Broker twin takes part in COVID-19 research

When Mhairi Macleod found out Twins Research Australia was running a study on the effects of COVID-19 she knew it was right up her alley.

The director of Astute Ability Finance and her twin sister Shona had been looking for a way to make a positive impact in the community after experiencing firsthand the damaging economic effects of the pandemic.

MPA spoke with Macleod about her involvement in the study and the ways COVID-19 has affected her and her sister alike.

How COVID-19 changed their lives

As the director of a successful asset finance firm, Macleod is used to working face to face with people every day. While the coronavirus lockdown has been challenging, she says she still goes into the office to work, albeit alone.

“Coming into work gives me that stability,” she says, explaining it helps her keep things feeling normal for her clients and herself.

For her twin sister Shona, the impact on her career has been much more extreme; the flight attendant of 27 years now without work due to the pandemic.

Dealing with social isolation

Despite their different careers, Macleod says there are similarities in the way social distancing has affected them.

“The type of work that both of us do is very social,” she says.

“My sister is very much face to face contact; interacting with other people on a daily basis and quite closely. She’s servicing clients that get on an aircraft, she’s looking after their safety, she’s following procedures.”

The finance industry is also very face to face, she says, and this particular time of the year would normally have seen her going to award nights and interacting with others through PD days.

“Not having the face to face contact or the interaction with colleagues or customers has been a bit of a challenge,” she says.

“It was okay for the first few weeks, but now as both of us are probably week five or six into it, we’re feeling the need that we actually want that human interaction more and more.”

The effects on small business owners vs employees

Their different employment types have also bolstered an empathetic approach to what each sister is going through.

“I’m a small business operator, she works for a large organisation. I’ve got staff that I’ve got to look after. She is a staff member for a large organisation, so she understands what my staff are going through and I understand what she’s going through,” she says.

While she can’t discuss the questions asked as part of the study, Macleod says it tracks how each sister is dealing with the effects of the pandemic on a physical, mental, emotional and social basis in an attempt to unpack how they both react to certain situations.

In a press release, director of Twins Research Australia, Professor John Hopper says the results from the monthly survey will be used to deliver insights into way genetic and environment factors can combine to affect the health and experience of families.

This would provide invaluable real-time information to inform government, support agencies, researchers and the public about the way Australian families are coping.

“With this knowledge, we can work together to reduce the impact of the pandemic on all Australians,” he said.