Becoming a community leader

Dr Jennifer Fitzgerald

CEO Scope (Aust)
MBA graduate 2005

Dr Jennifer Fitzgerald is the CEO of Scope, which works to support over 6,000 Victorians living with disability. She has worked in the health, aged care, community and disability sectors throughout her career, as she says: “driving change and building inclusion give me immense personal satisfaction”. In 2016, in recognition of her dedication, she was named the Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year.

She enrolled in her MBA while working with Ballarat Health Services in 2002. Of the decision to study, she says: “I’ve always sought out learning and I’m a health scientist by profession, so I understood that I needed to complement life experience with a disciplined approach to ongoing learning.” In 2012 she returned to work at Scope, this time as the CEO.

Studying in Ballarat meant Dr Fitzgerald could enjoy a busy but balanced life: “I worked full time with four young children and my husband worked in Melbourne. But I could go to lectures after work, 4–8pm on a Wednesday, so the way it was constructed enabled me to study.”

The course itself has enriched her management and leadership style, and informed a wider world view: “The MBA program had a strong focus on group learning. This allowed me to work with a number of international students and facilitated cross-pollination of ideas and experiences.”

She sees Federation University MBA as the destination for the next generation of community leaders: “I would urge anyone who truly wants to develop themselves into leadership roles to undertake the program; it’s part of the journey and opens you up to new learning. For many people it gives them the confidence to step up. It certainly did that for me.”