Meet our People: Stuart Kwan, Astrid’s Head of Procurement

Stuart is Astrid’s Head of Procurement where he is responsible for managing commercial relationships, supply chain, inventory and products that support Astrid’s daily operations.

He oversees vital aspects of Astrid’s day-to-day functioning, including managing business partnerships, optimising the supply chain and maintaining inventory.

At the start of his career, Stuart had several years of experience in the export trade sector. Stu began his journey with Astrid in January 2023, where he was struck by Astrid’s unwavering dedication to values and ensuring quality patient care. He found Astrid’s commitment to ethical practices and prioritising patient well-being commendable, which spurred him to join the team. Inspired by Astrid’s mission, Stu enthusiastically embraced his role and sought to make a positive impact within the organisation.

Despite his remarkable accomplishments, Stuart remains a picture of tranquillity and humility, and his positive presence at Astrid is truly cherished.

Stuart’s determination and passion for the plant industry inspires us every day.

We admire his calm, can-do and quiet-achieving attitude towards all things thrown at him. 

Learn more about Stuart and his role below. 

What is your role at Astrid? Can you describe a typical day?

I mostly work from our Melbourne HQ and my days consist of sourcing and communicating with our product suppliers. I am responsible for all products that we offer and dispense at Astrid. I’m also responsible for ensuring our suppliers comply with Astrid’s legal and company policies. 

I dedicate three days of the week towards meetings with suppliers, procurement, checking in at the dispensary, any process improvements and ad hoc requests. The remaining two days of the week I work on business development, reports and administration tasks. 

What do you love about your role?

I always look forward to working at Astrid each day as it provides me with an opportunity to network with all of our suppliers and create long-term business relationships.

There are hundreds of brands and products within our industry and for our patients. It’s a privilege to be able to connect with our suppliers and source the best products for Australians. 

At Astrid, we aim to only work with the best brands and cultivars who are dedicated to creating superior products for our patients. 

Within our dispensaries, it’s been fun to help source more lifestyle products like vaporisers, skincare, supplements, candles, and exclusive Astrid products. I help source all our Astrid merch – clothing, hats, and (recently by popular demand) Jibz too. 

Why did you want to work with Astrid?

For me, it’s all about the work culture. For most of my professional career, I’ve been a part of startup teams and I like working in fast-paced environments. Astrid has been the epitome of fast-paced supporting Australians since 2020 and the Australian industry is still evolving since the law changes in 2016. Within this industry, there are always product updates, new suppliers and changes to rules that keep me engaged with my work. I knew this role would be a good challenge for me to try to find the best quality and natural products for Astrid’s patients and customers. 

What do you like about the Astrid team and culture?

I admire the Astrid team’s unity and accountability. Each and every one of our team members’ work really hard to deliver the best experience for our patients. Each of us takes ownership of our work, and at the same time supports one another. I like to compare us to an NFL team – everyone’s a star performer, we’ve got great coaches to support us and we’re here to play a big game.

Stuart with the Astrid team at Astrid Byron Bay

What do you think people need to know about the natural therapies industry?

I think Australians should know that the industry is still in the early stages – especially in comparison to overseas markets. Patients need to find individual care that works for them and that there is a wide range of clinics and dispensaries now. I love working at Astrid because we’ve always been dedicated to doing the best for our patients. 

Because the Australian market is still in the early stages, we’re still developing the long-term frameworks and regulation for the industry to be sustainable. I’ve been grateful for Astrid to be able to support progress in Australia through real stories and advocacy as we have a specific role on our team dedicated to advocacy, patient stories and providing feedback to  the relevant regulatory bodies. And we’ve got a long way to go. 

Have you faced any stigma from working with cannabis?

In 2020, when I first entered the industry, my mum was unaware of the law changes for medical use in Australia. So when I shared that I landed a new role in this new industry, my mum mistakenly believed that I had started a new career dealing in illegal substances. When in reality, I was joining the healthcare industry. 

What do you hope for the future of natural therapies?

I would love to see natural therapies be perceived as a first line treatment rather than an alternative option. At Astrid, I’m always on the lookout for the most natural, often plant-based, and nourishing products available. It’s fantastic to see more brands pop-up with those values too.  

How does Astrid support you, your work-life balance, and your overall well-being?

Astrid provides me with all the support and tools that I need to carry out my tasks effectively. The management team, Lisa and Hansen, are always approachable, available, and very supportive. They have a great way of empowering their team to take ownership of tasks and support me to find the best natural therapy products for our patients. Our monthly team bonding over Korean BBQ is also a highlight. 

How do you stay up to date with the latest industry updates as well as the product or supplier updates?

I aim to stay up to date with the latest developments and updates by attending industry events and speaking with our current and potential new suppliers regularly. I love hearing feedback from patients about products they’ve tried, they’ve got benefit from, or that they didn’t like. So I also try to speak with as many patients as possible and also use review sites. 

Complete our Questionnaire to find out if you’re eligible for natural medicine with Astrid Clinic: astrid.health/astrid-clinic-services


Meet Our People: Olivia Lackmann, Senior Nurse Lead at Astrid Clinic

Olivia (Liv) is our Senior Nurse Lead and is a Registered Nurse with many years of clinical experience and specialty in surgical nursing, palliative care and general practice.

Liv holds a leadership position with our team of nurses, is responsible for clinical quality improvement processes, and continues to lead our educational activities. 

Given the constant updates regarding the industry, Liv plays a key role supporting the Astrid nursing team to stay informed and flexible while focusing on patient-centric care.

Fascinated by the incredible impact natural therapies can have, Liv loves discussing outcomes with her patients. For years, Liv has been supporting patients and other healthcare professionals to better understand the natural therapies industry. 

Liv’s dedication to education stems from a passion to break down the stigma associated with natural therapies in Australia and works with the goal of empowering patients to better manage their overall health.

In the same year that Astrid won Company of the Year at the 2023 Cannabiz Awards, Liv was awarded Highly Commended in the Best Industry Newcomer category. In the 2024 Cannabiz Awards, Liz was nominated for the Nurse of the Year award.

In her down-time, you’ll find Liv exploring the Mornington Peninsula with her husband and twins. Learn more about Liv and her role below. 

Olivia at the Astrid Clinic launch event in South Yarra Melbourne

What do you love about your role?

For several years I’ve been working closely with Dr Shu at the Astrid Clinic. I love working with a team of like-minded professionals who see the real benefit in the work we do. It’s amazing to be a part of such a passionate team of healthcare experts and we share so much knowledge between us. I really enjoy discussing outcomes with patients and supporting our nursing team to tailor treatment plans for individuals needs. 

With our patients, I love supporting them to understand their treatment options, tracking changes with their wellbeing over time, and exploring the potential benefits of these therapies – especially the role of terpenes for various conditions. 

One of the best things about working with Astrid is being a part of an exciting and growing industry that challenges conventional views on healthcare. We have made progress but still have a long way to go to educate the Australian healthcare workforce and everyday Australians about this medicine. 

Why did you want to work with Astrid?

My first experience with Astrid was as a patient many years ago, a short time after Astrid first launched. The Astrid Founder, CEO and Pharmacist Lisa Nguyen was the pharmacist who supported me through my prescribed products in the beautiful South Yarra dispensary. I was so impressed with the whole process, with how she explained everything so clearly, with how accessible it felt, and I thought at the time that Astrid would be such a wonderful place to work. 

Since then, I’ve been so grateful to join Lisa, Dr Shu and to be a part of the team supporting patients to use this medicine in a healthy way to help  take care of their overall wellbeing. Astrid prioritises advocating for our patients wellbeing, but also supports its team by recognising the importance of a good work and life balance. 

What do you like about the Astrid team and culture?

The Astrid team works together really well. We’re all generally really passionate about what we do on a day-to-day basis – which is a great environment to be in. We have our different roles, but we work collectively to break down the stigma around natural therapies.  We love empowering each other to reach our goals. And we love empowering our patients to reach their full potential. 

Have you faced any stigma from working with cannabis?

While attitudes toward this industry of medicine is slowly shifting, there is still stigma in healthcare, the legal system, and among the broader population. 

As a nurse, I feel it is important to continue to advocate for increased awareness and educate patients about the potential benefits of the plant. I would hope my efforts have a flow-on effect on patients and the wider community to further decrease stigma.

What do you hope for the future of natural therapies?

Like everyone on the Astrid team, I’ve got high hopes for the future of natural therapies. 

Slowly, we’re seeing the increase in quality research and clinical trials around natural therapies – and I’d love to see more of this. The endocannabinoid system was discovered in the mid 1990s and people have been studying this flower for a few decades now, however this is still often not recognised or taught in medical curriculum. I’d love to see this included as a part of the tertiary nursing syllabus in Australia. 

I really appreciate the work Astrid has been doing to support the driving law changes, as regulatory changes are long overdue to make this more accessible treatment option for more patients. 

I also hope we see more workplace acceptance across all industries for this to be treated as what it is – medicine. 

How do you stay up to date with the latest industry updates as well as the product or supplier updates?

The industry changes so frequently so I try to use a range of resources to stay informed. 

I read medical and industry journal articles. I regularly attend webinars and I’ve enjoyed attending the UIC Symposium in the past. At Astrid, I make sure I stay up to date with new products via our internal emails from our Head of Procurement, and from various suppliers too. 

Online, I regularly check Cannareviews and Cannabiz in Australia for the latest news, updates and insights from patients. 


Celebrate 420 with Astrid: A Journey Through Culture and Patient Care

April 20th, known globally as 4/20, has evolved from an underground gathering to a major cultural event celebrating cannabis culture and its journey towards acceptance alongside medical recognition. 

This day marks not just a celebration but also a reflection on the progress and challenges within the community, especially here in Australia.

The History of 420: From California to Australia

The term 4/20 originated in the 1970s in California, coined by a group called the ‘Waldos’ who would gather at 4:20 pm to enjoy the elusive plant. It gained traction among fans of the Grateful Dead rock band and has since become a symbol of widespread cultural acceptance.

This cultural momentum culminated in 2003 when California state introduced the bill California Senate Bill 420  – “Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act”’ where they launched a medical cannabis program and identification cards to be able to support both patients and carers. In 2016, California fully legalised the use, sale and cultivation of recreational cannabis for people over 21. 

This significant legislative move mirrored Australia’s own legal advancements. Over the past decade, Australia has seen remarkable progress towards acceptance, with more than 50% of Australians supporting the legalisation of personal cannabis cultivation. In 2016, the Therapeutics Goods Administration took a monumental step by approving the use of medicinal cannabis for certain treatments. Building on this progress, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) passed progressive laws in 2020, further legalising personal use and cultivation.

Australia’s cannabis advocacy extends beyond legislation, with communities like Nimbin, NSW, leading the charge since the 1970s. Located just over an hour from the Astrid Byron Bay Dispensary, Nimbin has championed the holistic use of cannabis. The town hosts the annual MardiGrass law reform rally and festival, beginning in 1993 as a peaceful protest against raids and arrests. Additionally, major cities have witnessed significant public events, including picnics, protests, and “Who Are We Hurting” demonstrations.

Now around the world, 420 has always been a day of peace and celebration – a symbol of a happy and healthy community. 

Join Us in Celebrating 420 with Astrid South Yarra, VIC  

This year, Astrid invites the community to delve into the world of alternative medicine and holistic health.

Whether you’re new to plant-based medicine or a seasoned advocate, Astrid is here to support your journey towards wellness.

Our event is more than a gathering; it’s a testament to the power of community, education, and the transformative potential of plant-based therapies.

What’s happening 

  • Connect with the Astrid team and community at one of our favourite events of the year
  • Freebies for everyone (coffee + cookies + merch!)
  • Be in the chance to WIN A $420 PRIZE PACK

Where and when 

  • Date: Saturday 20th April, 2024
  • Time: 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm 
  • Location: Astrid Dispensary South Yarra, 575 Chapel St, South Yarra VIC 3141, Australia

Event partners

Campos Coffee, The Pot Dispensary 

If you can’t attend the event and want to learn more about how plant-based medicines can support your health and well-being, reach out to our friendly team at Astrid. 

Subscribe to the Astrid newsletter to stay up to date with our latest news and events. 


Meet our People: Dr Shu Ng, Astrid Clinic Chief Medical Officer

In the evolving landscape of natural healthcare, Dr. Shu Ng shines as a beacon of innovation and compassion.

With a background in medical and surgical specialties, Dr. Shu’s career path has been anything but ordinary. Dr. Shu’s journey has been driven by a passion to explore the potential of medicinal cannabis in managing not just chronic pain and cancer-related symptoms, but also a spectrum of health conditions including mental health issues, women’s health, and neurological disorders.

As an early adopter and authorised prescriber of cannabinoid medicine, Dr. Shu has guided thousands of patients, emphasising the importance of careful titration, vigilant monitoring for potential side effects, and ongoing follow-up alongside advocating its benefits amidst the challenges of stigma and regulatory hurdles.

In this blog, we delve into the world of Dr. Shu Ng, exploring her insights, experiences, and the transformative power of medicinal cannabis through the lens of a practitioner who embodies the future of healthcare—a future where compassion, innovation, and holistic care converge to redefine patient wellness. 

Can you tell us about your background and what led you to become a medicinal cannabis doctor? 

After graduating from Monash University in Melbourne, I have been practising medicine in Australia for 14 years with experience in general medicine, general surgery and oncology. I spent 18 months in New York City and completed a Radiation Oncology research fellowship culminating in four first-author peer-reviewed publications, five co-author peer-reviewed publications and two international conference presentations. I also completed a Master of Public Health through University of Sydney in 2016 and am currently completing a fellowship with the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine. 

I remember having my first conversation in 2017 about medicinal cannabis with a patient during my specialist training in radiation oncology. He was using medicinal cannabis to alleviate pain from his metastatic cancer. At that time, I was completely ignorant that medicinal cannabis had been legalised in Australia in 2016, and growing up in Singapore where drug-related offences may be met with the death penalty, I was both conservative and sceptical about what I thought sounded like backyard bush illegal activities. 

In early 2020, I had an opportunity to consult with one of Melbourne’s first medicinal cannabis clinics. It was an incredibly steep learning curve as not only was cannabis medicine not taught as part of medical school curriculum or part of any specialist training, I also had to reframe my own mindset and keep an open and curious mind. 

Four years on after having personally managed over 2,500 patients and witnessed the countless positive outcomes, I have become an advocate for its applications across a wide range of health and wellbeing needs.

In 2023, Lisa Nguyen and I teamed up to spearhead the Clinic support services at Astrid, leading a dedicated team of 40 professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and patient specialists, all committed to guiding our patients on their healthcare and wellness journey.  

What is the most rewarding aspect of working with medicinal cannabis and patients?

Having been a medical doctor working in different medical and surgical specialties in Australia, I have managed patients with a wide variety of conditions and symptoms with conventional medicine. I have never seen any medication work the way that cannabis does for such a multitude of symptoms, and with a comparatively low side effect profile than other medications. It is really rewarding to hear the positive patient feedback on a daily basis and supporting patients when they face challenges or side effects. 

Education is also extremely important at Astrid and I take that role seriously in ensuring that not only are our patients informed about their medicines, but also that our clinic doctors and nurses keep abreast of the latest developments in cannabinoid medicine. There is still a lot of misconception and stigma regarding cannabis, and I have enjoyed being invited to deliver talks and webinars to various healthcare professionals and patient groups about the landscape and potential uses of cannabis medicine in Australia.

What are some misconceptions you come across about medicinal cannabis, and how do you address them with your patients?

One of the most common misconceptions about medicinal cannabis is that it is only available as a last line treatment option, and patients must have tried and failed all sorts of medications before being able to be considered for it. While it should not be first line therapy, and should be considered as part of a holistic medical management, people do not need to wait till they are at their wits’ end before considering access.

While strong and high level research supporting medicinal cannabis may not be substantial (due to years of prohibition and a very complex set of compounds), there is an abundance of other evidence that suggests that the therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis can be very real for many.

Another misconception is that medicinal cannabis always leads to psychoactive effects. We educate our patients about the different cannabinoids, like CBD (cannabidiol), or even minor cannabinoids and terpenes which can offer therapeutic benefits without the psychoactive effects associated with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). By personalising treatment plans and focusing on the specific needs and concerns of each patient, we demystify medicinal cannabis and highlight its role in holistic health management.

Dr Shu Ng and her team of nurses and doctors at Astrid Clinic

What do you see as the future of medicinal cannabis in Australia, and what developments are you most excited about?

The future of the industry in Australia is incredibly promising. In recent years, we’ve seen astounding growth of new products for patients, and many that extend beyond the major cannabinoids THC and CBD. With the ongoing changes in legislation and the growing body of research, we’re on the cusp of a significant shift in how medicinal cannabis is perceived and utilised within the healthcare system. I’m most excited about the potential for integrating medicinal cannabis into mainstream healthcare, offering patients a natural alternative or adjunct to traditional medications.

We are on the way to a more integrative and holistic approach to medicine. With each year that passes we have increased acceptance and awareness of medicinal cannabis among healthcare professionals and the general public. As we continue to advocate for and educate for cannabinoids as an option, I look forward to seeing it become a staple in patient care transforming lives and improving health outcomes.

What’s next for Astrid Clinic? How would you like to see it grow in the future? 

As we look to the future, Astrid Clinic is poised for transformative growth. Our vision surpasses the existing paradigms, aiming to pioneer new paths in healthcare and wellness. We are committed to innovating and leading in the development of therapeutic practices, setting new standards for patient care and treatment. We envision Astrid becoming a holistic healthcare destination, for anyone interested in integrating natural wellness into their lives. Our growth strategy includes expanding our telehealth services to reach more Australians, regardless of their location, ensuring that access to expert medical advice on plant-based medicines is just a call away. 

Moreover, we’re focusing on research and development, collaborating with industry leaders and academic institutions to advance our understanding of plant-based medicines and their applications. This will not only enhance our service offerings but also contribute to the global body of knowledge in this field.

In essence, Astrid Clinic aims to be at the forefront of the plant-based medicine revolution, offering a comprehensive range of services that cater to the evolving health and wellness needs of our community. We’re committed to fostering an environment of innovation, education, and compassion, ensuring that our patients receive the highest standard of care.

At Astrid, we already provide a range of natural lifestyle products, skincare and self-care at our Dispensary locations in Melbourne and Byron – some that include hemp and terpenes. 

What are some common medical conditions you are treating with natural therapies at Astrid Clinic? 

At Astrid Clinic, we specialise in a holistic approach to health, treating a wide array of conditions with natural therapies. Management of chronic non-cancer pain, mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, and insomnia continue to be the most common conditions/symptoms that people seek medicinal cannabis for. Chronic non-cancer pain can be quite a broad category but can include conditions like arthritis, endometriosis, migraines, fibromyalgia, etc. At Astrid, we’re dedicated to the care of our patients and ensure that each one gets personalised healthcare advice tailored to their needs. Often patients we see are likely to have multiple symptoms that may be related to each other. For example, a patient with anxiety may also have secondary insomnia, and vice versa. This patient-centred approach underscores our commitment to improving quality of life through innovative and compassionate care.

What advice do you have for patients who are considering medicinal cannabis as a treatment option?

If you are considering natural therapies to treat a condition, speak to your regular doctor or GP about it. Take the Astrid pre-screening questionnaire to find out in a few minutes if you’re eligible.  

Astrid Dispensary and Clinic is now located in both South Yarra, Melbourne VIC and Byron Bay, Northern Rivers NSW, with a new dispensary location set to launch in 2024. 

Learn more here about starting your journey with natural therapies.


Astrid Celebrates International Women’s Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day,  a day acknowledging how women’s development and economic empowerment are central to a gender equal world. 

While important progress has been made for women, many still have to overcome obstacles to participate equally within communities. The healthcare industry is one that’s always going through radical changes – and as a team led by incredible women in healthcare at Astrid, we’re excited to see more women leaders use innovation to solve more problems in healthcare. 

The IWD theme for 2024 is Count Her In – investing in women and accelerating progress. 

Below we’ve interviewed some of the women leaders at Astrid who share their first-hand experiences in the industry. Learn from their advice for women stepping into healthcare, what it’s like to work with strong women leaders, challenges they’ve faced, and thoughts on the future of women in healthcare. 

Introducing the women leaders of Astrid

Lisa Nguyen

Founder at Astrid Dispensary & Clinic

What do you love about being within a team of women leaders?

Building the Astrid team has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Since day one, I’ve tried to create an environment that fosters innovation, empathy, and a shared commitment to excellence in patient care. To support growth, I think leaders need to create safe and inclusive spaces where every team member feels valued and heard. I’m impressed by each person on our team and I love seeing my team grow – within their roles, personally and sometimes when they leave Astrid.  

My motivation to create a healthy work environment was drawn from the numerous exceptional leaders I’ve met in previous positions and academic settings. They have illuminated the crucial aspects of effective leadership and team nurturing, including valuable lessons – on both the dos and don’ts of guiding a team. This blend of inspiration and constant learning has been pivotal in shaping our approach leadership at Astrid. We place a big emphasis on compassion, resilience, and the pursuit of excellence. 

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in healthcare?

My advice is to embrace the journey with patience, passion and dedication. The path involves rigorous study and practical experience, which are both critical in building a solid foundation in healthcare. We’ve got to be continuously learning. 

Healthcare is not just about science; it’s profoundly about people. 

Take every opportunity to learn, engage with diverse teams, and immerse yourself in different aspects of healthcare. The landscape is evolving, and your curiosity and willingness to adapt will be your greatest assets. In my journey from a clinical pharmacist to the founder of Astrid, I tried to seek out hands-on opportunities and those valuable real-world experiences. 

The landscape of healthcare, especially our industry, is ever-evolving. Each person’s contribution can lead to transformative changes in patient care and the broader healthcare system. Staying curious and adaptable is key to making a meaningful impact.

How do you see the role of women in healthcare evolving in the next decade?

The next decade promises an exciting evolution for women in healthcare. We’re on the cusp of witnessing an unprecedented increase in female representation across all levels, particularly in leadership and decision-making roles. This shift is not just about numbers; it’s about the diverse perspectives and innovative approaches to longstanding challenges that women bring to the table. 

As healthcare continues to face complex challenges, the insights, empathy, and resilience of women will be instrumental in driving forward-thinking solutions, policy reforms, and patient-centred care. The growth of female-led initiatives, like Astrid, exemplifies the shifting dynamics and the potential for women to shape the future of healthcare, particularly in emerging fields like natural medicines and prevention wellness.

The future will see women not only filling these roles but redefining them, ensuring healthcare is more inclusive, equitable, and effective than ever before.

What are your biggest learning moments or challenges you’ve overcome in your career journey?

My career journey, particularly within our industry sector, has been filled with learning moments and challenges. One of the most significant challenges I’ve faced was navigating the complexities of the medicinal cannabis industry from its infancy in Australia. Engaging with pharmacy staff on the frontlines, advocating for patient access, and destigmatizing use required resilience and adaptability. 

Trusting in my vision for Astrid and aiming high were essential. 

Each obstacle, from funding hurdles to changing public perception, reinforced the belief that perseverance and a patient-centred approach can lead to remarkable outcomes. 

When we first launched, I was the pharmacist on the front-line during the pandemic. Since then, we’ve built bigger strategies and systems at Astrid so our patients can benefit from individualised care. I work hard to inspire our staff to see the transformative power of believing in goals and aspirations. 

Dr Shu Ng

Chief Medical Officer at Astrid Clinic

What do you love about being within a team of women leaders?

Being part of a team of women leaders in healthcare is incredibly empowering. It’s been an amazing journey to work so closely with Lisa Nguyen at Astrid. It’s a dynamic environment where quality patient care is the top priority, and there’s a shared understanding of the unique challenges and perspectives we bring to the table. The collective focus on compassion, innovation, and excellence in patient care not only drives positive outcomes but also inspires and motivates me to continually strive for excellence in my own practice.

It’s inspiring to see how others can lead by example, showing that leadership in healthcare is enriched by diversity and a deep commitment to making a difference in patients’ lives. This shared commitment fosters a collaborative and supportive atmosphere, where each leader brings her own strengths and perspectives to the table. 

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in healthcare?

My advice to other women considering a career in healthcare is to follow your curiosity and passion. This field offers a vast array of opportunities to make a significant impact on individual lives and the broader community. 

Embrace the chance to collaborate with various organisations and join member groups; these experiences will enrich your professional journey and expand your network. 

Healthcare is not just about clinical practice; it’s about continuous learning, collaboration, and contributing to the broader community. Your passion and dedication can lead to groundbreaking advancements in patient care and treatment. Seek out experiences that broaden your perspective, deepen your knowledge, and enhance your skills. 

How do you see the role of women in healthcare evolving in the next decade?

In the next decade, I see the role of women in healthcare not only expanding but also becoming more pivotal in shaping the future of medicine. 

As healthcare faces complex challenges and transformations, the diverse perspectives, empathy, and leadership skills that women bring will be crucial in driving innovation, policy, and patient care practices. This shift will not only influence policy and practice but also encourage a more holistic approach to patient care, research, and education. 

I anticipate more women taking on leadership and decision making roles, from clinical settings to healthcare technology and research, further breaking down barriers and fostering a more inclusive and equitable healthcare system. 

The evolution will be marked by a greater emphasis on collaborative, patient-centred care, with women leading the charge in holistic and compassionate approaches to treatment and wellness.

What are your biggest learning moments or challenges you’ve overcome in your career journey?

One of the most significant learning moments in my career was the realisation of the impact our industry really has on patient care, which led me to pivot my focus and become an advocate for its use in palliative and chronic care. Overcoming the challenges associated with research, patient care, and navigating the complexities of the healthcare system has been incredibly rewarding.

Additionally, before I joined Astrid, I personally managed over 2,500 patients and now with 20,000 patients at Astrid, my journey has taught me the importance of individualised care and the power of resilience and adaptability in medicine. Each patient is unique and we strive to stay up to date with the latest innovations while customising each experience. It can be quite the challenge. 

Kady Chemal

Chief Operating Officer at Astrid Dispensary and Clinic

What do you love about being within a team of women leaders?

Women leaders, in my experience, tend to be very collaborative, empathetic, and innovative, which creates a supportive and motivating environment. 

It’s the diversity of thought, resilience, and the unique perspectives that each woman brings to the table that I find most enriching. This synergy not only drives us towards our common goals but also fosters a culture of inclusivity and respect. 

The strength that comes from embracing diversity is something I deeply value and love about being within Astrid’s remarkable group of leaders. Moreover, as a leader, I am privileged with the humbling responsibility of nurturing the growth of other women, and the profound joy it brings me is beyond words.

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in healthcare?

To women considering a career in healthcare, my advice is to embrace your interests and let them guide you. The healthcare industry offers a vast landscape of opportunities, and finding your niche, especially in the range of areas available now, can be both challenging and rewarding. 

The path may not always be straightforward, but your unique perspective and contributions are essential in shaping the future of healthcare. 

Remember, resilience, adaptability and your intuition are your greatest assets.

How do you see the role of women in healthcare evolving in the next decade?

In the coming decade, the expanding role of women in healthcare will bring heightened attention to issues that uniquely affect women. As more women assume leadership positions and actively participate in healthcare decision-making, there will be increased focus on addressing women’s health concerns, such as endometriosis.

March, designated as Endometriosis Awareness Month, serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by millions of women worldwide. With greater representation of women in healthcare leadership roles, I anticipate enhanced advocacy efforts, research initiatives, and improved access to care for conditions like endometriosis.

The presence of more women in healthcare leadership positions will not only empower women to take charge of their health, but also will foster a more inclusive and supportive healthcare environment for all.

What are your biggest learning moments or challenges you’ve overcome in your career journey?

This sentiment may resonate with many other women, even those pursuing different career paths- my personal journey involved overcoming deeply ingrained thought patterns inherited from my upbringing. Transitioning from a closed mindset to one of growth demanded intense self-reflection and a confrontation of my own limitations. Though the journey was tough, filled with self-doubt and internal conflict, my determination and commitment to personal development led  me towards a transformative shift in perspective.

Today, I perceive challenges not as obstacles, but as avenues for personal growth and self-improvement. Through this transformation, I’ve learned the invaluable lesson that resilience is an innate quality, cultivated from within. Embracing change and adversity has not only fortified my spirit, it has profoundly enriched my life, infusing every aspect with purpose and meaning.

Olivia Lackman

Senior Nurse Lead at Astrid Clinic

What do you love about being within a team of women leaders?

Being a part of a team of women leaders creates an empowering atmosphere that nurtures personal and professional development, which can be transformative for members of the team.

The diversity of perspectives and approaches not only enriches our collective understanding, but also enhances our ability to innovate and lead with empathy.

There’s also mutual support and encouragement that we share. There’s a strong sense of camaraderie among women leaders who are driven by a shared passion for making a positive impact on people’s lives. This support network is invaluable as it not only propels us forward in our careers but also reinforces our commitment to helping others feel their best in their health and wellness journey.

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in healthcare?

For women contemplating a career in healthcare, my advice is to embrace your uniqueness and your strengths. Healthcare is an ever-evolving field, and staying informed and skilled is an essential path. To ensure the best chances of long-term success, it’s important to place emphasis on continual learning and skills development. 

It’s helpful to seek out mentors who embody the qualities and achievements you aspire to. These mentors can offer invaluable guidance and support as you navigate your career changes.

Remember that healthcare offers a vast array of opportunities. If one area doesn’t seem like the right fit, don’t be discouraged. There’s a niche for everyone, and finding yours may just require a bit of exploration.

How do you see the role of women in healthcare evolving in the next decade?

Over the next decade, I anticipate significant shifts in the role of women in healthcare. There will likely be a greater emphasis on achieving work-life balance, with more support systems in place to help women navigate the demands of their professional and personal lives. 

Additionally, I expect to see an increase in women’s representation in leadership positions, reflecting a broader trend towards gender equality in the workplace. Astrid is already leading by example in this regard. 

Another exciting development will be the growing advocacy for women’s health issues. As awareness increases, we’ll see more tailored approaches to addressing these concerns, ensuring that healthcare becomes more inclusive and responsive to the needs of women.

What are your biggest learning moments or challenges you’ve overcome in your career journey?

My career journey has been filled with learning moments and challenges, each offering valuable lessons. In a demanding field like healthcare, taking care of oneself is essential to sustainably caring for others. Also balancing career aspirations with family and personal commitments has taught me the importance of setting priorities and boundaries. I’ve learned to recognise the importance of self-care and self-preservation for the long-term – and I try to encourage all healthcare professionals to take care of themselves too. 

Embracing failure as a learning opportunity has also been transformative. Failures are not setbacks but stepping stones to greater understanding and resilience. 

To start your journey with natural medicine, complete our free pre-screening questionnaire here or follow us on Instagram for more @astrid.dispensary


Meet Our People: Lisa Nguyen, Founder and Australian trained pharmacist

Have you ever wondered how Astrid came to be and the brains behind it all? Meet Lisa Nguyen, Astrid’s founder and Australian trained pharmacist.

Lisa gained extensive experience early on in the medicinal cannabis industry as a Clinical Pharmacist and a Medical Science Liaison.

As an early adopter in the Australian Medicinal Cannabis sector; her journey in the pharmaceutical cannabis space commenced shortly after legalisation. Lisa worked with early prescribing doctors to navigate the complex regulatory prescribing process in various therapeutic areas. 

In 2020, Lisa left the corporate cannabis world and founded Astrid – Australia’s first boutique female-led dispensary specialising in medicinal cannabis.

Lisa’s vision for Astrid has always been completely people and patient focused; with the dispensary design intent for removing the stigma associated with cannabis. Subverting clinical and cold perceptions of the traditional pharmacy model, Astrid is illustrative of the wider conversation that is needed in destigmatising cannabis. 

Since then, Astrid has transformed and grown into Australia’s leading and multi-award winning dispensary, taking the title of numerous awards including Cannabiz Dispensary Of The Year in 2021/2023, Cannabiz Company of the Year 2023. Melbourne Design Awards in 2021, Top 20 Australian Retailer of the Year 2022 and short listed in the Idea Awards in 2022. 

Lisa and her team at Astrid Dispensary and Clinic

As a visionary, Lisa believes in leading and innovating with empathy. This is seen in every touch point of the Astrid brand – Astrid’s reputation for patient care, compassion, empathy are unparalleled. As such, in 2023, Commonwealth Bank awarded her with the CommBank Young Hero award, recognising her as Rising Star of the Year for her innovative and transformative work with Astrid.

Lisa was also recognised by the Australian Journal of Pharmacy as Australia’s Top 20 Pharmacists, recognising her as Australia’s most Trailblazing Pharmacist. Since then, Astrid has been recognised by numerous mainstream media, including Forbes Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald and Labible. 

Outside of Astrid, Lisa is passionate about cannabinoid education and research. She has worked with global and local organisations to help create educational content for pharmacists, including The Pharmacy Guild, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia,  Australian Journal for Pharmacists, and The Lambert Institute and Sydney University. 

Astrid Dispensary and Clinic is now located in both South Yarra, Melbourne VIC and Byron Bay, Northern Rivers NSW, with a new dispensary location set to launch in 2024. 

Learn more here about starting your journey with natural medicine


Astrid’s EOY Party in Melbourne 

To conclude 2023 on a high note, Astrid Dispensary & Clinic hosted a spectacular year-end event, bringing together the Astrid team and our extended community to celebrate and reflect on the remarkable milestones achieved throughout the year.

From earning prestigious titles such as Cannabiz’s Company of the Year and Dispensary of the Year to gaining recognition in media outlets like @forbes, our Astrid journey has been extraordinary. We are filled with gratitude for these accomplishments and wanted to take a moment to revel in the success that our collective efforts have brought.

Behind every milestone stands our incredible team of nurses, pharmacists, and doctors – the true magic of Astrid. Recognising the tireless dedication of our healthcare professionals, we aimed to ensure they could relax and celebrate. As caregivers, we often find ourselves giving to others, and this was the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate our own well-being.

At Astrid, we take pride in having a team that not only works together seamlessly but genuinely enjoys each other’s company. This camaraderie translates into a workplace where passion and enjoyment intersect, fostering a culture of growth and trust. This collaborative spirit enables us to better serve our patients, and for that, we are immensely grateful to our entire Astrid team.

During the event, we took the opportunity to acknowledge and applaud team members who went above and beyond to embody Astrid’s vision in 2023. Congratulations to the following outstanding individuals:

  • Dispensary Team Member of the Year: Lucy Miceli
  • Clinic Team Member of the Year: Olivia Lackmann
  • Head Office Superstar: Sarah Rajah
  • All Rounder of the Year: Bee Mohamed

A heartfelt thank you goes out to our stakeholders and doctors who joined us for the celebration. Your collaboration has been invaluable, and we look forward to continuing our partnership in the coming year.

As we bid farewell to 2023, we’re not only proud of our achievements but also excited about the big plans we have in store for Astrid in 2024. Get ready for some exciting changes! Take a glimpse inside the festivities at Astrid’s 2023 End of Year Party below: