Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito FRANZCR is the Clinical Director, Specialist of Breast Imaging and Intervention and business owner of Women’s & Breast Imaging (WBI), Cottesloe, Western Australia.
She is an Adjunct Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Curtin University and The University of Western Australia.
Her commitment to breast care has taken her out of the clinical environment, and into the online space, to create a platform that complements Dr Vanessa’s clinical services. As of 2022, she is a published author of two bestselling anthology books, is a founding member of The Brilliant Foundation, and works closely in supporting the Ladybird Foundation.
She is married with a son and daughter and contributes actively to her community in numerous ways by providing community health education, ensuring they have access to current information on optimal care for breast health and the best available breast imaging technology In her spare time, Dr Vanessa loves singing in the choir, triathlon, swimming in the ocean, running, cycling, playing tennis, playing scrabble games with the family, and travelling. She has completed half marathon races in Budapest, Hungary and Bordeaux, France. She is eager to do more “run-cation” and “ocean swim-cation” in the future.
When did you start your business?
In 2014, I acquired ownership of the Women and Breast Imaging (WBI) business together with her husband Glenn. WBI is a boutique breast imaging centre based in Cottesloe. It is a 42-year-old business, the first in Australia to provide breast imaging services in private practice. It is a unique niche providing personalised care and offers a one-stop shop dedicated to screening and diagnosis of breast diseases in women, including paediatrics and men. It is a privilege to be of service to the women of WA and provide the service not only in the Perth metro but also from up north and down south of WA (patients travel via car for 3-6+ hours, ride the train or fly every 1-2 years for their breast imaging). I am grateful that I am celebrating my 8 th anniversary as a business owner!
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
My dream was to set up a partnership with my med school classmates and besties who are in another specialty in the Philippines. A super clinic type of corporate practice. I founded my own business as a travelling specialist radiologist performing interventional procedures in remote and regional WA and eastern states. I also worked part-time as a lead breast radiologist at BSWA Bunbury which I and my team pioneered. I was introduced by a fellow breast radiologist to the previous owner of WBI. The lead radiologist was going away on holiday and conference, he was looking for a locum radiologist (cover whilst away). After a few locum jobs, he offered me a part-time job. After 1 year, WBI business owners offered me to buy the company and take over. Compared to working as a government employee, I enjoyed the autonomy of leading my team. I can make time for my family. I lead a multicultural team, supervise and mentor them, and providing trainings for their personal growth and professional development i.e., conferences, workshops, and hands-on training.
What are you most excited about in your business?
As a specialist doctor in public or private hospitals, you have a fixed hourly work time. In addition, you have the responsibility to work after hours on weekends, public holidays roster. I missed significant events in my kid’s life. As a business owner, my family is my priority. I have the privilege to attend school assemblies, concerts, awards, sporting events, doctor’s appointments and competitions even during working hours. I have enjoyed being an “Uber-mum” for my kids. I enjoy our bonding moments during our commute to and from school and after-school extra-curricular activities.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
Taking over a well-established specialist imaging centre without a business background was the most challenging. My husband Glenn and I took over WBI 8 years ago. We are so grateful for the mentorship and guidance of the previous owners John Hogg and Breast Radiologist Dr Peter Goodwin. We encountered resistance to changes to streamline efficient workflow from pre-existing staff. We made major changes and updated the company’s policies and procedures which was not easy. It was also challenging not to have access to patients’ images to compare their prior studies from other imaging centres like BreastScreen WA, as well as in public and private imaging centres. It took me many years to establish a digital connection with these institutions. I collaborated with them and provided electronic links to patients’ images for the continuity of care of the patients who are undergoing life-saving surgery. It was expensive but a well-worth investment for the optimal care and comprehensive diagnostic assessment of our clients. Any doctor who is part of the patient’s care like the GP referrers, the multidisciplinary breast team of breast surgeons, oncologists, radiation oncologists, BreastScreen WA, private imaging centres and public hospitals all over WA and interstate have now secured access to our client’s digital images and vice-versa. We also updated the website and started to promote the business via social media. We also promoted the business via the local newspaper and paid advertisements in local medical journals. I have been visiting many GP clinics all over the Perth metro.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
Learn to develop your GROWTH MINDSET. Every person has the potential to be great and to achieve their dream job and goal. One should be persevering. You could achieve anything if you put your heart, mind, and soul 101% of the time. To manage all aspects of one’s life, aim to be a 1% better version of yourself by practising daily personal development. Practice self-care and self-compassion.
SPONGE PRINCIPLE: Never stop learning. Soak up everything towards one’s personal and professional development. Reading insightful books is a great way to invest in your personal growth
Connect and Give Back to the Community
As an immigrant radiologist from the Philippines who arrived here in Perth to do further subspecialised studies and training 17 years ago, I am blessed to call Australia my home It is an honour and privilege to be able to give back and SERVE my community. I enjoy being a mentor and supervisor to junior doctors and medical students. I raised funds for the Foundation through my successful completion of the Marathon in the 2016 City to Surf, participation in the 2016 Tour de Gracetown bike ride and completion of my first 3.6 km endurance ocean water race Busselton Jetty Swim in February 2022. Excerpt from: Global Girls – Find your thing pages 15-34.
Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?
I was connected to Karen McDermott via LinkedIn and saw her post as a previous winner of the AusMumpreneur award in 2020. I directly messaged her and enquired what is this all about. She encouraged me to have a go and so I did.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards? What surprised you most about the awards?
Being a finalist for this AusMumpreneur award is a blessing and a gift. It has allowed me to reflect on my journey trials and obstacles during my medical studies, towards achieving my specialist status and then acquiring my own business. It has allowed me to count my blessings and appreciate all the people who supported and helped me along the way especially my family in Manila, my own family here in Western Australia, relatives, friends, and everyone who made an impact on my personal and professional growth. The acknowledgement and recognition of the Women’s and Breast Imaging (WBI) team to serve our local community in the Perth Metro including regional and remote Western Australia mean a lot to us because it validates the importance of our hard work and commitment. It is an honour and privilege to be able to give back and SERVE my community. AusMumpreneur awards have given me a platform to share my mission and advocacy in promoting the importance of PREVENTIVE MEDICINE.
A woman diagnosed with breast cancer has a better chance of surviving the disease if detected by imaging: a mammogram and/or breast ultrasound before she can feel it and before her doctor can feel it. One should not wait for a change, a lump, or symptoms in your breast. While more people are being diagnosed with breast cancer each year, thanks to improved screening techniques and treatments, fewer people are dying from the disease.”
How did the awards help you in your business?
I found my tribe! We celebrate, cheer, encourage, inpsire and support each other during the highs and lows of life and in business.
Published co-author of 2 anthology books both released on International Women’s Day 2022: Global Girls – Find your thing and Courage and Confidence – What it takes to succeed in business.
My third anthology book ‘The Power to Rise Above’ is coming out very soon. This is in collaboration with 29 other international authors led by Sandy Davies. The soft Australian launch of this book is at The Logan Writer’s Festival on 9-10 September in South Brisbane.
I got selected by The Women’s Business School Accelerate scholarship program. My mentors and classmates are so inspiring and supportive. I am learning a lot, growing, and soaring as a person, as a doctor and as an entrepreneur, as a leader enjoying and benefiting from the connection and collaboration with like-minded SUPER women in business.
What advice would you give to other mums thinking about entering the awards?
Just do it! Your future self will thank you for it.
What has been the best thing about starting your own business?
For me, my goal is to provide the optimal care for women and do it in one day to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety for coming back on another day for their other breast test appointment in addition to providing personalised care and additional consultation to women if required. WBI’s unique niche is personalised and optimal care, one-on-one consultations, and one-stop-shop services which other centres here in WA do not provide. My team go above and beyond in our patient care and service. We treat our competitors as collaborators for the continuity of care our patients. We are making it accessible for them to access secured electronic images and reports before their breast cancer surgery and future ongoing surveillance. I collaborate with the breast surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists, genetics counsellors and other allied health and breast care nurses as a member of the multi-disciplinary breast team. My passion is to serve, provide comprehensive care and raise awareness of the importance of preventive medicine which will empower women to their HEALTH advocates. I look after women’s breast and gynaecological health which includes my colleagues in the medical field.
What’s happening next in your business? What are your big plans for the future?
After 42 years of WBI history, we are opening a new branch here in WA in 2023! I am starting to scale up and hopefully branch out more here in WA and to the eastern states, and maybe in the Philippines too. I would like to create and build up my brand via podcasts, write my memoir and be a leader in educating and empowering women via BREAST CANCER awareness for early breast cancer detection and to save more lives online. I believe that I can build and create my personal and professional brand and be one of the leading resources of breast health education and awareness hub in Australia, the Philippines and globally thru connection and collaboration with local, national and international leaders in the medical and business field.
What are your website and/or social media links (eg. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram)