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HomeminewsNew leadership, and a new era, at Brien Holden

New leadership, and a new era, at Brien Holden

In a time of rising myopia prevalence, soon to affect half the world’s population, Brien Holden Vision Institute has announced a shift in focus to address future needs both for the ophthalmic industry and the public health sector.

The shift will see a redoubling of efforts to strengthen core business – delivering optical inventions and public health solutions to the world. Professor Kovin Naidoo has resigned as CEO of the both Institute and the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation. This allows an opportunity to create a new structure for the businesses.

The Board of the Institute announced a two-pronged approach to the development of the Group’s new focus. Ms Yvette Waddell, as new CEO of the Institute, will focus on a translational research response.

The new structure will create a strong, focused, agile Brien Holden Vision Institute and Foundation

The role of CEO of the Foundation has traditionally been held by the CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute. In a new role, Amanda Davis will take on a dedicated position of Interim CEO to drive the public health response.

Professor Brian Layland, the Chair of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, says that the focus of the new CEOs will be on individual business growth that strengthens the organisations’ shared goals. He says that sustainability and expansion are high on the list for future investment. “The Institute’s new focus will be a significant undertaking for both translational research and public health but, ultimately, the two businesses will share a clear new vision.”

Professor Kovin Naidoo, has been a respected and valued member of the Group for 20 years. He played a significant part in the development of the organisations as they set new standards in translational research, optometry education and public health. Most recently Professor Naidoo, was the Global Director of the Our Children’s Vision a campaign which he led from its inception with the support and encouragement of Brien Holden and 70 global NGO partners.

Professor Naidoo became CEO of the Institute with the sudden passing of the Institute’s founder, Professor Brien Holden, in 2015. Professor Brian Layland says it was a difficult time during which Naidoo showed courage and strength as he stabilised and grew the Institute’s complex business. “Kovin brought stability to the organisation during an emotional transition. We owe him a great debt of gratitude.”

New CEO for the Institute, Yvette Waddell, has been the Chief Operating Officer of the Institute since 2003. She replaced Professor Holden on the Board in July 2015. She has amassed an impressive track record in the ophthalmic sector in the last 20 years, spearheading licensing of intellectual property and building new business relationships with leaders of industry.

Ms Waddell heads a team of world leaders in their field, Dr Ravi C Bakaraju, Head of Research and Development, Professor Arthur Ho, Chief Scientist and Innovation Officer, Professor Padmaja Sankaridurg, Head of Myopia Program and Intellectual Property, and Associate Professor Klaus Ehrmann, Director of Technology, among them.

“The teams at Brien Holden have decades of experience in research and development in the area of contact lenses, spectacles and IOLs. My new role will allow the Institute to focus on those strengths to meet the needs of the industry and address the need for new products in myopia,” said Waddell.

Building the greater public health response to the myopia crisis, Interim CEO, Amanda Davis, says the need for a global action has never been so important. “We haven’t faced a crisis in eye care that matches what we see now with myopia.”

“The good news is that with a collaborative approach and significant investment of resources, we can substantially impact the severity of the crisis.” she added. “Development of new systems of management for myopia is really just a starting point. We need global investment and a coalition approach to the crisis right now.”

Amanda Davis is a leader in the public health sector. She has been the Chief Operating Officer for the Foundation since 2006. She also currently holds the position of Chair of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness in the Western Pacific Region. She leads a strong team of over 100 educators, optometrists, public health researchers, project managers and support staff. They are a cohesive team, working in over 20 countries, who strive to bring vision correction and eye health to those who are marginalised and under-privileged in the world.

Davis says that the new roles, with proven leadership from with the Institute, is a major step forward. “The new structure will create a strong, focused, agile Brien Holden Vision Institute and Foundation.”

Both Waddell and Davis were mentored by Professor Holden, who spent his career inspiring scientists and health care professionals around the world with his dream of ‘vision for everyone, everywhere’. As the guardians of the legacy of Professor Holden, and the organisations he founded, Waddell says she believes the new direction represents the future of that legacy.