Due to a bicornuate (heart shaped) uterus, Melinda’s three sons were all born premature. Not being able to find any Australian support group or charity organisation dedicated to supporting families of premature and sick newborns, in 2005, Melinda initiated Miracle Babies.
Miracle Babies Foundation is Australia’s leading non-profit organisation that supports premature and sick newborns, their families and the hospitals that care for them. Since 2005, Miracle Babies Foundation has helped thousands of Australian families through the traumatic experience of having a baby born early or sick.
Every year in Australia around 44,000 newborn babies require the help of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Nursery (SCN). 25,000 of these babies are born premature and up to 1000 babies lose their fight for life.
While most Australians are aware of the impact on society of breast and prostate cancer, many are totally unaware of the number of cases of premature and sick newborns each year. More Australian babies are admitted into a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Nursery (SCN) every year than the combined number of people diagnosed with breast and prostate cancer.
The birth of a premature or sick newborn can be an overwhelming and traumatic experience for families. Their lives are permanently changed, significantly influenced by their NICU experience.
Describe yourself in 3 words: Passionate, driven and dedicated
What is your life motto? To trust your inner voice, it won’t fail you. I remember reading that your feelings are the biggest conveyor of your truth. I live by that.
When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I never chose what I am doing now as a career. Life’s circumstances guided me this way and it is definitely what I am meant to be doing. Success, I guess, really depends on how you define it. I believe it is living the life you have always imagined for yourself and because life is fluid that can always be refined so going by that I have been successful for a long time as well as still on my way.
How much time and effort did you dedicate? This question usually makes me smile as I believe that when something is your passion, it becomes part of you and you never really turn off. So to answer, a lot, all the time! Action every day, even if it’s a little, will build to big results overall.
What are the challenges in your line of work? As a not for profit, it is always funding.Being in the not for profit space is very interesting because we operate as a business – except for the fact that in a traditional business, you would offer a service or product to receive a direct payment in exchange. In a not for profit situation, you are offering a service or product but receiving (or asking) people who may not necessarily access your services for the funds to do so. It is definitely a challenge and you have to not be afraid to ask.
What feedback taught you an extremely valuable lesson? To do what we do well and not worry about what others are doing.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. I have definitely done that and I love my team.
In your mind, is formal training essential? Yes and no. It really depends on what you want to do. I remember a high school teacher telling me, after I expressed disappointment at missing a point from the top mark in an exam,not to worry, that the marks will get me part of the way there and having a personality and ability to relate to people would get me the rest.
Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? I don’t think you need one person, but many that you can call on for advice or input. I am lucky to have this. Mentors can come in different forms and I’ve noticed that sometimes they change as you change and grow. You go about getting them by networking and being out there. As a first step, I would advise to join a networking group such as Business Chicks or one in your industry.
What are some steps those starting out can take to start/further their career? I sometimes find this hard to answer because I never set a goal to be the Founder and CEO of a national not for profit. What I did desire was to do 2 things – create and contribute in my life – to be a part of something that was bigger than myself. I think if you hold desire in your heart, and be open to what comes your way, things start to fall into place.
What kept you going when you weren’t at your best? My husband who has faith in me when I don’t, my kids who drive me to want to better than I can be and the miracle families around Australia who go through so much to bring their babies into the world.
Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? I believe that luck or being in the right place at the right time really means being open to opportunities as they present themselves and then, and this is important, taking action on it.