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Featured CEO: Maree McCabe of Dementia Australia shares, “Be willing to take risks and to innovate”

2 min read

Maree McCabe is the Chief Executive Officer of Dementia Australia and a member of the organisation’s Board. In February 2017, Maree was appointed to the role of Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO and led the unification process from the federation of Alzheimer’s Australia to the unified, national organisation, Dementia Australia, established in October 2017.

Within the federation Maree served as CEO Alzheimer’s Australia Vic from October 2010 to August 2016. A recognised leader in the health and aged care sector Maree brings more than twenty years’ experience across the health, mental health and aged care sectors to her current role. Third Sector News caught up with her about passion and motivation in the sector, and learned some tips on how to stay ahead of the market.

What keeps you so passionate and motivated about Dementia Australia’s cause?

I am inspired by the courage, generosity and resilience of our clients who live with dementia, and the incredible compassion and generosity of their carers and family members. It fuels my passion and commitment. My father also died with dementia and the impact this had on him, my mother and our family was profound. It is an honour and privilege to lead Dementia Australia and to be surrounded by an extraordinary team and people with lived experience who give so generously of their time and experience to make a difference to the lives of others.

How do you assess your organisation’s business performance?

We assess our business performance against our strategic plan which was informed by people living with dementia, their families and carers, our staff and the health care community. We measure against KPIs set by funding bodies and the Board, and use the results of client and staff satisfaction surveys as measures of performance.

What are your top tips to adapt and remain ahead of the market?

Feedback from clients, staff and stakeholders is gold and provides the opportunity to continue to improve what you do. The people who know best about dementia are those with the lived experience and they inform much of what we do as an organisation. Be willing to take risks and to innovate. We had no idea of the difference the technology we developed to help people living with dementia and the care sector would have when we first developed the idea. It has been a game changer in so many ways and most importantly is making a profound and lasting difference to the lives of people living with dementia.

Board members are playing an increasingly vital role in many organisations decision making processes, how can organisations ensure that they build strong relationships between board members and senior management staff?

The Board sets the culture, and the relationship they have with senior management staff is critical to the performance of the organisation. Provide opportunities for the Board and senior management to engage both professionally and informally. Ensure that feedback from the Board to managers is positive and empowers managers to know they have the support of the Board. Transparency builds trust and is essential to building these relationships. We are all part of the team that is there to achieve the vision of the organisation and as such need to understand and respect those in the roles required to achieve this


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