This month we are taking the opportunity to farewell, celebrate and thank Graeme Fear, who has served on the Shake It Up Australia board of directors since the very beginning of the Foundation and been an invaluable contributor to the organisation.
Graeme, who founded his own mentoring and coaching firm, has extensive directorship, chief executive and senior executive experience. For over nine years he chaired a group of 36 CEOs and senior executives as part of The Executive Connection. He was the first Australian awarded the Robert Nourse TEC Chairman of the Year Award in 2009 and over his nine years as a Chair won seven Gold and two Silver Chair Excellence Awards. Graeme has been a judge in the Telstra Business Awards regularly since 2008 and the Telstra Business Women’s Awards since 2011.
We spoke with Graeme all about his time with Shake It Up and his words of wisdom for the future of the Foundation.
Graeme, can you tell us how you first got involved with Shake It Up?
I first met Clyde Campbell back in 2007, when I was a judge at the Telstra Business Awards and his company Machinery Automation & Robotics (MAR) was an excellent contender for the annual Business of the Year Award. MAR had grown to 70 staff since Clyde started the organisation, with offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, supporting Australian and international clients with high-tech automation and robotic solutions.
At the time, I was working as a Chair at The Executive Connection (TEC) and in late 2008 Clyde joined my TEC 14 team working together with seventeen other CEOs. It was not long after joining TEC 14 that Clyde was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 44. In 2011, when Clyde founded the Shake It Up Australia Foundation with his brother Greg, I was asked to join the board and have been proud to be there ever since.
What have been some of the biggest highlights during your tenure as Vice Chairman?
There have been so many highlights, there are almost too many to list! Some of the ones that stand out include:
- Developing and strengthening the partnership with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF), allowing Shake It Up to double the reach of the funds raised in Australia. Our MJFF collaboration has built upon a strong base of promising Parkinson’s research in Australia and allows both groups to maximise the impact of capital raised from the Australian Parkinson’s community to accelerate better treatments on the path to a cure. MJFF provides scientific oversight and grant management of all co-funded research projects in Australia with the goal of enabling Shake It Up’s funding to reach its target — improved therapies on the path to a cure for Parkinson’s — more quickly and with greater impact.
- Watching Clyde run a hugely successful business while being a father of three, with the determination, persistence, diligence, courage and drive to establish the Foundation, along with the incredible support of his wife Carolyn and brother Greg.
- The fact that right from the start, Clyde and Greg made the call that all administration costs for the foundation would be covered by them personally. This has ensured that all donations and funds raised since 2011 have gone straight to supporting Australian Parkinson’s research.
- Clyde undertaking roles as not only Founding Director but Chairman and funder of the Foundation, as well as previously CEO, is very special. If ever a person earned his appointment as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia – another highlight.
- The Governor-General of Australia becoming the patron of Shake It Up in 2019
- Funding 71 research projects across 22 research institutes to the value of $27.7 million dollars so far. It has been a thrill to be part of the Foundation’s growth, from first investing $1.18M into research in 2011/12 to $5.7M in 2021/22.
What is your vision for the future of Parkinson’s research in Australia?
To quote Clyde, from the Shake It Up 2020 Annual Report… “Much work remains to be done in the quest to better understand the connection between Parkinson’s pathology and the daily lived experience of the disease – and to translate this understanding into new therapies”.
Over your career, what is one of the most significant lessons you’ve learned?
If I had to distil it down to just one crucial lesson, it would be to surround yourself with talented and positive people.
What are you most proud of in your time on the Shake It Up Australia Board?
Shake It Up emerged out of nowhere, and over the past 12 years has been able to achieve incredible results. In my opinion, this is due to three key things:
- An excellent founder and leader in Clyde, and a well-balanced team.
- Our partnership with MJFF provides global credibility for our work.
- The huge effort from so many donors, fundraisers and supporters.
The team at Shake It Up Australia and our Board thank Graeme for his years of service in support of our vision of a world without Parkinson’s, and the level of expertise and insight he has offered over the last 12 years.