Mentees at the Chicago conference, including Melbourne optometrist Dr Phoebe Stanley (wearing red beads)
By Helen Carter
Dr Phoebe Stanley has participated in the International Women's Forum mentoring program of elite female athletes, which aims to nurture leadership and management skills acquired by athletes who have transitioned from a sporting career by matching them with prominent female leaders.
Dr Stanley’s mentor is New York University Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology, Dr Marguerite McDonald, an American eye surgery pioneer who performed the world’s first excimer laser treatment.
Dr Stanley, who started work as a graduate optometrist at OPSM Eye Hub Hawthorn in January, represented Australia in rowing at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and six times at multiple world championships and World Cup regattas, winning one gold and two bronze medals.
‘Dr McDonald has been a huge support and encourages me to push myself to achieve my goals within optometry,’ Dr Stanley said. ‘We Skype. I set an agenda and we discuss topics that I need or want advice on. The program allows eight mentoring sessions throughout the year and we have done half already.
‘She has also helped me by introducing me to other optometrists in Australia interested in sports vision, which has allowed me to discuss how we can increase awareness of sports vision training and its benefits to performance in Australia’s sporting teams. Dr McDonald has such a positive outlook on life and says you need to dream big and not be scared to go after your dreams,’ she said.
‘OPSM Eye Hub Hawthorn has been selected as the Victorian store to house a new E-Eye machine which uses intense regulated pulsed light (IRPL) to treat meibomian blepharitis. IRPL is more recent technology than IPL which has been in Australia for a year or so.’
Dr Stanley said Dr McDonald was ‘an incredible source of knowledge and advice,’ especially in the treatment of dry eye patients. ‘I am seeking advice from Dr McDonald about the best way to implement IRPL technology into the business,’ she said. ‘As an optometrist, I have the opportunity to learn from her immense experience in this area of ocular care. I look forward to learning more about the technology and being able to provide this speciality treatment to our customers.’
In 1987 Dr McDonald performed the first excimer laser treatment, in 1993 she became the first to use this treatment to treat hyperopia and in 2003, the first person in North America to perform epi-LASIK.
Dr McDonald conducted the first wavefront-based laser surgeries in the United States; she was a co-developer of Kaufman-McDonald epikeratophakia and was the inaugural female president of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery and the International Society of Refractive Surgery.
Dr McDonald is a member of the New York chapter of the International Women’s Forum. This year, the forum took on 20 mentees from across the world. Dr Stanley was among four Australians who flew to Chicago to attend the Deedee Corradini Leadership Roundtable on 26-30 September.
The Australians were selected because of their record of athletic and academic achievement and their goals to be impactful leaders. All four had competed at the top level of their chosen sports and were now trying to thrive in their business, study or entrepreneurial pursuits.
Dr Stanley said the Ernst and Young Women’s Athletes Business Network program organised by the forum had been an amazing experience that enabled her to expand her network, and interact and learn from women who had reached the pinnacle of their profession.
‘We learned about our individual strengths as leaders and how best to utilise them, skills on networking and the importance of putting together a board of advisors,’ Dr Stanley said.
‘We were advised to surround ourselves with people we can learn from and who will push us to achieve our potential. The experience has allowed me to identify the attributes I have from being an elite sportswomen and how to use them to also be successful and fulfilled in my work as an optometrist.
‘Being focused, organised and goal-orientated will allow me to strive towards providing consistent high levels of care and a unique customer experience for our patients.
‘My skills in communication and teamwork have meant that I have been able to fit into a team of optometrists and dispensers to achieve certain goals. I have learned that this is how I thrive, working alongside others as opposed to being on my own.
‘The experience has reminded me that it is okay to be different and that if I want to be successful in business, I need to be willing to put myself out there and be prepared to make mistakes,’ she said. ‘It has reaffirmed that if you are driven and organised you can achieve anything you put your mind to.’
International Women's Forum