Fiona Webster appointed permanent CEO of Lort Smith

We’re excited to announce that Fiona Webster has been appointed to the ongoing role of Lort Smith CEO, taking on the permanent position following a three-month period as interim CEO.

Lort Smith President Barbara Pesel said it was important for the Board to appoint a candidate who demonstrates strong leadership and interpersonal skills, has an understanding of complex capital developments and a commitment to the mission, vision and history of Lort Smith.

“Without a doubt, Fiona meets all of these criteria and many more,” she said.

“She has exceptional health industry experience and knowledge and will bring a fresh outlook to Lort Smith’s operations – now, and into the future.”

“We look forward to working with her as Lort Smith continues to provide quality, affordable healthcare to companion animals and protecting the human-animal bond while increasing our range of specialised services, growing the skills of our workforce and further developing our facilities,” Barbara said.

The Board undertook a thorough national search and rigorous recruitment process, which identified a strong field of potential candidates – with Fiona ultimately proving to be the ideal selection.

“I was not originally planning to apply for the ongoing CEO position,” she said.

“But once I begun to spend time with the dedicated vets, nurses and other Lort Smith team members, I realised that the opportunity to stay on was too good to pass-up.”

“There are so many exciting opportunities for Lort Smith and I can’t wait to get started,” Fiona said.

Fiona has more than 10 years’ executive leadership experience in public and private hospitals, where there are significant similarities to animal healthcare.

Her experience includes:

  • Executive roles in two major Melbourne metropolitan health services, senior roles within the Victorian Health Department and the UK’s National Health Service
  • Partnering with clinicians to develop service models, quality and risk management systems
  • Skills in health service planning, strategic planning and health policy including leading, developing, consulting and writing strategic plans for a number of health services
  • Executive leadership in the implementation of significant clinical IT projects
  • Leadership of building projects including chairing the Project Control Group for the Austin Health Surgery Centre, ICU and Emergency Department expansions and membership of the Olivia Newton John Cancer and Wellness Centre PCG ($110m).

Prior to stepping into the interim CEO role, Fiona had been on the Lort Smith board for the nearly two years, where she was able to apply her understanding of hospital operations to how we provide high quality care to companion animals.

Fiona’s connection with Lort Smith goes back to childhood when her very first cat (named Puss) was brought to the hospital to be treated, more than forty years ago. Her current cat is a tortoise shell named Cookie who has the whole family wrapped around her little white paw.