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University of Western Australia
Jonathan studied Bachelor of Commerce & Bachelor of Economics at University of Western Australia
What's your job about?
My employer (WA Department of Health) is responsible for optimising health outcomes for all Western Australians. This involves managing public health policy and strategies, and the provision of high quality public healthcare in metropolitan, rural and remote areas. My role within the organisation is to assist in the management of the roughly $9billion budget, ensuring optimum care is provided with the best possible value.
Specialising in business cases, I assist in the formation of major business proposals which are submitted to cabinet for approval. These proposals seek funding for major improvement projects and initiatives including new hospitals, upgrades to existing hospitals, resource reallocations, information technology upgrades, specialised health programs and other public health initiatives. In order to assess these proposals, I undertake significant financial, operational and economic analysis which is then used to provide justification for and inform the business cases. Most of my time is spent analysing cost models in excel, writing up proposals or policy, providing advice and feedback, and strategizing with stakeholders.
What's your background?
Born and raised in Perth, I spent large chunks of my childhood in different rural communities where my mother acted as a rural GP specialist. This upbringing gave me significant exposure to health, specifically rural health and opened my eyes from a young age to the disadvantage faced in certain rural areas, especially amongst the local aboriginal populations. Whilst the prospect of becoming a clinician never appealed to me, the exposure I received as a child left me with an underlying passion for health and aboriginal health.
After enjoying economics at school, I decided to continue my study at a tertiary level by completing a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Economics by way of a double degree at the University of Western Australia. It was here that my passion in finance and economics really expanded. Upon finishing my studies, I sought employment opportunities where I could practice economics, and when I discovered there was a finance graduate program on offer with the WA Department of Health I saw it as a fantastic opportunity to combine two areas of significant interest. Over the course of my studies I was lucky enough to have been working in the health industry, and I believe this was extremely helpful in getting me through the competitive process and into the program. Fast forward two years and I have already begun progressing through the organisation and am looking at ways to take my career further and inspire positive change within health.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes. I don’t see any reason why a highly motivated, mathematically minded, and intelligent individual from a non-financial background wouldn’t be capable of fulfilling my role in at least an adequate capacity. I think the quality of advice provided would suffer if the candidate had no background in finance or economics, however, if they were a quick learner with strong analytical and writing skills, high emotional intelligence, and an ability to learn Microsoft Excel, they could grow into the role in a relatively short period of time.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
One of the coolest things about my job is working on major projects or issues which are making the news on an almost daily basis. Even better than that though is the feeling when a major proposal I’ve contributed to, that I know is going to seriously help improve the livelihood of patients or save lives, gets accepted. The satisfaction of knowing I’ve helped improve the lives of many is pretty hard to beat for an idealistic public servant such as myself.
What are the limitations of your job?
The organisation I work for is the biggest employer within the state, but it only operates within Western Australia. This means that there are few opportunities outside WA with my current employer and if I ever wanted to make a shift I would need to leave my organisation. In addition to this, whilst the remuneration is extremely competitive when compared to private industry at lower levels the wages are quite flat meaning that even if I do manage to climb significantly through the organisation it’s unlikely I will be able to afford both a yacht and smashed avocado breakfast.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
- Travel more and enjoy the extra time off you have at university. Go on exchange or do something interesting, it’s more difficult to do something like that once you start work and only get 4-5 weeks off a year. Work more at your part-time job if you need to, it will be worth it!
- Try harder at university and participate fully, a time will come when you miss those late nights up in the library studying, finishing off an assignment or the classroom. Not only will you look back at those times fondly but those late nights studying will help give you the knowledge and marks you need to land a great job.
- Put a bunch of cash on Leicester to win the 2016 EPL – no explanation needed.