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From Clinical to Corporate: How Katie Sherlock made the leap

Katie Sherlock had just started her career as a nurse when a car accident changed everything. With a nursing career ruled out, she joined the Bupa telehealth team and found a springboard to a career she never expected. Eleven years later, she draws on her clinician background to create strategy as General Manager for Healthcare Strategy and Telehealth Operations.

Here’s Katie’s story:

I never dreamt I’d have a corporate career.

I started my career as a registered nurse in a Melbourne hospital. But one day, everything changed in a way I could never have predicted.

On the way to work, I had a bad car accident that seriously injured my back. After that, I knew I couldn’t continue working in nursing; it was just too physical.

I had a moment of internal reflection, “What am I going to do now?!” There were very few non-patient-facing roles for early career nurses – they tend to be more management roles – and I didn’t want to return to uni so soon.

But with every dark cloud comes a silver lining. I stumbled across a telehealth role at Bupa and grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

As a nurse health coach in telehealth, I worked with Bupa customers over a six-month period, coaching them towards their health goals through behavioural and lifestyle changes. It was rewarding to educate and empower them and go along the journey with them.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without Bupa.

If it weren’t for Bupa giving me opportunities through secondments and upskilling, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

I put my hand up to take on different roles in telehealth, such as helping with rostering, mentoring other health coaches, and supporting the team leaders.

Then I had an opportunity to take a secondment in an operations support role. It was my first real taste of corporate, and I learnt a phenomenal amount.

That’s when I realised I wanted to do something bigger.

Suddenly I was involved in meetings where they talked about commercial things that I didn’t understand. So I decided to grow my skills with a Graduate Certificate in Business Management, then an MBA.

My leaders at Bupa were incredibly supportive, giving me study days when needed. Meanwhile, I was building the skills to transition into a different, more corporate role.


I took some time out – then Bupa called me back with an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.

I left my Bupa role in Sydney to move back to Melbourne for personal reasons. It was bittersweet. I loved the organisation, but at the same time, it was a great learning opportunity for me to step out and grow.

Then in January 2022, Bupa gave me an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

As Head of Healthcare Strategy, I would establish a dedicated team of clinicians responsible for setting the healthcare strategy for the health insurance business.

That doesn’t often happen in your career: to get the chance to pick your own team from scratch and write your playbook in terms of the impact you want to have.

It was exactly what I’d been working towards.

Working on strategy means I can make an impact on a bigger scale.

No matter what role I’m in, I need to have a clear alignment to impact. It’s the clinician in me!

In a hospital, the patients are right in front of you, so you get to see the immediate impact that you're making one on one. But now, moving from clinical to corporate, I feel like my impact is on a much bigger scale.

And the great thing is that I get the best of both worlds. Because I also now lead the telehealth team – the very same one I started in – I can see our direct and immediate impact on customers. This brings me immense satisfaction at the end of each day.

My experience and knowledge is valued, and that makes all the difference.

As I grow into my role, I am seeing the importance of my clinical experience to influence key strategic decisions at a senior level.

Most importantly, my opinion is valued. Everyone has been in those situations where you aren’t taken seriously, or your opinion is brushed aside. But I’ve never experienced that at Bupa. There’s always an openness and willingness to hear what I have to say – especially from the leadership team. They are hungry for clinical information and experience, and that makes me feel appreciated.

Our shared purpose is the biggest perk of all.

Making a transition from a clinical role into the corporate world has its perks, some I never expected. Bupa offers many benefits to our employees so no matter the role, everyone will find themselves supported.

Something that is essential to me is our shared purpose. It’s a true driver to work in an organisation where I come in every day and feel like I’m making a difference. It doesn’t feel like work.

At Bupa, our desire is to be a healthcare partner for customers, which sounds good on paper. But what I love is that we’re really making it happen. It’s an exciting time to be working at Bupa.

I want to help more clinicians take the leap.

I’d love to see more clinicians in strategy roles. Anyone who makes the jump from the hospital bedside brings a unique set of skills and experiences to the table. I take a special interest in clinicians who want to make that leap to corporate.

I feel very lucky to have had incredible support from Bupa along my journey – I wouldn’t be where I am without it. So now I want to give back by supporting and mentoring people in the same position I was in.

My advice? Don’t hesitate to put your hand up, even if it’s your first corporate role.

The accident forced my hand – I don’t think I’d have had the guts to move out of nursing otherwise. I’m proud that I could turn the dark moment not only into a job, but into a fulfilling career where I can keep stepping up.

Join us and be at the heart of it.

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