Meet ARA general manager Tracey Rudd

6 minute read

She runs half marathons, was a former rugby league WAG and makes the ARA tick.

She runs half marathons, is a former rugby league WAG and makes the ARA tick. 

Rheumatology Republic managed to catch up with Tracey Rudd, pictured above with her sporty family, to find out more about the ARA general manager.

What winding career path has led you to the ARA? 

After completing a Bachelor of Pharmacy at Sydney University, I started working in a pharmacy in Wollongong, which is where I grew up. 

I then worked for a pharmaceutical company in medical information, but was watching what all the marketing people were doing and thinking, “Oh, that looks like so much more fun than what I do”.  

My boss made me do a year in sales before moving me to marketing where I became the product manager for the launch of Arava, which is leflunomide. That’s how I got to know rheumatology and rheumatologists. And honestly, they’re just all lovely people.  

After I had a baby our family moved to where we still live now, a little town called Leeton in the NSW Riverina. I became the Primary Health Network educational visitor for the region and then started working for NPS MedicineWise.  

That led to a project role with the ARA implementing the Value in Prescribing program and then the new website and other projects. In terms of leadership, I was really lucky and learned so much from former ARA president Catherine Hill. I loved working with her and she brought lots of different ideas and implemented changes while she was president.  

And you’re now general manager of the ARA. 

Yes. I’m genuinely honoured and am learning at a rapid pace. I’m responsible for the day-to-day operations and advancing the activities of our strategic plan. I hope that in a few years I’ll look back and say, “Well, we’ve really achieved so much”.  

The role brings together a lot of my existing professional skills: clinical, marketing, project management, managing budgets. I am, however, having to learn a lot about governance. It’s not something they teach you in pharmaceutical companies. I’ve also completed a Certificate in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University, which is very relevant. 

What are you working on right now? 

This week I’ve been looking at our budget spend this year to monitor how we are tracking half way through our financial year. I am reviewing the risk register, risk policy and risk appetite statement for the upcoming inaugural Risk Committee meeting. I would love some more ARA members to volunteer for this committee!  

We’re also working on the development of Clinical Care Standards for RA – we have just recruited a new project officer to oversee this project and would love some more volunteers for this committee as well! 

A lot of time has been spent on recruitment lately. Jing Ye, our fabulous clinical project officer, is going on parental leave soon so I have also recently recruited for her parental leave position. 

I prepare reports and agendas for the ARA board meetings and keep in frequent connection with Arthritis Australia and other consumer organisations – I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate. A lot of time is spent in meetings!  

You work closely with the ARA board? 

Yes, we have nine volunteers on the board and we also have many other committees. That is a real strength. We have a really diverse range of members now: rheumatologists, paediatric rheumatologists, nurses and allied health professionals.  

Another strength for us is that current ARA president Claire Barrett and I have a great relationship. Sometimes we’ll be listening to a presentation and both be messaging each other simultaneously with a similar idea for an activity.  

What is it about this job that sparks joy for you? 

It’s knowing that we can make a difference to patients. At the end of the day if we can help our members, if we can educate our members, if we can provide funds for research then we will have better patient outcomes. That’s the ultimate goal.  

And outside of work? 

I wasn’t sporty when I was younger so I have quite good knees and have taken up running as an adult. I’ve done three half marathons and two sprint distance triathlons. But I do love eating and drinking too. My husband Jody and I love visiting wine regions; Mudgee, Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills, Hunter Valley. So, it’s probably a good thing that I do all of that exercise! 

What are the challenges facing ARA at the moment? 

Definitely workforce. It’s a huge challenge but we’ve got a strategy in place now to hopefully help address it. The other thing is that we have a new government. How the government can approach funding may be limited so we need to be a bit creative.  

The other issue currently is telehealth. We’re advocating for that to be extended until at least 31 December. Telehealth does go some way to help with the workforce shortage, especially in rural or regional Australia. Rural workforce issues are really close to my heart.  

You live in a small country town. What drew you to Leeton? 

My husband Jody is from Leeton. He went to school here and then left when he got a university scholarship to play football. He was a very good rugby league player and used to play for the Illawarra Steelers, North Sydney Bears and Balmain Tigers.  

So, what you’re saying is that you are a WAG (Wives And Girlfriends of sports stars)? 

Apparently so! It’s quite hilarious. Jody was the rookie of the year one year and actually has his own football card. Fans send hundreds of them to us in the mail for him to sign and then they sell the signed cards online for about $20 or so. 

Does this star quality run in the family? 

Yes, both my children are very sporty. I was never very sporty at school, I was a bit of a nerd. But my son Harrison is studying at Wollongong University and is in the Jersey Flegg rugby league squad for St George Illawarra.  

My daughter Charlotte recently made the under 18s Brumbies Country rugby union squad. They played in Canberra last week in the Southern States Tournament.  No games won but she had a blast and it was a great experience. I’ll have to learn the rugby union rules now. 

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