me in countless ways to deal with challenges and stay optimistic.

As well as your career, what other priorities do you juggle?
Family, friends, fitness, and fun.

How do you manage your well-being and stay at the top of your game?
I schedule in family, friends, fun and fitness activities into my calendar so that they don’t get forgotten. Doesn’t mean their always perfectly balanced… just not forgotten.  I try hard to expose myself to unfamiliar topics and situations and am ener​gised by how being open to a  chat can give you new ideas.

Where do you currently get news and info regarding your industry and career?
Conferences, finance/tech magazines and colleagues mostly.

Got a business or career book or podcast you’d recommend?​
“Who cooked Adam Smith’s dinner?” by Katrine Marcal [This is where economic and cultural commentary done right!]

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