AUSTRALIA’s leading brain cancer charity, the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, is leading the charge to support women and their leadership aspirations.
The Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s leadership team is currently all women whilst the organisation is also made-up of 83 per cent women.
The Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is an Australian-based organisation working globally to rapidly improve brain cancer survival.
The foundation’s mission is to unite the community and rapidly increase brain cancer survival, improving the quality of life for people impacted by the disease, with a vision to ultimately find a cure for brain cancer.
Over the past year, since Mr Lance Kawaguchi has taken over as Chief Executive Officer of the charity, there has been an incredible investment and development of female staff into key leadership roles.
Ms Stephanie Quattromani, Director of Research and Investments & Chief of Staff believes that she has been empowered to follow her dreams of becoming a leader in brain cancer research.
“If I’m being really honest, I never actually planned on being at this foundation for this long,” Stephanie said.
“I started at the foundation as a researcher shortly after completing my bachelor’s degree.
“I was really fortunate to be accepted into a master’s degree a year in and the foundation was really supportive as they allowed me to do my role part-time when I completed my studies, which was fantastic.
“Halfway through my course I was promoted into a manager’s position, which was incredible, and I was really grateful for the opportunity to step up rather than having to seek opportunities elsewhere.
“I was empowered in my own role to take that on, which was great,” Stephanie added.
“When I finished my master’s degree, I had trained in a specialised field in genetics, and I had a clinical position lined up and I was planning to leave but when we got our new CEO at the end of 2020, he had an amazing vision for the foundation.
“I changed my mind and decided to stick it out and see what the foundation could achieve and I’m so glad that I did.
“After my master’s degree, I was promoted into the role of Research and Investment Director, and a few months later the Chief of Staff role as well. That was incredible and very humbling.
“I was encouraged by the CEO to go for the role.
“He said it didn’t matter in regards to age or gender, you can actually step up into this role. I’m so glad that I did. I feel really fortunate to have that support and mentorship to allow me to succeed in this role,” Stephanie added.
The charity also believes that more organisations need to encourage flexible working arrangements for all staff, including creating a supportive environment for working mothers so they can comfortably manage their work and family lives.
“Certainly since the pandemic, we’ve switched to flexible working.
“At first, that was out of necessity, but when we got our new CEO, we came together as a team and realised we all benefited from working from home.
“It went from being a necessity due to the pandemic to a beneficial flexible working arrangement which has made a momentous difference in terms of staff morale and a healthy work/life balance.
“In terms of flexibility, you can still take your child to school or to the doctors. Flexible working arrangements coupled with working from home has really made a tremendous difference for the staff at the foundation,” Ms Quattromani added.
“Due to our hybrid module, we’ve been able to recruit staff members from other states. That’s been amazing.
“We’ve been able to expand our national presence. As a charity, reducing expenses is incredibly important. You want to maximise every dollar so if you don’t need the office space that’s even better,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie has been particularly proud of the foundation’s achievements in the last twelve months.
“We’ve had so much growth,” Stephanie said.
“We’ve committed $11 million to brain cancer research in nine months. That’s more than what we’ve committed in the past five years of the foundation,” Stephanie added.
After losing her grandmother to brain cancer when she was very young, she is now inspired by the GBM AGILE, a revolutionary clinical trial that the foundation has committed $8 million towards.
“It’s a new way of conducting clinical trials that evaluate drugs very quickly to find effective therapies for glioblastoma which is the most common and primary brain cancer in adults,” Stephanie added.
“This trial has been open in the US and Europe, and we have strived for many years to bring it to Australia and that is finally becoming a reality.
“We’ve committed $8 million – the foundation’s largest single investment – to bring the trial here with plans on treating the first patients by the end of the year.
“We’re hoping that there will be three new experimental treatments that will be available to Australians for the first time which we are so excited about,” Stephanie continued.
On how other charities and organisations can further support women in the workplace, Stephanie said: “I think the best way to do that is to allow for equal opportunities.
“I think an organisation really has to make sure that regardless of gender and age, everyone is allowed the opportunity to step up in their roles and provide the culture where that is actually acceptable and encouraged.”
May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month.
Help up to 50 patients with GBM per year, access new, potentially beneficial therapies through GBM AGILE: https://gbmagile.curebraincancer.org.au/