Our Magnificent Team:
Doctor Brenden Brown
(AKA BB or Doctor Foot)
You could describe Brenden, the founder of A Step Ahead, as engaging, encouraging, enlivening energetic, enthusiastic, vigorous, vital and vivacious and still fall 37 adjectives shy of perfectly describing his passion for work and for life. To say he’s your typical podiatrist is like saying Uluru is just another rock.
How it all began
He began A Step Ahead with the goal of assembling a staff of passionate people with an unquenchable thirst for life. He didn’t just want a team of podiatrists content with the status quo. Instead he wanted a team of podiatrists who dared to think big; who believed that good was the enemy of great; who understood that the harder you work, the wider the window; and who shared his boldness in thinking that they, as a staff, could better the lives of their patients.
To make this goal a reality, he went about organizing a crew. Believing that brilliance feeds brilliance, he, as a rule, only hired people smarter than himself. For as Brenden says, “If I’m the highest denominator, we’re all in trouble.”
And now, after more than 20 years as the face of A Step Ahead (or as he calls himself, “the guy who wears the fez”), his quest for bettering the lives of others has not wavered. Nor has it gone unnoticed. He has appeared on the Today Show, What’s Good for You, Mornings with Kerri Anne and Current Affair, and has been featured in Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, New Idea, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and even the “all-knowing” Dolly Magazine, which described him as an “expert.”
Yet, despite these accolades, the endorsement he prides most came from a potential job candidate who turned down an offer with A Step Ahead under the reasoning, “They are not normal podiatrists. They make their staff work really hard.”
When away from the office, he relishes exploring all of life’s magical possibilities with his wife and daughters.
What patient or patients do you remember most?
One was an older man who could no longer walk his grand kids to school due to severe pain. Soon after we treated him and rectified his pain, he took up bush-walking with his grand kids. And the other patient I remember most was a young man who weighed 160 kilograms. He could not walk past his front gate without pain. So we fitted him with orthoses /insoles, giving him the ability to walk without pain. He then walked so much he returned one year later 45 kilos lighter and in need of new insoles to replace the original pair he wore out.
If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
Wow…Truly no one…Isn’t that crazy? I suppose the question should be framed, “Who do I admire?”…I have long admired Nelson Mandela. I admire former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam. I admire any person, who despite popular opinion, has looked towards creating change for the greater good.
Do you have any unknown skills, facts or interests?
When I was young I was taken out of school by the Education Department and placed in what I call a “Hippy Camp.” I was selected as a potential “future leader of Australia” and was taught all sorts of crazy leadership and team building skills. I also had a microchip implanted in the back of my neck, which, I’m told, will be remotely activated when the time is right for me to lead the country. You can decide which bit is true.
What’s your biggest flaw?
Music. I would love to be able to read music, but I’m terrible at it. Also, I’m horrific at skipping.
Who would you be if you could live someone else’s life?
No one. I like the life I have. I love building my own life.
I have two:
My little girl’s scripture teacher asked her class, “Who would like to go to heaven?” All the kids in the class raised their hands except my daughter. When the teacher asked her, “Don’t you want to go to heaven?” she replied, “No. I like staying with my mum and dad if that’s okay?”
My little girl was moving from one school to another. The principal from the school she was leaving told my wife, “We will miss her. She is a great little girl, she is school captain material.” My wife cried, and then so did I.
Doctor Rachel Hudson
Rachel was awarded College Dux of her school. Need we say more? No. But let’s give it a try.
Rachel, or Rach as most call her at the office, literally, not figuratively, has stars in her eyes. She lists astrophotography as a hobby. (No shame here. We had to look it up as well. It, as the name suggests, involves photographing the cosmos.) And she once gave thought to a career as an astrophysicist. We can’t say for certain but given the fact she considers herself more of a morning person than a night person may have swayed her career path towards podiatry. Whatever the reason we’re glad to have her on our staff. Rachel brilliantly runs our orthotic lab while balancing studies at the University of Western Sydney in pursuit of a podiatric medicine degree.
When not chasing career ambitions or telling the man on the moon to say cheese, she enjoys painting, especially with watercolours (although given drought conditions she may consider working in oils or acrylics)
Rachel hopes to one day visit Nepal and hike the Annapurna Circuit. Not surprising considering the trek’s highest point, Thorung Pass, scrapes the sky at 5,416 meters, which would place Rachel that much closer to the stars above.
What made you decide to join A Step Ahead?
I was a university student who had just started my Podiatry degree and wanted to get my foot in the door (pardon the pun!). Brenden and the team were so welcoming and friendly from the moment I started. I knew I would be working in an environment of continuous learning.
Why should people visit you at A Step Ahead?
People should visit A Step Ahead because we are hands-down the most experienced podiatrist in the area and provide treatment that works. Our staff genuinely care about our patients and their conditions. We want people to get back to living their life to the fullest, so that is exactly what we do- get you back on your feet!
What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
Peanut butter and chocolate.
If you could have a dinner party with 2 historical/famous figures (living or dead) who would you invite and why?
Doctor Karl Kruszelnicki and JK Rowling - both are very intelligent and would provide interesting conversations.
What is the best advice you were ever given?
If you don’t have passion, then you have nothing. If you don’t believe in what you are doing, why would anyone else?
Besides being a top-notch podiatrist, Mark has the unique distinction of being the only person we know in his 40s who still dreams of playing professional soccer. While some might label this dream as far-fetched, we certainly aren’t going to red card it, for stranger things have happened. (Although, in retrospect, after giving it more thought we can’t think of anything stranger.)
Regardless, we can vouch that our patients, especially those with ingrown toenails, hope Mark never achieves his dream. Mark is the David Beckham of ingrown toenail cures. He’s brilliant at it. A task he proudly claims he “gets a real kick out of fixing.” (And yes, only Mark could pair a soccer reference with ingrown toenails.) While Mark takes immense pride in his work, his greatest honour comes from his two daughters calling him dad.
As a single father, he embraces the challenges of parenthood. As of late he, thanks to instructional YouTube videos, has been doing his best Franck Provost imitation trying to master the art of braiding his daughters’ hair. So far so good. No complaints from his daughters. Although given Mark’s love for soccer, we’ve been told they must remind him no soccer player man-buns each time.
What attracted you to A Step Ahead?
My first tour of duty 15-plus years ago was motivated by the opportunity to work as part of a great team and make the transition from being a very green, new graduate to a podiatrist who could hold his own. On returning three years ago for my second stint, I’m still learning, but my role has changed. Now the I’m the older one whose job it is to pass on what I’ve learned to the younger staff, completing the circle, so to speak.
What’s your favourite flavour of ice cream?
Why should people visit you at A Step Ahead?
I get a real kick out of fixing the ingrown toenails others cannot. We get patients all the time who have tried to fix their own, seen a few doctors, sometimes even other podiatrists. For some reason, I just have a knack for fixing them up, usually causing much less pain than expected.
If you could live anyone else’s life whose would it be and why?
Probably re-do mine again and fix all the mistakes!”
Finish the sentence: “If I am not working at Step Ahead, I’m…”
Tinkering on cars.
Shendi has more titles than Amazon.com. Among them include: podiatry assistant, massage therapist, longest tenured staff member, office foot lollie distributor, Brenden Brown’s wife (yes, the same Brenden Brown from the bio above, who founded A Step Ahead), Brenden Brown’s go to girl, and Brenden Brown’s dream instigator. Her expertise in foot care allows her to travel with her husband, attending to the needs of the elderly in aged care facilities, and examining the feet of refinery workers in Brewarrina and Bourke.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention her title of chocaholic. Shen craves chocolate like koala bears crave eucalyptus leaves. There are some on our staff who suspect Shen is Willy Wonka’s secret love child. But her tastes aren’t limited to chocolate. She also has a fondness for French wine. If not at A Step Ahead, she could see herself working as a cross between Willy Wonka and French sommelier. But unless France and Switzerland merge and begin producing Château Lafite-Rothschild-filled bontons, we’re confident Shen won’t be leaving us any time soon.
When not attending feet or pursuing chocolate, Shen enjoys cooking, skiing, scuba diving, exercising, and shopping for clothes.
Position: Receptionist/Administrative Officer
Heidi, or Heids as she’s known at the office, carries the lofty distinction of being the only A Step Ahead employee to ever be awarded Young Australian of the Month. Though she harbours no recollection to what merited her this soaring honour we’re certain that if there was such a thing as Middle-Aged Australian of the Month she would win that too, hands down, for her boundless creativity.
Away from the office, she enjoys cooking, often experimenting with new recipes, giving her the enviable gift of an unbiased pallet. This bears especially true when it comes to ice cream.
When asked to name her favourite flavour, she replied, “All of them!” When not cooking, or entertaining thoughts of becoming a professional taste tester, she dabbles in art. Though she has no preferred medium, she was once offered $1500 for one of her mosaics.
Yet with so many accomplishments to her life resume, her greatest source of pride comes from hearing compliments directed towards her kids. All worthy recipients, no doubt, in her mind, of the Young Australian of the Month award, if only she could recall what it involves.
What made you decide to join A Step Ahead?
I wanted an opportunity to work in health, and the hours were perfect for my situation.
If you could meet anyone famous, who would it be?
No one really…Is that weird?
If you could live anyone else’s life, who would it be and why?
My husband because he has an awesome wife.
Why do you like working with the Step Ahead Team?
Because they are more like my extended family rather than colleagues.
What are you terrible at?