If the last 2-and-a-bit years have taught us anything, it is that we are so much stronger than we think we are. We are more resilient than we ever believed we were, and we can manage (and sometimes thrive) during periods of change. Here at Mother Duck, we are about to embark on a period of change, and I am sure we will come out the other side more aware of our strengths and more supported to face the challenges that come our way.
Leading us through the pandemic and everything that came with it for our small businesses was our amazing and talented Miss Karen. Miss Karen has been the CEO of Mother Duck for the past 12 years, and we wouldn’t be the amazing organisation that we are today without Miss Karen’s passion for the Early Years and dedication to Mother Duck. At the end of last year, Miss Karen took an extended leave of absence and has recently resigned from her position as CEO. Although it is hard to consider Mother Duck without Miss Karen, she will still be supporting the centres as a member of the Mother Duck Board of Directors. Having Miss Karen’s knowledge, expertise and institutional memory on the Board will be an immeasurable asset and will no doubt help move the organisation to bigger and better things in the future.
But… This has left some HUGE shoes to fill, and I have very tentatively stepped into these shoes as the new CEO of Mother Duck Childcare. So, I would like to introduce myself.
My name is Cathy Conallin, and I have been a part of the Mother Duck family for most of the past 22 years. For the last 6 years, I have been the Franchisee at our Mother Duck Bellbowrie Centre, not only running a business in the local community but becoming a part of the community. Before moving to Bellbowrie, I worked at a number of our centres on the Southside, starting as a 20-year-old assistant educator at Mother Duck Manly and working my way up to Educational Leader when our Mother Duck Wynnum centre opened 8 years ago. I am a fully qualified Early Childhood Teacher and hold a sincere passion for quality early childhood education and care.
I also spent some time working in Quality Assurance, travelling to childcare centres all across Australia, and 2 years as an Early Childhood Officer at the Office of Early Childhood. Although I did spend a few years away from Mother Duck, it wasn’t a difficult decision when the time came to come back to the Mother Duck family.
I am a mum to 3 beautiful children, so I do understand the frantic pace of working and raising a family. Thankfully, my children are a little bit older now, but I am not sure if they need me any less now that they are at school! In our spare time, my family loves to get out and explore our little piece of paradise – bike riding, hiking and camping are our happy places. We are also governed by the sporting seasons – cricket, soccer, basketball – there is never a quiet weekend in our household!!
It is a juggling act, and I still remember that morning rush of dropping everyone to Mother Duck before starting work for the day – that is after already doing a whole day’s work just to get out the door!!! I think one of the favourite parts of my job as a Franchisee is building friendships with the families at my centre – I love being a support to our families and a cheerleader when the days (or nights) are tough. I remember those days and how just having someone by my side was enough to get me through.
Now, my new role as CEO is to be a support and cheerleader for all our teams across the Mother Duck organisation. I have been working temporarily in the role since the end of 2021, and in that time, I have been spending my days in our centres, finding out how I can support the teams – what is working and what plans we have for the future. Now that I have accepted the position permanently, we can start working on all the ideas we have to move Mother Duck forward. So, you may see some changes on our website, you might hear about new initiatives in our centres, and you will hear from me more often, but Mother Duck will remain the same Mother Duck you have all come to know during your time with us.
It is a privilege and an honour to be stepping into the CEO position, and I look forward to getting to know as many of you as I travel around the centres.