Pete Haydon, CEO of Optometry Victoria/ South Australia (OV/SA), will move to the Australian College of Optometry (ACO) on 22 November, to take up the role of CEO.
Mr Haydon’s achievements were significant over seven years as CEO of the state Association. Along with expanding the organisation’s member services, his legacy projects include the amalgamation of the Victorian and South Australian divisions of the Association, the joint venture with ODMA to create O=MEGA, and the successful bid for the World Congress of Optometry to come to Australia.
A PROVEN LEADER
Kylie Harris, who was president of O/Vic when the Association advertised the role of CEO seven years ago (and is now Business Development Director at Nexus Hospitals), described Mr Haydon’s passion for the role from day one.
“If I had to narrow Pete down to one quality, it would be his passion to make a real difference in the world. Whilst on paper his formal leadership qualifications at the time (of applying for the role) were not compelling, he went to an enormous effort to find out as much as he could about the organisation and the sector, and he sold himself.
“He rang the recruiter and talked himself into an interview; after the interview, he rang me and insisted on a coffee. After an hour getting to know him a little, apart from proving to be interesting and articulate, I could see that he was also a person of great honesty, passion and integrity, and he was an active learner. So I brought him in for a second interview and he sold himself to everyone else as well.
“It was fortunate for Optometry Victoria that Pete believed us when we said we were a Board that was pushing for change to keep up with a sector that was rapidly changing, and that we could work together to develop goals that would improve efficiency, improve member services, and improve the organisation.”
Describing the amalgamation of the South Australian and Victorian Divisions, and the O=MEGA joint conference with ODMA as “his greatest achievements”, Ms Harris said, “Pete would never see these as his own achievements – he talks about them in terms of the hardworking teams behind them – the people involved and the Board that supported those teams – as well as the strong relationships built across often previously opposing sectors.
“Perhaps his biggest achievement is that he makes the people he works with feel really valued. Pete proves that when you have passion, integrity, a forward thinking mindset and the right support, you can instigate meaningful change. I think we would all like to see more leaders like that,” Ms Harris said.
Meeting Mr Haydon for the first time soon after he joined O/Vic, Finola Carey, CEO of ODMA said, “We very quickly discovered that despite our two Associations not always seeing eye to eye in the past, there was much we could achieve for optics by working together. As a result, the most important industry event, the biggest conference and eye care show in the southern hemisphere, O=MEGA, was born.”
Ms Carey said, “I would describe our relationship as highly professional and beneficial for everyone involved, especially the two professional groups we represent. We have never hesitated to share constructive criticism, and that has helped shape the direction of both ODMA and OVSA for the betterment of the entire industry.”
Mr Haydon was in the midst of the amalgamation of O/Vic and O/SA when Ms Brodie joined the organisation and first met with him. She described his innovative approach to delivering value to members.
“The overwhelming support from members for the merger and the seamless transition is testament to Pete’s ability to collaborate with diverse stakeholders and never lose sight of what is best for members. O=MEGA and winning the World Congress of Optometry bid highlights his ability to innovate,” she said.
“I remember the discussions that we had in early March 2020 when we were just getting a sense of the pandemic, though still some weeks away from lockdowns. We both realised the potential impact on members and their livelihoods and together we started to formulate a strategy that ultimately led to the 50% membership fee offer,” Ms Brodie said.
“Pete has always been single-minded in his focus to create exceptional value for his members and the year-on-year increase in the percentage of registered optometrists that are members of OV/SA is evidence of his success. We have had a fantastic working relationship, bringing different perspectives to the table but completely aligning on the fact that members come first and foremost.”
Elise Pocknee-Clem, current President of OV/SA, described Mr Haydon’s collaborative skills as one of his key strengths. “These have been to the benefit of Victorian and South Australian members, the communities which our members serve, but I would also like to recognise his collaborative efforts with our National Organisation (OA) and all Optometry Australia Divisions.
“I am personally very grateful to have worked with Pete and have enjoyed the collaboration, professionalism and support he has given me in my role as president of OV/SA,” she added.
The four women we spoke to were united in extending their best wishes to Mr Haydon, with Ms Brodie concluding, “I am very much going to miss Pete being part of the federation. On the flip side, I am absolutely delighted and excited he will be taking up the reins at the ACO. We have recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the ACO to explore collaborations and joint ventures to support and drive the progress the optometry profession.
“Pete is driven by his values and the ACO provides him with the opportunity to combine a passion for public good with his support and belief in the value of the optometry profession. I have no doubt this will ensure success.”