veski's portraits of innovation

A very special challenge

When Professor Sarah Hosking decided to make a career change in 2012, she put her feelers out to see if there were any opportunities and what happened next has led to Sarah becoming even more connected to the Victorian community.

“I was approached about the position of CEO of Very Special Kids by a headhunter,” Sarah says, “and he told me he had spoken to four different people that morning and they had all independently referred him to me, saying I would be a perfect fit for Very Special Kids. The headhunter couldn’t believe it. Nor could I.”

Sarah was awarded a veski innovation fellowship in 2008 after she relocated from the United Kingdom where she held the positions of Professor of Optometry at Aston University in Birmingham, and City University, London.

“Without veski I wouldn’t have returned to the scientific community in Australia. veski relaunched my academic career in Melbourne and connected me with the community through events and conversations. I was close to the veski board members. They were community-minded people.”

Sarah received funding for a joint research activity based at the Centre for Eye Research Australia [CERA], collaborating with Professor Jonathan Crowston, Head of the Glaucoma Unit and Professor Graeme Jackson at the Brain Research Institute at the Austin Hospital.

Sarah took the role as CEO of Very Special Kids just over a year ago because she wanted to get her hands dirty and make a difference in the community.  The centre is a children’s hospice that provides respite and end of life care for up to 24 kids through its family accommodation and a clinical care facility.

Sarah also loves the position because there’s a diversity of what she has done in her past in the role, which involves her “upgrading and evolving” the organisation.

“There are lots of things about me and my background which fit well with this role and the organisation,” she says. “It’s quite small and they needed someone who has experience working with multidisciplinary clinical teams as they conduct research in collaboration with the Royal Children’s Hospital. The job also involves fundraising and interactions with government so there are many potential stakeholders. It’s great fun.”

Sarah says she has had lots of management roles in her career because, “If I’m not challenged I need to move on”, so she relishes the fact that there is a lot to do at Very Special Kids because she can put to use her broad range of experience, and her passion.

“As a scientist and researcher, you must have vision and ideas to take things forward. In this job, I get to use my analytical and strategic thinking skills. I am building robust processes around strategy. I am a middle-aged mum to two children, William and Saskia, whom I love spending time with. I have a clinical interest in sick kids, and I have built and run a hospital in the past,” she says.

“My new job was taken as a change of direction. I feel as though I have become part of the Victorian community more than ever.”