February 11, 2019

Get to know: Q&A with Colin Woodward

Get to know: Q&A with… is a new series of Northern Health staff profiles, where we talk about working at Northern, hobbies, personal interests and fun things!

The first staff member we’ve interviewed is Colin Woodward. Get to know him:

  • What is your coffee order?

I prefer instant coffee.

  • Tell us about your Northern Health journey? 

I started at Northern Health almost 11 years ago. Prior to this, I was working in the private health sector as a Facilities Manager for Villa Maria Disability Services.

Being a Wallan resident, I wanted something closer to home and applied for a role at Northern Health that was being advertised. I didn’t get it!

But, I did get a request to speak with the Executive Director of Corporate Services at the time, where he told me that they actually had another job for me, as the Senior Maintenance Engineer.

Northern Health Engineering & Building Services department was just established. It was a tumultuous time and I eventually moved into the role of Director of Engineering around May 2010. When I first arrived, the engineering team was small. There was only 5 people. Today, we have 23 full time employees. We brought a lot of services in-house and in doing so, created significant savings financially.

It’s been a challenging time and now we are looking at another period of growth and development. This is pretty exciting!

  • Can you tell us a bit about your career before starting at Northern?

I started as an apprentice plumber and gasfitter at the Greenvale Centre. This facility has since closed down and transferred its services to the Broadmeadows Hospital. My working journey has seen service at Western General Sunshine, Mount Royal, The Royal Melbourne, Royal Children’s Hospital and Thomas Embling Hospital.

While I was working full time, I was also serving in the Australian Army. I was only 16 when I enlisted and have had a colourful 26 year long career.

The high pressure environments that I was exposed to and the skills learnt in the army have equipped me to deal with the work I do today, especially in a growing, complex environment like Northern Health.

  • What do you like most about your role and what do you find most challenging?

I enjoy the challenges of maintaining and developing the Northern Health environment, in particular, delivering on time and within budget. The biggest challenge is finding enough time in a day to deliver.

  • What is your greatest achievement since working here?

I am proud of the number of tasks we in Engineering have completed in very short time frames and budgets. We have delivered great outcomes for the organisation and the community.

If I look back at the past 11 years, my biggest achievement is survival!

  • What are the things people usually don’t know about you?

A lot of people don’t know about my military background.

The passion for military came from my father, who was drafted back in the 1960s and went to Vietnam in 1966. All of his three sons – my two brothers and I joined the army. My sister married a soldier as well. The whole family gravitated towards the military because of my dad.

The funniest part was that he never wanted any of his kids to join, but we still did.

There is also a story behind my father’s military service. There were three mates that deployed to Vietnam – my father and two friends. The two mates who served with my father were called Tony and Brian.

My dad’s three sons are called Colin, Tony and Brian. My father’s name was Colin, so was my grandfather’s. Nobody actually realised that until my father passed away in 1999.

My experience within the healthcare industry might be another thing not many people know. I have held a Board position with Plenty Valley Community Health – DPV Health, and I only stepped off the Board last year.

From Colin’s days in military
  • What do you like to do after work?

I spend far too much time at work, but when possible, I can be found landscaping around our family home in Wallan with my wife. I have three children, a 25 year old daughter, a 22 year old son and a 17 year old son. My family and I like to go kayaking.

  • How would you describe Northern Health in one sentence?

Northern Health is an agile organisation striving to meet the acute and sub-acute demands of the community utilising all its assets and resources.

  • Who would you nominate next for a staff profile?

I would recommend Shiraz Lubke from Northern Pathology Victoria. She was part of the pivotal lead that saw the pathology service become in-house. She is very approachable and focussed on the needs of the organisation – I am sure she has a great story to tell!