Much loved boss Michael Bassingthwaighte to retire as Peoplecare CEO after 36 years

Business leader announcement: Retiring Peoplecare chief executive Michael Bassingthwaighte with incoming CEO Dr Melinda Williams at The Illawarra Connection dinner on Tuesday night. Picture: Greg Ellis.
Business leader announcement: Retiring Peoplecare chief executive Michael Bassingthwaighte with incoming CEO Dr Melinda Williams at The Illawarra Connection dinner on Tuesday night. Picture: Greg Ellis.

One of Illawarra’s most loved bosses officially announced his retirement on Tuesday night after 36 years as chief executive of Peoplecare.

Surrounded by business and civic leaders at The Illawarra Connection networking dinner at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach TIC president Graham Lancaster said Michael Bassingthwaighte will be retiring on July 6.

“Michael has been a member of TIC since June 2007,” he said.

.”And Peoplecare is thrilled to announce Dr Melinda Williams has been appointed internally as the new chief executive. She has worked in private health insurance for two decades and been Peoplecare’s Head of Hospital and Health Services for almost 10 years.”

Currently the Head of Hospital and Health Services at Peoplecare, Dr Williams brings two decades of private health insurance experience and extensive tertiary education in health to the role, including a Bachelor of Nursing, a Masters of Public Health, and a PhD in population health management from the University of Wollongong.

Dr Williams has spent the last decade managing Peoplecare’s Clinical Services and Hospital and Health Services teams, driving health strategy and health management services for customers. In that time, she has also played a key role in a number of health-related working groups and boards including the Illawarra and Southern Practice Research Network Strategic Working Group and The Cram Foundation.

Mr Bassingthwaighte took on the role of chief executive in 1982 and under his direction Peoplecare has not only become an employer of choice.but he has overseen its membership growth to more than 81,000 people for health insurance, its workforce increase to 175 employees and in recent years it has also opened a dental and optical practice in central Wollongong. 

Peoplecare also delivers highly rated health cover to a further 268,000 policy-holders, through shared services management arrangements with two other health funds and via a partnership with Allianz Global Assistance to provide health cover for overseas visitors and students.

Mr Bassingthwaighte has also long-held leadership positions on industry boards and associations.

He said his decision about when to retire was made carefully and with plenty of thought and he knows he is leaving the organisation is in safe hands.

He said the Board has demonstrated its commitment to Peoplecare’s high-performing culture in making an internal appointment.

“I wish to firstly acknowledge and thank the Illawarra business and wider community, as well as my industry colleagues, for their immense support over the last 36-years. Melinda’s credentials speak for themselves and it was a deliberate decision by the Board to recruit for the role of CEO from within Peoplecare,” he said.

“It is imperative that the Peoplecare culture is preserved, and this was best achieved through the appointment of a candidate that understands and demonstrates the organisation’s values. The successful candidate also needed the industry experience, capacity and skillset necessary to build and enhance what is already here, and to drive vision and future direction. This internal appointment shows that our succession planning has come to fruition and I couldn’t be more delighted that this has been achieved.”

Incoming chief executive Dr Williams described the work Mr Bassingthwaighte has done over three-and-a healf decades as incredible.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank Michael for his unprecedented commitment to Peoplecare and his genuine dedication to the private health insurance industry.

“As a long-term Peoplecarer, I too have a strong commitment to the organisation’s vision and values. Today the private health insurance industry is rich with opportunities, and I look forward to doing this alongside the incredible team here at Peoplecare. Our commitment to the Illawarra business community remains, and I am dedicated to continuing to nurture the culture that Peoplecare is widely recognised for in the Illawarra community and wider industry,” she said.

Dr Williams will move into the role from July 7, 2018.

Peoplecare is a national, not for profit health fund which has been caring for its members since 1953.