Ms Felicity Topp

Felicity Topp began her career in healthcare more than 35 years ago, and describes her professional achievements as exceeding all expectations. She admits high school was a struggle, and says if not for some dedicated teachers who could see beyond her rebellious nature, she wouldn’t have embarked on a tertiary education journey that’s spanned many years.

Felicity was among the first nursing graduates to gain a Diploma in Applied Science in Nursing from Lincoln Institute, rather than undertaking her nursing training through the more traditional hospital-based program.

After completing her critical care nursing qualification at Royal Melbourne Hospital in the early 1990s, Felicity travelled to Saudi Arabia, just after the Gulf War, to work as a manager in an intensive care unit at one of the large hospitals on the east coast. While there, she undertook a degree course in nursing via correspondence. Such courses were new at the time, and being pre-email and internet, course materials and assignments were posted, and contact with lecturers was through long-distance landline calls. It was made all the more challenging if course materials were censored through the Saudi postal system.

Returning to Australia in the late ’90s, Felicity started work as a clinical nurse consultant in the ICU at Royal Melbourne Hospital, completed a Graduate Diploma in Health Counselling at Victoria University, then a Master of Public Health at Monash University, graduating in 2002. It was during this time that she moved into executive health management.

Her roles have included chief operating officer at Royal Melbourne Hospital, executive director for the medical services at Barwon Health in Geelong, and deputy chief executive of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Now, as Chief Executive of Peninsula Health, she oversees 6000 staff and an operating budget of more than $700 million. She’s also a non-executive director for the Kyneton District Health Service and the Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association, and a Fellow of the Fairfax Ethical Leadership Centre.