AJP chats with the multi-talented pharmacist and General Manager behind pharmacy.com.au

1. How did you go from pharmacy graduate to GM of a major online brand in the pharmacy space?

The first step in my journey was when my preceptor sat me down for a hard conversation: I’d made a dispensing error. During my intern year I was heavily involved in promoting activities for pharmacy organisations. He said – Aaron, it’s great that you are involved in the industry but before anything, you must be a great pharmacist.  Without that, you will always lack credibility.”

Whilst it stung at the time, he was right and I’m thankful he told me the truth. From there, I focused on being a great pharmacist, supported that with a philosophy that “there’s always a better way” that was drilled into me by Rhonda White – this is how I came to infuse the use of technology with my everyday pharmacy practice.

I found ways to connect with my customers using the web and telecommunications. By applying two passions in everyday pharmacy successfully, I became recognised as someone who could be trusted in that junction because I was credible. 

I was blessed to have the opportunity to head to the USA and work for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, with a pharmacy-technology company for the ultimate delivery of the GuildCare programs and services. I have Kos Sclavos to thank for that opportunity. After GuildCare was established in Australia, I dedicated myself to business – by owning and managing a community pharmacy. This exposed me to business operations.

Business is a people game and a detail game. I made mistakes. I learned from them.

After selling my pharmacy and a year out of pharmacy to “reset my operating system”, the Pharmacy Guild approached me to drive this eCommerce initiative (pharmacy.com.au) and I’m excited to be behind the wheel.

2. When and why did you become interested in IT and technology?

“With technology you can be a more effective health care professional.”

I’ve always had a fascination with technology and creativity. We didn’t have an extravagant upbringing but Mum was religious about education. To support that she invested in an Amiga computer then, years later, a 486.  I would soak up any information from anyone willing to teach me – remember, this was years before the internet was available.

What fascinates me is that while the physical world can be changed, it also has concrete laws that can’t be broken. Technology is “ones and zeros” – as such, your imagination can go further and result in real outcomes. With technology you can be a more effective health care professional.

3. How does being a pharmacy owner influence your current role?

Many people believe that simply implementing technology means you will fix the problem – this is not the case. As a pharmacy owner I know that only the right solution implemented correctly, which is tangible, supported and effective, will be worth your time.

Technology has to support what the pharmacy does best – care for people. In my current role, I filter everything we do through my realism of what a pharmacy can deliver as a team. I ask myself “Would the pharmacy staff actually do this?”, “How would I teach this to my staff?”, “How would I run this if it was my name on the door and on the business loan?”

4. What are you hoping for in the near future, both personally and professionally?

I want to see pharmacy ready for, active in and beneficiaries of the digital age.

Pharmacy has human connection at its heart and soul.

This is the great opportunity in the digital age. We are great at connecting with our customers in-store. We have such a great opportunity to connect with our customers via digital means.

On a personal level – this is my motivation. To support my pharmacy colleagues in transforming their businesses digitally and reaping the benefits of an online offering. Any pharmacy can do it with the right support, advice, approach and tools.