Love Ageing

Norah Barlow hands over leadership of Estia 18 months ahead of schedule

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The Estia CEO had given herself three years to stabilise the troubled aged care operator when she stepped in to replace Paul Gregersen when he abruptly resigned in September 2016.

Barlow had been recently appointed non-executive director but came from a stellar career building Summerset villages in NZ to the No. 2 operator.

Estia at that time had fallen out of love on the ASX and was plagued by a dysfunctional back office, the result of rapid growth through acquisition with incompatible systems and cultures.

Estia chairman Gary Weiss describes Barlow’s leadership as ‘transformative’, with the company now stable across every metric.

Barlow says the biggest change they made was turning the clock back from centralised management, and terms like ‘agile’ and ‘scrum’.

Introducing quarterly reporting by each nursing home was significant. To make this possible “we put back in middle management and recognised the uniqueness of each home. This allowed them to see competition coming into the area (for instance)”.

Barlow is returning to her home country New Zealand. She tells us she is likely to be staying in the ageing sector. “It gets in your blood and is full of really good people. There isn’t a sector like it – I don’t see many egos”.

She quite likes the idea of another leadership role in a business in crisis. “I’ve got the hunger for it back. Maybe I am a crisis manager”.

Estia COO and Deputy CEO Ian Thorley will transition to CEO. His role will be taken by Sean Bilton who moves from Opal Aged Care where he is Acting Managing Director.

Norah Barlow will depart Estia in November.

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