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Judy Harbison: Mentors offer a wealth of knowledge

Judy Harbison has been a veterinarian for 26 years and now has an interest in seven practices across Brisbane. She completed an MBA in 2013, but joined IML’s mentoring program to gain some guidance about the next stage of her business. Her mentor, Ashwin Hurribunce, first trained as a radiologist in South Africa and is now a management consultant and owner of professional services company Deftologix. He helped her to see the bigger business picture while she helped him to put down roots in a new home.

Why did you join IML’s mentor program?

Judy Harbison:  I have got my business to the stage where I need to decide whether to make it bigger or to keep it as it is. I felt that I needed some input from people outside of the industry to help guide me. So I decided to access IML’s mentoring program.

Ashwin Hurribunce:  I have been a mentor many times. The opportunity for learning is immense. I only relocated to Australia from South Africa about a year ago. Australia has become my new home now, so being part of the mentoring program also allowed me to feel both professionally and culturally settled.

What did you get out of the program?

JH:  What has been useful is that Ashwin thinks in a much bigger picture than I would in terms of small businesses. So I guess he has helped me to think of my business in a bigger way. Also, the issues that I have in my business would not be dissimilar to the issues that other businesses experience, so the techniques that work in some industries may be applicable in other industries and I think that’s useful to understand.

AH:  I have found that my learning, as a mentor, has grown exponentially in the past few years. It helps you to get a sense of the world around you through someone else’s eyes. There’s a wealth of insights that I have gleaned and it’s such an enriching experience. I feel that I am being tutored while I provide guidance.

I think it’s crazy not to access the wealth of knowledge that some of these guys have got.

What have you learned from each other?

JH:  Ashwin encouraged me to think more broadly. His background was in human radiology, so we could extrapolate experiences he had had in human medicine versus veterinary medicine. There are a lot of similarities and a lot of differences, largely around funding. He also led me to do some reading that I may not otherwise have stumbled across.

AH:  Apart from the social aspects, I found the perspectives that Judy had to be quite refreshing – notwithstanding the fact that she is a person dealing with the health of pets and I once dealt with the health of people. I learned that in her animal-health profession, it was really no different ethically to how I would deal with human health.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining the IML Mentor Program?

JH:  Definitely do it. I’d put my hand up again. I think it’s crazy not to access the wealth of knowledge that some of these guys have got.

AH:  Absolutely!



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