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Danielle Handley Honoured in Health Category for Women in Leadership Awards

When Danielle Handley joined health insurer BUPA, she found herself in an unexpected position. The executive who had hired her had left the company, leaving Handley to lead a major transformation without a direct boss.

In 2022, Handley took a leap out of her comfort zone, transitioning from a long-term senior management role in the insurance industry to a brand-new position in a company expanding into healthcare. However, by the time she arrived at BUPA, the executive who had recruited her six months earlier, along with the head of corporate strategy, had departed. Handley was left without a sponsor or boss and was tasked with spearheading a new strategic transformation program.

“There had been a lot of change across the business,” says Handley, who is now BUPA’s chief customer and transformation officer based in Sydney, overseeing about 500 employees. She has recently been named the winner of the Health category of the Women in Leadership Awards.

“The team I joined was surrounded by ambiguity; they were going through a bit of an identity crisis about the role they would play in the broader organization.”

Handley focused on building the right connections, providing reassurance, and identifying where she could add the most value to the organization as it shifted focus. With a background in psychology and more than 25 years of experience, Handley started her career as a manager with Ernst and Young. Her extensive career includes a master’s in business administration, five years working with Ernst and Young in London, many years in senior executive roles in Australia’s leading insurance companies, and recently, another master’s degree in creative intelligence and strategic innovation.

Since her first days at BUPA, Handley has concentrated on the company’s transformation from a health insurance business to a comprehensive healthcare provider with connected services including optical, digital, dental, hearing, and aged care.

“Connected care is the name of our program of work,” she explains. “It involves looking at our health insurance customer base today and driving increased connection and awareness to enable greater access to all of BUPA’s health services.”

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