26/10/2004 - 22:00

Multi-facets reflect well on Henderson

26/10/2004 - 22:00

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Multi-facets reflect well on Henderson

Is he an architect? Is he a healthcare research advocate? Is he a trade promoter for Western Australia? Is he a motor racer?

Put these questions to Michael Henderson and he is apt to answer yes to all.

He has had a career as a motorcycle racer and owned a 500cc motorcycle racing team; he heads a mid-sized architectural firm; and has a strong interest in health and community projects.

Besides his role on the Cancer Foundation of WA board, Mr Henderson owns MEDSCI Technologies – an IT business providing support to the medical, scientific, industrial and general communities – and Bio Medical Research Australasia.

Mr Henderson is also the chairman of Sandover Pinder Architects, vice-chairman of the Australia Indonesia Business Council and a president’s representative for the Republic of Indonesia’s Bali for the World Committee.

Sandover Pinder was involved with the Woodside tower development and, according to Mr Henderson, is one of a handful of practices in the world with experience in theme parks.

These above roles are only a taste of Mr Henderson’s business involvement.

And while he is no longer running a motor racing team, he still takes the time to test his skill in Formula Ford racing.

The Henderson family has a long history of medical involvement in WA.

Mr Henderson’s maternal grandfather, George Boucher, ran Boucher Industries, a surgical instruments supply business and helped set up St John Ambulance in the State.

His paternal grandfather, Dr Gilbert Henderson, was a pioneer in microsurgery and cranial reconstruction and founded the UWA School of Dentistry.

Mr Henderson’s interest in medical technology, especially the use of ceramics to boost bone repairs, became more personal after a near fatal motorcycle accident on Mt Panorama, Bathurst, in 1982.

The injuries from that accident led to him receiving such treatment.

After a year of rehabilitation he returned as a motorcycle racing team owner, controlling a stable of riders such as Michael Doohan and Peter Radford.

Indeed, it was the use of medical technology in motorcycle maintenance that had the team punching well above its weight.

While the racing bug was running, Mr Henderson was also involved in projects in South-East Asia linked to the medical distribution business he had set up.

His desire to promote relationships between Western Australia and the region was fired when people there mistook him for being English.

“When I told them I was from Western Australia, and especially from Perth, the lights would go off,” he said.

“I set out to tell South-East Asians that WA was the place to come for healthcare.”

The breakthrough came when he was trying to get a look at Sengewan Hospital in Bali. He met up with a Balinese prince who had been trying to get his father into the US Mayo Clinic for treatment but the clinic was refusing to take him.

Mr Henderson arranged, with the help of Professor Alex Cohen, one of WA’s medical leaders, for the King of Bali to fly to Perth for treatment, and a valuable relationship was born.

That relationship has led him to build strong links with the Indonesian Government.

As a result of these links, he was able to recently arrange a meeting between Clough managing director David Singleton and Indonesian Minister of State-owned Enterprises Laksamana Sukardi.

“He [Mr Sukardi] was prepared to allow Clough to deal through his office to make sure the opportunities they saw in Indonesia were real,” Mr Henderson said.

He said he had always been aware of the opportunities that existed for Australia, and particularly WA, given its proximity to the region.

“I found it very easy to deal with South-East Asia. I’ve found, in the fields I’m in, a general interest in working,” he said.

Mr Henderson said a lot of people tried to make a quick buck in the region and usually got burned.

While he appreciates the business value of the network he has created in South-East Asia, Mr Henderson is even happier using it for the community.

He has helped build links between WA’s universities and educational institutions in the region.

Mr Henderson is also doing what he can to promote the cause of health and research programs in Australia.

In 2002 he backed local scientist Harvey Turner to set up the Australian Institute for Radiochemical Engineering.

Associate Professor Turner now heads that institute.

“When I met Harvey I could not understand 95 per cent of what he was on about. That’s because he was so far ahead of everyone else,” Mr Henderson said.

Other scientific causes he has backed include the Centre of Excellence, Microphotonic Systems, the National Networked Tele Test Facility and the Electron Science Valley proposal.

“It’s about finding the eccentric Harvey Turners and finding out what resources they need," Mr Henderson said.

“It’s like picking a Michael Doohan or a Peter Radford and getting them the best bikes to win races.”

That motor racing theme has remained throughout Mr Henderson’s life. He still finds time to take to the track, although this time it is in the four-wheeled frame of a Formula Ford racer.

“I find, with my busy life, that motor racing helps,” he said.

“When you’re heading into a bend at 200 kilometres an hour under brakes through traffic, you find your mind starts to clear.”

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