Balancing the Grind with Dr. Fred Calavassy, Clinical Director of Maven Dental

Dr. Fred Calavassy is the Clinical Advisory Board Chair and Clinical Director of Maven Dental, which owns over 200 dental practices Trans-Tasman.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I am currently the Clinical Director of Maven Dental (Australia) and Lumino the Dentists (New Zealand) who own over 200 dental practices trans-Tasman. I have been a dentist for over 31 years and started gaining industry experience whilst at university.

I was a Clinical Associate in fixed prosthodontics, tooth conservation, and general restorative dentistry at my alma mater, Sydney University, and later provided private dental education in more complex restorative procedures including complex rehabilitation and cosmetic dental treatment.

My love of education and knowledge sharing led to various opportunities to present education programs across the world, whilst establishing a private practice in the northwestern suburbs of Sydney. The practice grew from 1 to 6 chairs and was eventually sold to a dental consolidator, Maven Dental, in 2010-2011.

A decade on as the company’s Clinical Advisory Board Chair and Clinical Director, I remain committed as ever to delivering excellence in patient care and outstanding clinical practice.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Provision of clinical support to our network is a key aspect of the role. Living our values of playing as a team, respecting each other, bringing our best and taking the time to care is core to how we deliver support to our clinical network.

From compliance support, such as the updated Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) definitions which were implemented in February, to supporting clinicians meeting their regulatory requirements, to sourcing and providing clinical education, the focus continues to be on support of our clinical network.

With a clinical team in Australia and New Zealand, we look to align this support trans-Tasman and I continue to lead the team to excel in the provision of this clinical support.

No two days are the same for me in my role at Maven, but some of my key focal points in recent months have been procurement support, innovation and technology reviews, and providing COVID-19 support and advice.

As the Clinical Director, I make my day available to anyone who needs clinical support – from practices to practice teams, to dentists to support office teams. This often means I fly interstate to work face-to-face with practice teams and the senior leadership.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Prior to COVID-19 travel restrictions, I spent one week in the Maven support office in Queensland, one week in the Lumino support office in New Zealand, one week visiting practices and one week WFH.

With COVID-19 travel restrictions, I tended to work from home three out of four weeks. Working from home has its advantages as travel takes up much productive time. I do, however, maximise my time on planes and airport lounges as they do provide a quiet space for thought and with good WiFi, I am able to stay connected during travel.

With the unfortunate rise of the global pandemic during 2020, COVID-19 forced us all to adapt to a changing world of border restrictions, lockdowns and constantly updating and changing regulatory requirements.

With the dissemination of new research around COVID-19, the responses to any regulatory changes needed to be agile. Based in Sydney and with a support office on the Gold Coast, Queensland and Auckland, New Zealand, the need to coordinate a COVID-19 response plan for the organisation without the ability to travel to support office hubs was challenging.

Thanks to technology and an incredible IT support team, we were able to maintain our high level of clinical support in a coordinate response from multiple locations remotely.

Despite this agility and ability to adapt, face to face relationships do still strengthen culture and so, with easing restrictions in Australia and New Zealand and with the advent of a vaccine in the not-so-distant future, we may see a return to “normal” working conditions travelling to support hubs and collaborating with support teams to continue the delivery of support to practices and clinicians in our network.

Additionally, there was a shift in the method of delivery of educational programs with many face-to-face clinical training models shifting to online and even “hands on” online clinical training programs. This can only strengthen the ability to support our network to improve clinical capability within our practices.

What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I remember reading a quote from Confucius that stated, “Choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. So, loving what I do, I do not really need a work-life balance as is often alluded to due to the stress of the work component of life!

Despite this, I see a work-life balance is more related to a “work-family balance”, as my family are truly the core of my life and I am blessed to have a loving family who are strongly supportive of the time demands of the role.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Not really – why change a good thing that is providing satisfaction?

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I gain most of my knowledge from talking to and interacting with people who are much more intelligent than I, rather than reading or listening to podcasts. Gaining knowledge from both patients and industry professionals over the past three decades has given me the opportunity to grow as an individual.

Being exposed to a broad range of personalities and dealing with these personalities in an environment that is stressful for them in general (e.g. the dental chair) has allowed me the opportunity to be empathetic to their needs and has given me the ability to quickly determine this with good communication skills which rapidly build trust and rapport.

In saying that, I highly recommend you check out Maven Unplugged, our new podcast that covers clinical, wellness and business topics of interest.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I cannot live without a convertible laptop/tablet. Additionally, my Outlook calendar is key to ensuring I manage my time in the most efficient way I can and with an amazing executive assistant (thanks Becs) this contributes to ensuring time is correctly allocated to priorities.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Mother Teresa – to be so giving to so many truly depicts an individual who had a life as a vocation rather than developing a work-life balance. As I mentioned above, if you “…choose a job that you love, you will never have to work a day in your life”.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

OK – I’m still a dentist at heart and by profession so ensure that you maintain your oral health by:

  • Visiting a dentist regularly (Maven Dental has practices throughout Australia).
  • Brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and soft bristled brush and flossing your teeth daily.
  • Maintaining a healthy, well balanced diet low in sugar.

You don’t want a toothache preventing you from doing what you do daily or impacting you socially should the appearance of your smile become affected. With the link between oral health and general health being confirmed by researched evidence, a healthy mouth supports a healthy life.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.