Growing up in a country town in Central Otago on a small farm where we had a huge vege garden, an orchard, chickens and a few farm animals, my interest in food started young. With a French father a love of good cheese, bread and later on good wine was a given.
I completed a nutrition degree in Dunedin New Zealand straight out of school, and dietetics diploma in Christchurch and started my career as a Clinical Dietitian at the Christchurch Women’s Hospital. After 5 years I wanted to see what else I was capable of, and I knew it would involve a move. The thought of living and working in Australia was quite appealing so I focused my applications there, resulting in my current position as Account Specialist for Nestlé Health Science in South Australia. The role was going to be different of course, but I still wanted to keep my finger on the clinical pulse. It turned out this role was just what I needed.
Tell me a little bit about your job and/or describe a typical day for you?
My job is very autonomous and most days are my own to plan. Appealing to my desire to see more of Australia, my role conveniently includes working in Tasmania, a stunning part of the world. I’m there about 5 times a year. My typical day involves visiting customers, usually Dietitians, Speechies and Paediatricians, to let them know about a new product or service, to discuss clinical applications and at other times working with them to assist with making what they are currently using work even better. The bottom line is finding the best possible outcome for the patient.
About once a month I’ll be travelling interstate, usually 2-5 days at a time, whether visiting customers out of town, Tasmania or meeting with the team at Melbourne Head Office or attending a conference for professional development. The role is really independent and can be likened to running your own small business, but with the support of a really great team!
What do you most enjoy about your role?
I get the best of both worlds with this role. Not only do I gain skills and experience of the business world, the opportunities for clinical learning and development are even higher than when I was working clinically.
While I am not seeing patients directly, I have gained clarity around other systems integral to dietetics – supply and distribution, product development and use, what research and products are available from an international perspective. With clinical and industry experience combined I have gained a much broader view on where everything fits and how it works together when it comes to clinical nutrition.
Tell me a little bit about your career in dietetics thus far and/or why did you choose dietetics as a career?
I have always been fascinated with food and the complex interactions that go on with nutrients in the body as well as the power we have to alter our health, both body and mind by how we eat. As a Clinical Dietitian I worked in the areas of weight management, malnutrition and gestational diabetes as well as other nutritional issues in pregnancy. My inpatient work was mainly with post-partum nutrition, Oncology and, my favourite – neonatal support. I implemented malnutrition screening and use of the SGA and was involved with Australasian wide studies.
The highlights in my career so far have been in resolving complex nutritional challenges and implementing the type of change that makes a positive difference, whether to an individual or at an organisational level.
What would be your number one tip to someone starting their career in dietetics?
Keep all of your options open and try new things. I do believe clinical experience is very valuable however once this is under your belt, don’t let anyone put you in a box. Expand your horizons and you may be pleasantly surprised. Working as a Dietitian in industry has certainly done this for me.
What is one interesting fact about you?
I have been a dancer in four Bollywood movies shot in New Zealand! An adventure on so many levels!