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Celebrating ten years of Moira Clay Consulting

In the second half of 2023, Moira Clay Consulting will celebrate our tenth birthday. A bespoke consulting practice that has specialised in the health and medical research context since 2013, we’ve gone from strength to strength over that decade and have been involved in many impactful projects.

As Moira and the team reflect on the projects completed and connections made over the past decade, we will run a series of articles that look back on where the consultancy began, and the progress made on the journey since then.

In this article, we reflect on the beginnings of Moira Clay Consulting, and some of the early projects and clients.

In 2003, Moira was working in a senior role with the Telethon Kids Institute, having been encouraged to relocate to Perth for the role by then Institute Director Professor Fiona Stanley AC. Moira was inspired by Fiona’s commitment to the health of all children and families and her passion for fostering the next generation of researchers. As Fiona’s term as Director came to a close, Moira started to consider what might be next on the horizon. With practicalities like a mortgage and, more importantly, a desire to work on projects of impact, she contacted colleagues from her national network to see if anyone could make use of her experience in research strategy. And many of them enthusiastically said “yes”.

Moira quickly pulled together an ABN, a business name, figured out the logistics of running a small business, and then got to work doing what comes naturally – using a research approach to help solve complex challenges for health and medical research focused organisations and projects.

Some of the early clients included the Children’s Cancer Institute, the Royal Children’s Hospital, the Heart Foundation, Deakin University, the Association of Medical Research Institutes, and the NHMRC (project work in the field of dementia). What this broad range of clients and projects had in common was their health-related purpose. Each project aimed to make a positive impact on the health of the community, and they were led by individuals and teams looking to achieve something bigger than themselves.

“What really motivates me,” reflects Moira, “is the notion of taking a really good team, or project and being a part of the force that makes them even better. I love nothing more than working collaboratively with really smart organisations and setting them up to thrive. I really enjoy working through a complex issue or situation so that individuals, teams, and organisations can come out the other side and move onto even bigger things.”

After year one of Moira Clay Consulting and realising that running a small business was both possible and incredibly rewarding, Moira started to work on some even more significant projects. Working with clients such as Hunter Medical Research Institute, the Sax Institute, and the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Moira focused her consulting services in the much-needed niche area of research strategy.

Moira started providing independent advice and facilitation to more and more clients, supporting teams and organisations with strategy development and the results were both rewarding and impactful. Her approach demonstrated that co-created research strategies can provide a roadmap for success. The co-creation process allows for the many and varied stakeholder voices to be heard, with strategy and vision workshopping the natural environment for alignment on purpose.

Around year three, Moira realised that one person alone could not handle the workload that was coming her way, plus it would be beneficial to clients, and to her, to scale the business and bring in like-minded sub-contractors.

“I knew that I needed people who shared my vision and purpose, had generosity of spirit to help make others better, and who had solid research and analytical skills. I still define myself as a researcher, and as we all know researchers are only as good as their team, so I started to build one that could specialise in the health and medical research strategy context,” says Moira.

Fast forward a number of years, and there are now 7 sub-contractors working on various different projects. Moira Clay Consulting operates as a gig economy, with independent contractors coming in where the project or client needs demand their skill set. Bringing the whole team together is the common sense of purpose, shared with clients, of achieving outcomes that benefit the health of communities.

The client base of Moira Clay Consulting are respected, influential, well-connected leaders who are ultimately driven by a health or well-being-related purpose. The projects that have sustained the Consultancy for the last decade are all concerned with health and medical research (most often, the integration of both these things) and are commissioned by people who know what they want. Their challenge may be complex, but the brief is clear.

Reflecting on the last ten years, and the serendipitous decision to create a Consultancy, Moira concedes that this venture may in fact be the way she and the team can have the biggest impact.

“We get to work sector-wide, nation-wide and come in to engage with really intelligent, welcoming organisations, setting them up to be even better than they already are. In partnership with clients, we enable success; their goals become our goals and collectively we achieve them. I may not have set out to build a business that would have such reach and longevity, but with hindsight, I can see it was something I was always meant to do,” says Moira.

What does the future hold for Moira Clay Consulting? The answer to this is a long-term strategy to help others achieve ambitious, impactful, and highly relevant aims in health and medical research.

Watch this space!

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