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Leadership Workshop for Medical Women – How We Do What We Do 2020

The annual VMWS ‘How we do what we do’ event is one that we eagerly anticipate. The theme and format of the event varies from year to year, and this year’s edition was especially unique. For the first time, the event was facilitated by an internationally accredited leadership trainer, namely Kathleen Barker, who transformed the evening into an interactive workshop on the theme of leadership.

We were fortunate to hear words of wisdom from Dr Margaret Beavis, general practitioner and advocate for the Medical Association for Prevention of War; Dr Elizabeth Sigston, a surgeon in otorhinolaryngology, head & neck surgery and advocate for wellness in medicine and women in leadership; and Dianne Hill, CEO of Women’s Health Victoria with extensive experience in senior management roles. In fact, this paragraph only skims the surface of the many roles and accomplishments of these medical leaders.

Kathleen Barker kicked off the evening with a ‘fast deep dive into leadership,’ where she shared with us not just ideas but tools – including tools for improved self-awareness, and for connecting and communicating with others. Kathleen ensured that guests practised these skills immediately, and indeed the room was promptly connected and engaged. Throughout the evening, there were great questions being asked, and thoughtful reflections made.

We joined Dr Margaret Beavis, Dr Elizabeth Sigston, and Dianne Hill in a fireside conversation, to listen to what leadership meant to them, how they lead, and what they have learnt from so doing.

Upon the evening’s conclusion, participants were asked to reflect on their ‘favourite parts’ and ‘top takeaways’. While we did all walk away with cool new VMWS pens, some of the key leadership lessons we left with included:


  1. Be clear on your purpose. Work is more than tasks – reflect frequently to check that your work aligns with your vision.
  2. Say ‘yes’ to things and show courage. Great things can happen when you are out of your comfort zone.
  3. But also, say ‘no’ to things. Be intentional with your time, because it is limited.
  4. Pay attention to your personal development, be reflective, and continue trying to improve.
  5. A medical degree can be a powerful tool in the advocacy world. Speak up and speak out about the things you care about. Get involved with organisations that spark your interest.
  6. Be kind and be honest.


We would like to say a very big thank you to Kathleen Baker for sharing her passion and leadership knowledge with us, and for facilitating the evening; to our three brilliant guests Dr Margaret Beavis, Dr Elizabeth Sigston, and Dianne Hill, for sharing their experience and wisdom; to Women’s Health Victoria for providing us with a venue (and excellent view of the city); to our sponsors who supported the evening, Medic Oncall, MIPS, and Stuart Broadley and Associates Financial Advisers; and to the VMWS committee members involved in organising the event – thank you.

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