Nursing leader wins prestigious Future Leaders MBA Scholarship

13 November 2018
From traveller to Chief Nursing Officer
Canadian Nicole Thibodeau arrived in Australia as a tourist in 2011, liked the weather and decided to stay. Nicole describes herself as “highly ambitious” and her success in her adopted homeland would seem to bear that out.
Nicole Thibodeau

Nicole Thibodeau

Seven years ago Nicole was a traveller earning a little money on the side through nursing agencies in Sydney and Brisbane. Today, she is Head of Nursing Services with Primary Health Care Ltd, one of Australia’s leading private healthcare providers.

But Nicole’s story doesn’t plateau there. Early next year she will become Chief Nursing Officer at Primary Health Care and will, at the same time, join the nation’s leading MBA program at the University of Sydney Business School.

Her part-time studies will be funded by a prestigious $60,000 Future Leaders MBA Scholarship

When talking of leadership, Nicole likes to quote the late United States President John F. Kennedy who was to have delivered a speech on the subject in Dallas on that fateful November day back in 1963.

In that speech, the assassinated President was intending to say that “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”.

Throughout her life, Nicole has been called upon to lead. In school it was sporting teams. Later, in the Canadian wilderness and at the world renowned Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, Los Angeles, it was teams of fellow healthcare workers.

Nicole now oversees the work of around 400 nurses undertaking an average of a million nursing consults a year across 72 medical centres.

“When reflecting on my journey, I realise that my personal drive to succeed has always translated into a drive to facilitate the success of my teams,” says Nicole. “The Future Leadership MBA Scholarship will provide me with the learning mentioned in Kennedy’s undelivered speech.”

“I need to strengthen the learning half of my leadership skill set,” she explained. “It is my aim in studying business to deepen my understanding of crucial elements such financial management, marketing, and business negotiations.” 

“This will equip me with the knowledge to make the best decisions for my team, articulate these decisions effectively to gain support, and build further confidence to advocate for the nursing profession and our patients.”

Ultimately, Nicole wants “to make a real impact on the health of Australians”. 

“Requiring particular attention is the critical shortage of General Practice (GP) Nurses,” she said. “This is doubly concerning considering our current ageing workforce and increasing patient workload.”  

“We need to make our field more appealing to nurses, as the future of General Practice depends on it.  With exploration of new healthcare funding models upon us, our profession will be called upon to take on greater responsibility and we need to be prepared for that,” Nicole concluded.

"We congratulate Nicole and are delighted to have her join the program," said the director of the MBA program, Professor Guy Ford. "Her journey from clinician to director of nursing in a large publicly listed firm is inspirational and I’m sure she will have much to offer to the other students in her cohort."

Nicole was selected from an initial pool of scholarship applications, who participated in a three-hour masterclass. That group was further whittled down to five.

The University of Sydney Business School has awarded the other four finalists – David Brain, Felicity Bridger, Luke Byrnes and Katie Parker – with partial MBA scholarships.​