Where are you from?
Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
What’s your background?
I was brought up in in Rockhampton so I have the essence of regional and I was also brought up in a large family of six children. And the essence of that was that we always had a family meal every night and that’s when the conversations happened.
And I guess I’ve brought that forward into my life as an adult with a family myself. And that seems to be a good way to talk things over at dinner time.
I mean, it’s a good thing to have when the children are young and then you watch them and then they move out of home and then they do it themselves, right, or they do it with their flatmates and you know they’ll have dinners. Yeah, things like that and it’s in these days of social media and people being unable to communicate because they’re communicating through devices, it’s a check point for people to actually learn how to communicate. And I guess not everyone has that these days. So I feel very lucky in that respect.
What’s important to you and your life?
I think the most important thing to me, no matter what, is my family and the support that I have around me because when everything is difficult, if you don’t have that it’s even more difficult. And it allows you to be stronger sometimes.
Look, I mean, it’s been very tough being a startup and we’ve had a number of setbacks so when you get together with one of the family and they say “oh you know, look, you’re doing well Mum,” I think that at least helps.
I also, to give myself strength on the weekend, try to get away and go to the beach and have a surf. I’m lucky enough to surf also with my husband and that also gives me strength to continue.
I think it’s very grounding. And also, it’s going back to, I guess, my regional heritage where you go to the beach and most of the time it’s regional or country people, they’re absorbing the basics of life which are the sun, the water and conversations.
What specific experiences have shaped your view?
A key mentor in my life was my auntie. And she’s actually a Nun, Sister Regis Mary believe it or not, but she was a bioethicist and the first person to discover connecting up a TV so she could study chromosomes more closely.
So she was a geneticist and she actually received an Order of Australia for her study in that and not only that, her ability to support people in diverse situations. Even though she was a nun, the story she would say where she would have people that worked for her that wewre unmarried and she allowed them to bring their kids into work and you know those things.
There’s still a problem now that people don’t consider those things, so I think she was ahead of her time in the 60s.
And so I think that’s the essence of comparing something, what I do in my my startup career and my life and my employment situation and the things that I think about.
Well I guess for me I also like to stand up for people that haven’t got everything and that’s what I’m trying to achieve with Wanngi.
So two years ago I started that journey because I saw everyone else has got access to your health information. It’s still the case now, by the way. People’s health data is everywhere — at hospitals, child care, schools — and yet people don’t have access to it.
And so, therefore, they aren’t able to use it to help themselves get better diagnosed or to manage their health. And so, that’s what keeps me going, thinking ‘well this could be a game changer for some people.’
Has anyone ever asked you this question before?
I think about it because I get annoyed at myself when I work and am working too much. And I go home and I’ve got a lot to do. And I never used to do that.
I used to go home from work and then I’d be able to have dinner and then just watch TV and do random stuff. Whereas, now, and this upsets my family, I have other obligations and I do think about that and I would like to get back to being free with my time because things break down when you don’t do that.
Maree is the founder of Wanngi.