Chatting with Jackie O'Connor

At Maida Learning, we always like to get out and about and meet people. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Jackie O’Connor: mum, traveller, masters student and allied health entrepreneur! Jackie has an infectious positive outlook on the possibilities in healthcare for the future and is determined to help the allied health profession reach those heights.

Jackie graduated from a Bachelor of Prosthetics & Orthotics (Honours) in 2001 and after seeing a gap in the market for allied health professionals, she launched her own endeavour aimed at “getting the ‘doing’ done”. Jackie works with organisations, associations and individual businesses to establish how those important tasks can be achieved to produce outcomes for clients, but also the individuals she works with. Jackie understands that practitioners in allied health and board members within associations are time poor, working for the outcomes of their clients, and often not finding time to stop and do all the tasks they need to grow, develop, and innovate. Jackie sees her role in helping people achieve those tasks. I’ll give you an example, if you wanted to look at incorporating a 3D printer into your practice, Jackie can research available printers, costs, efficiencies and training needed, and present to you options for your practice, saving you the time of having to find all that out for yourself.

Jackie stated that following the completion of her undergraduate studies, she developed a wonderful relationship with her “energetic boss” who recognised her ambition and created a supportive place to work and develop as an allied health professional. Jackie feels that this connection with her boss helped her believe she could make a difference. After some time in the public health system, Jackie grew to find the systems and inefficiencies drove her into a management role herself, where she could effect a greater change. It wasn’t until she questioned whether she could actually make a difference in her management role, that her partner helped her to see she could find a solution to the problem that presented for managers and practitioners - a low-risk cost-effective way to get things done! There unfolds Jackie’s business: Allied Health Specialist Consultants.

As with any new start up, Jackie knows there are barriers, and we talked about some of the blockers she has come across. Jackie used her Maida Learning planning booklet (I know, I was so excited!!) and through this she had identified very early on in her business what her own personal blockers might be. Similar to many other people, these fell into the same categories at a time to get things done, and fear of failure. Once Jackie knew these were her possible roadblocks, she set about working out her strategies right from the start as to how she would overcome them. The perfect planning model right there! Jackie ensures she sets realistic goals, has learned to be better at prioritising, and has already started to think about delegation in her business; how it might work and what tasks are best to delegate, so when that time comes, she has a smooth transition. Jackie recommends to any allied health professional the book ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferris, to help combat confidence and fear of failure issues.

I always love hearing about the ‘other’ things that business owners get up to when they are not at work. And again, Jackie does not disappoint with her enthusiasm for many interests outside her work. Jackie is an avid traveller, a passion she shares with her partner, and she states that she has grown in herself, from the sights and experiences she has encountered on her travels. A highlight was scuba diving in the Red Sea in Egypt, a dive she almost wishes she didn’t do first up because other dives just don’t reach that milestone! When not travelling, Jackie is spending time with her family and has always loved to exercise.

I was intrigued to know how Jackie was managing working from home. Everyone has different tactics to how they stay productive. Jackie has found working from home is really working for her, is finding her productivity is increased, her time wasted in traffic has ceased, leaving her with more time in life without the commute. Jackie’s main strategies for her day are having a set lunch break, planning social outings and sticking to them (to get your adult discussions in life!), and being disciplined not to ‘go back into the office after dinner’ – because it is there and convenient. That way, Jackie feels she gets the best of both worlds… time for work and time for play and family. When not at home, Jackie spends some time working from a co-working space. Again, she finds this gives her some social interaction but allows a space for meeting with others.

Meeting Jackie reinforced many things for me, but in a nutshell, she highlighted how important positive mentors can be in the career development of new graduates, and how finding and harnessing your own inner critic is an essential part of business. Thank you, Jackie, for meeting with me, a real pleasure.

To find out more about Allied Health Specialist Consultants or to say hello to Jackie, click here.

Leadership, Outsourcing, Work Life Balance

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