Dr Martin Timchur is the Co-Founder and CEO of Esencia Healthcare, one of Australia’s newest and most exciting disruptor in the Allied Health Sector.
Balance the Grind spoke to Martin about his extensive background in the healthcare industry, typical day in the life of a CEO, reverse Parkinson’s law, snowboarding to recharge and plenty more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
I began my career with BHP Coal Australia as a graduate Health and Safety Advisor after completing my first degree in occupational health.
I then studied post-graduate engineering in Risk Management and became a risk analyst for BHP before deciding on a career change in health.
I was debating whether or not to pursue Medicine or Physiotherapy and always had an interest in human movement.
After speaking to several people, I decided to study chiropractic which seemed to cover much of the same anatomy, physiology orthopaedics and general diagnosis.
In 1999 I moved to the UK to study chiropractic at the AECC before returning to Sydney to complete my Masters in Chiropractic.
Following that I worked for a chiropractor in Sydney with a focus in sports medicine and was a sessional lecturer at Macquarie University in biomechanics and orthopaedics.
Over the following years I completed another Masters of Applied Science in Medical Image Interpretation where I realised my real passion for diagnostic imaging and subsequently moved once again to the UK to study a full time radiology residency at South Wales University and began a PhD in orthopaedic diagnostic imaging of the hip.
I was also appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Diagnostic Imaging and a Senior Clinical Supervisor at the same University.
During this time I began publishing articles for peer-reviewed journals in the area of radiology. I also started a chiropractic practice in the UK and sold to an associate before moving back to Australia.
In 2007, I returned to Australia and began reporting chiropractic studies for a local Medical Imaging centre and founded Professional Radiology Outcomes (PRO) with my business partner who had a business background with an interest in investing in emerging health and food markets.
Together, we built the business to become the World’s largest tele-radiology reporting company for the chiropractic profession, which has since expanded to report in multiple Countries in Chiropractic, Dental and general Medical Imaging.
Whilst building PRO, I worked as a chiropractor in practice whilst flying to NZ weekly as a Senior Lecturer in Radiology.
More recently, I was appointed as a full-time Senior Lecturer at Central Queensland University and stood down in January this year to allow me to take on the demanding role as CEO of Esencia Healthcare.
In June last year Strategic Equity Alliance approached me for the role of COO and after working to build the Allied Health business and prepare it for IPO, I was appointed at the CEO to take the project forward to IPO and beyond.
In recent years, I have also invested in a number of health and health IT start-ups with a desire to contribute and find innovative solutions to problems that exist within the Health Sector.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
My current role is the CEO of Esencia Healthcare.
This has been a steep learning curve whilst being incredibly demanding and exciting at the same time.
The role entails a wide variety of tasks that are not often seen in most operational roles.
The listing and aggregation space is a complex and rare beast which requires an ability to create a vision for a future organisation, attract the right professionals and businesses who align with the overall vision, execute the legal contracts and keep the vendors engaged and motivated.
In the pre-IPO timeline we need to firstly build the right acquisitions to a point that all transactions are complete.
This take a team of people to analyse and value businesses, generate legal contracts, perform legal, operational and financial due diligence, negotiate and settle on deals.
Once this is complete, we shift focus to the financial auditing and IAR whilst preparing a pathway prospectus to list.
In order to achieve these highly detailed and complex tasks, we must consider what the business will look like post-list and establish all cost synergies, financial and other IT reporting and integration, growth strategies and fully investigate a range of opportunities.
We also need to build a management team to support the business and deliver on objectives post-IPO and create a strategic plan for the future. All whilst continuing to manage our team of professionals and businesses.
Over the entire process we work with Brokers and Family Offices to create awareness of the project and fund the project from infancy through the expensive audit process and finally for the IPO raise, which in our case we expect to be around $55 million.
Fortunately, I have been incredibly well supported by Glenn and Clinton Gaudet of Strategic Equity Alliance and Glenn’s team of experts who have been through this process 9 times now. Their leadership and direction is what makes these amazing opportunities possible.
They have truly reshaped the landscape of a number of industries through the aggregation and listing process. A great example is Greencross Vets which they did as far back as the early 2000’s.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Each day presents a multitude of complex situations and decision making that varies in topic from minute to minute, switching between strategic planning, financial forecasts, growth opportunities, operational management, clinical matters with vendors, risk and compliance, legal contracts, due diligence, auditing and presentations to brokers.
The role requires an absolute commitment to the process whilst not losing sight of the overall vision and mission in front of us. Most days usually consist of an early rise before the phone starts ringing.
I begin with phone calls in the car, before attending to the days meetings which last anywhere from 3-8 hours. Averaging 30+ calls per day and over 100 emails from people all requiring an urgent answer, time is very precious and needs to be well managed.
Often I will only make it back to the hotel room at around 11:30pm before starting to review the emails and listening to the missed call messages.
Last weekend I only arrived home Saturday afternoon and was able to enjoy 2-3 hours with the family before another meeting started at 5:30pm and went until 9:30pm.
The next day (Sunday) I was in a strategic planning meeting from 9:0am to 4:00pm before we visited a site for an IT integration assessment.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you prioritise your workload?
I am a strong advocate for abiding by the reverse Parkinson’s law. Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands as to fill the time available for its completion.”
By this principle, the reverse is equally true. A task will only take as long as the time you have available to complete it.
If you need to write a proposal and you have a week to complete it, it will take a week to complete. If the same proposal is due tomorrow, it will take one night to write.
From that perspective, I will prioritise my work according to the next, most urgent item on the list. Whilst to some people, the workload might appear as multitasking, I only ever focus on one task at a time, but I give it my full attention for the duration of the task.
I also build things around time-dependent tasks. For example, if I one of my children have a gymnastic tournament or dance performance on Sunday from 2-6pm, that time is booked out.
If there is other work to do, those tasks are still completed, just outside of the time-dependent activities. Sometimes it means working early in the morning and other times late at night.
5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
Fortunately for me, I love what I do.
By getting enjoyment from the work, a break is not required, or at least it has never been required for me. I also know that things that aren’t completed by 6pm will not be required until at least 9:00am the following day.
Therefore, I take time in the evenings to spend with my children, usually driving them to and from sport or helping with their homework, reading a book or singing a song to get them to sleep.
I then retire to my office each night at 8:00pm and work until very late. I have always worked well into the evenings all my life and for any job. It is just something I prefer to do, rather than sit in front of a television.
This has enabled me to hold multiple jobs, starts more businesses and study more degrees whilst others settle down and relax. In fact, I would have spent more time working in half of my work life than most people in their entire careers.
I am frequently asked how I have managed to do so many things over my life and simultaneously, and this is how I do it.
One will always do the necessary things to be able to spend time doing the things one enjoys. We are all the same in this regard. If you are busy and you have many things to do each day, you need to complete each task in the shortest possible time.
In order to do this, give each task your full attention, do it well and move on. I think of a child who needs to brush her teeth at night and can take 10 minutes to do the job, sometimes needing to go back two or three times because it wasn’t done properly the first time.
They are rushing to get back to the TV for 5 more minutes before bed. In fact, it takes them 10 minutes, they don’t get to watch any more TV and they are now late for bed.
By giving the task their full attention, they would have done a better job in 2 minutes and had more time to enjoy doing the things they want.
For me, I give my full attention to the job in order to have that time with the family.
Finally, my responsibilities in my life are shared with my partner. My wife and I function as a formidable team and she is equally responsible for our position as I am. As for most situations, a combined effort will usually result in a better outcome than multiple individual efforts. Ie. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?
I have only had two holidays in 15 years because I don’t ever feel a need to recharge. I have just never been one to want to take 3 weeks off to sit at a resort.
For me, almost 100% of my time-out from work is spent with my family. My wife and I have 3 children who each excel in academics and sporting endeavours with activities 6-7 days per week.
My recharging occurs when I am with them, because they give me the foundational reasoning behind my work and desire for success. It’s pretty easy to succeed when you have a driving force that inspires and motivates you to the n’th degree.
One thing I do try to make time for each year is snowboarding. I usually snowboard in Japan every February as a boys trip, and then spend a weekend in Falls Creek or Queenstown with my wife and schedule another ski-trip with the kids in either Australia or Canada/USA every year.
7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
For success, I only ever have a Plan A. I believe if you prepare a plan B, you have already given up on plan A.
Although the plan needs to be about an outcome or goal, rather than how you achieve it. Being able to assess a situation, pivot, refocus and continue, merely forms part of an evolving plan.
The ability to be fluid and dynamic is half of the equation with the other half made up of an open mind (for innovation), combined with an inexorable dedication and commitment to the goal.
The balance is all about ‘the why’. What is the greater purpose of the pursuit? Every pursuit, if examined deeply enough will come back to your values, your philosophy and your purpose. Some might think of this as ones legacy.
8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?
I don’t really think about a work-life balance.
There is just life. We all have 24 hours in each day, it just comes down to how you use it. Do what you love to do, but do it for a reason. Find your purpose, know what drives you, stay true to your values and no matter what, it is going to be a great life.
In terms of books that have had an effect on how I view life, I think The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss can help a lot of people to change their life direction, as well as one of the classics, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey.
Although the first book I can recall ever reading that began a shift in my mindset was The Road Less Travelled by M.Scott Peck, which I first read as a teenager. To me, a work-life balance is just about how you utilise your time.
9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Have a list of what needs to be done the next day, plan it out the night before and hit the ground running! I do this everyday.
Even if the unexpected pops up, I still know what needs to be completed before going to sleep. Try not to put anything on the list that can wait another day.
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