Q&A with Rachael Dagge | Health & Technology Prodigy

At Hunt & Co., we love celebrating career journeys and learning more about the story behind them. Rachael Dagge has anything but cookie-cutter career. A former yacht stewardess, medical receptionist, private chef and product development scientist, Rachael has an impressively diverse resume that simply cannot be condensed into one short sentence.

She has not only co-founded a food wastage AI startup and studied a Bachelor of Health Science, but Rachael has also worked closely with UQ Ventures as the Chief Student Entrepreneur in 2020 and embarked on a fully funded scholarship for the SheCodes Plus program 2021 cohort. Currently a Consultant at KPMG Australia for the Health, Ageing and Human Services division and about to start her Masters in Biotechnology, we think there might be nothing Rachael can’t do.

We were thrilled to chat with her about her fascinating career journey including several career pivots. Before we go any further, go ahead and follow Rachael on LinkedIn to see her amazing journey for yourself!

These are incredible professional accolades, but tell us, who is Rachael the person?

I was born in Hong Kong because my parents lived there for 10 years and we then moved to Brisbane when I was 2.

I would probably describe myself as a high-energy, focussed people person. I am naturally very curious and I love learning anything new about the science and technology space.

What is something that not many people know about you?

Hmm, that I used to be in circus school when I was younger!

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I’m really good at doing impersonations of people and characters from movies, particularly Dory from Finding Nemo.

What are you currently watching/reading/listening to?

I’m reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and I listen to the Fear and Greed podcast every morning before work for a news update – I would highly recommend both.

Who is your professional inspiration?

Albert Einstein – to be that deeply intelligent in both science and people is remarkable. He has one of the best quotes I know, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

What’s on repeat with your work playlist right now?

BANKS, Rex Orange County or some good old fashioned Bieber.

What’s your most recommended Business resource?

The AFR (Australian Financial Review).

What is next for you?

Continuing in my role as a graduate at KPMG and starting my Masters in Biotechnology.

What is your role as a Consultant at KPMG? What are you currently working on?

I work in Management Consulting in the health team, which essentially means we work on health-related projects for government and non-government entities. Consulting is a strange gig to describe because it’s very varied in nature, but what we do is solve problems for clients who don’t have the infrastructure and resources to do so themselves.

An example of this would be increasing patient access to new medical diagnostics, providing a strategy to a hospital to cut down on wait times in ED, or could be improving telemedicine services in rural and remote communities. I’m currently on a confidential job, but have previously been involved in the Indigenous health and data space, private health, medical technology and supporting rural and remote medicine.

Back to your days as a stewardess, how did you manoeuvre your way to where you are now?

I would listen to science and health podcasts while I worked on boats and was really interested in the field as this area was always exciting and changing. I loved working on boats but I didn’t see it as a long term career. I moved back to Australia and started studying Health Science majoring in Nutrition in the hope to work clinically as a Dietitian.

I realised during an internship for a Dietitian that I didn’t in fact enjoy clinical work and was intrigued by the Public Health space. It put a real fire in my belly seeing things like minor environmental changes or policy change making a large scale impact instead of just the one-on-one change I could achieve clinically. I started delving into this space further and saw the pivotal role that technology plays in accelerating and optimising these changes, which drew me to the health technology space.

Can you tell us more about your internship in San Francisco? How did that awesome opportunity come about?

I was awarded a scholarship by the University of Queensland to fly over and live in San Francisco! They also set me up with an interview with Patch’d as the CEO, Rob was a UQ alumni. I worked for Patch’d in business development and also assisted with the user design of their product to help prepare them for an upcoming clinical trial at Houston Hospital.

Rob was a great teacher, he pushed me during that month and I grew a lot in that short time. It gave me a well-rounded perspective on how difficult doing business is in the US and how in Australia we are a very small fish in a very large pond!

You recently completed a 6-month fully funded scholarship position in the SheCodes Plus program. What was the motivation behind taking this step?

I see myself continuing a career in the heath technology space, so although I had the degree in health, the practical understanding of business and had worked in the AI space I wanted to understand the fundamentals in coding so I could act as the bridge between health and technology.

I’m not a person who naturally warms to the nitty-gritty nature of coding, I’m definitely more of a big picture person and found it hard to be so fixated in small details but it was a really good challenge. I’m now able to understand broadly a health technology product in its entirety and while I don’t know details, I can understand timing, costings and other aspects that would make me an asset in the space.

Looking at our LinkedIn, you have certainly made what seems like interesting career pivots. How would you describe this journey?

I’ve always enjoyed working in dynamic and chaotic environments which is what I’ve found in every job I’ve been in. Each job has involved pressure in some way and has demanded the best of the best, so it’s been a way to continually improve a broad range of skills.

What tips do you have for other young professionals making their mark on the industry?

Find your niche and area of interest and use it as your edge. It’s easy to be cookie-cutter but you’re more memorable when you combine areas that will set you aside from the pack and show you are future-focused.

A big thank you to Rachael for sharing her incredible career journey so far. Safe to say, we’re pretty impressed and we imagine you are too. Be sure to connect with Rachael on LinkedIn.