Next chapter, another page

A month ago, I started a new interim CIO engagement. This time I am serving Stony Brook Medicine on Long Island in New York.  My last interim CIO position at University Hospitals in Cleveland ended in October. Since then, I have taken a break by design. When I started this new chapter, I wanted to work less than full time over the course of the year and have more flexibility in my life.

During this “break” period I wasn’t exactly idle though. I spent a lot of time doing start-up work for my new health IT advisory firm, StarBridge Advisors. And of course, I’ve spent plenty of time with my family, especially my four grandkids. My husband of 40+ years and I have had fun seeing each other so much but if you ask him, he’d say he was ready for me to be gone several days a week! He loves his quiet time and having the house to himself for a while.

This opportunity at Stony Brook Medicine brings a new set of challenges, but also many familiar ones I’ve seen before as a veteran healthcare CIO. Continue reading

When does the honeymoon end?

Remember those first few days on a new job? You were officially onboarded, and signed a lot of forms. You learned all the basic processes and policies that new employees need to know. And you canstockphoto31122040 onboardinggot the big picture of the organization’s mission, vision, values and culture. Your head is spinning by the end of day one and even week one, but everyone is patient with you. They recognize that it is a lot to take in.

In that early period when you are introduced to lots of people, everyone is so happy to see you. Everyone is offering to help you get up to speed, and do whatever they can to make your onboarding smooth.

And then you realize they all need something from you. They all think you can solve all the problems. But you are still given some time before you start waving your magic wand.

You’re on a honeymoon. It will be measured in days or weeks but usually not months. You must drink from the firehose, get to know all the key people and start adding value. “Proving yourself,” as they say.

You may have relocated, so you’re also getting to know your new town.

It can be exhilarating and overwhelming all at the same time. Continue reading

Yes we can: women in health IT

Think about the little girls you know. Did they get even more dolls for holiday gifts? Or did they get toys and games that teach creative thinking and how to build things? Or did they maybe even get toys officiallycanstockphoto36568604 STEM labeled in the STEM category?

Social norms start young. I recently played a match game with my two-year-old granddaughter. When we matched the truck picture, she took it over to her 6-month-old baby brother as though it was his domain! This granddaughter and her two-year-old girl cousin have a variety of developmental toys. But when it’s free play, they are often clutching one of their dolls, whether it’s Princess Sofia the First or the newest Disney Princess Elena of Avalor. At least these characters are both confident, strong and compassionate princesses!

My four-year-old granddaughter isn’t as attached to dolls these days. After a break, she is back in dance class, my birthday gift to her. I know she loves it.  At Christmas, with her mother’s advice, I gave her 3 months of Koala Crate – a creative, educational activity box for 3-5 year olds. She loved the first box – making stuffed reptiles and learning about them.

You may be saying it’s all about exposing kids to a lot of different things. I agree. But it’s important to not fall into the gender norms when they are young.

Let’s fast forward from my 3 little granddaughters to some of the female leaders in our health IT industry. Continue reading

Taking control of your life

It was a year ago that I did just that. I decided it was time to make a major life change professionally and personally. Since then, many people have wanted to learn how I did it. In fact, I spoke just this canstockphoto12123429week with a former mentee about her next professional move.

My advice was basic. Look at your last few professional moves. Why did you want to stay somewhere and why were you willing to leave? What were you looking for in the next opportunity? And what isn’t there today that you’d look for in the next opportunity.

I told her if she looks carefully at this, she’ll see a theme as to what makes her happy and what frustrates her. Then there will be more questions:

  • What kind of work do you want to do?
  • What kind of team do you want to be part of?
  • What mission will keep you committed and passionate?

But I told her not to get caught in the “grass is greener” trap. Because it’s not. Every organization has its crazy. You just need to figure out what that is and how to work effectively within it. Continue reading

Time for a job change?

It’s that time of year. With the holidays upon us, you may have a slightly more relaxed schedule at work. And you may be taking stock of where you are in your career and what might be next.canstockphoto14736747

I talk with a lot of people looking for career advice. It might be millennials early in their career who are thinking about their next opportunity. It might be mid-career management positions who are looking for that next step up. Or it might be people late in their career who are thinking about stepping off the permanent track for a less than full time work situation and a more balanced lifestyle to spend time with family or travel.

Regardless, the questions to consider are similar for everyone:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your key strengths and areas of expertise?
  • What new skills do you want to develop?
  • What new areas do you want to learn about and develop expertise in?
  • What kind of organization and culture do you want to work in?
  • What family situations do you need to consider? Are you starting a family, do you have young children at home or teenagers who need a different kind of support? Are you caring for elderly parents? What are your spouse or partner’s work hours and flexibility?
  • Do you want to and are you able to relocate to another part of the country? Are you open to anywhere or specific regions?
  • And last, but not least, what are your financial requirements?

Continue reading

Powerful women and their path to success

My first professional event since moving back to New England is the evening of Monday, November 7th. Boston Health 2.0 is a chapter of the national Health 2.0 organization. They hold monthly meetings to canstockphoto993163promote, showcase and catalyze new technologies in healthcare. The November event is a panel titled “The Power Women of Health IT: Path to Success”.

All powerful women have advice to give others and stories about obstacles they’ve overcome. This group of women panelists is no different and I’m excited to be part of it. Helen Figge, Senior Vice President, Global Strategies and Development, LumiraDx, USA, Inc., Cara Babachicos, Corporate Director/CIO, Community Hospitals, Partners Healthcare, and I were all honored to be named earlier this year to the “Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT” by Health Data Management. We look forward to sharing our perspectives and stories.

The panel will cover advice on entrepreneurship for women, how women can influence the health IT industry, differing perceptions of competency in men and women, importance of mentorship, how men can be more supportive of professional women, and obstacles we’ve overcome in our own paths to success.

This should be a great discussion with a lot of insight and advice. But which obstacle should I comment on? Looking back to my early days in management, unfortunately there are many stories to share.

There was the male colleague who had it out for me during a five-year period when I was the only woman on the IT leadership team (it was the 80’s). One of the things he did early on was to spread a rumor that I was only in management because I was related to a board member with the same last name. It was so not true; I didn’t even know the board member. Continue reading

It’s launch time

“You need to own your own career and to be open to the possibilities. It applies whether you are early, mid or late career.”

That was my opening statement in my early January blog, “New year, next chapter”, when I announced that I was leaving a permanent CIO position to pursue a new path. And it is advice I have often given others.canstockphoto27201758

It’s now my time for that next possibility and I’m excited about it. I’ve decided to launch a new health care IT advisory firm, StarBridge Advisors, with two colleagues. I’m teaming up with David Muntz and Russ Rudish.

David is a nationally recognized CIO who has served some of the largest and most complex health care provider organizations in the country including Baylor Health Care System and Texas Health Resources.  Prior to that he served as CIO and was promoted to CEO of Wadley Institutes of Molecular Medicine.  David also served as White House-appointed first Principal Deputy National Coordinator, Chief of Staff, and CIO at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Together David and I have a combined 60+ years of experience in health IT management.

Russ was the Global & US Health Care Leader for Deloitte through 2014. Prior to joining Deloitte, he was Executive Vice President of Eclipsys Corporation, overseeing all client facing activities — sales, marketing, product management, customer support, outsourcing and professional services. Upon leaving Deloitte, Russ formed Rudish Health Solutions, which focuses on strategy and M&A consulting, interim management and executive search. He also became a Principal in Health Care IT Leaders, which provides staff augmentation services.

StarBridge Advisors will provide world class IT leadership advisory and interim management services to healthcare organizations. We want to be a trusted advisor on leadership matters in the HIT marketplace and to help clients innovate, transform, lead, and make a positive impact on healthcare in the U.S. Continue reading

Shaping young minds and tomorrow’s leaders

I was running late in wrapping up a meeting before my next one. I was meeting with a young IT staff member whose manager had encouraged him to get time on my calendar for career advice. We had acanstockphoto14947189 great half hour chat about his future goals. I introduced him to the next person patiently waiting to meet with me – the manager for telehealth – a young man who was relatively new to his position. I figured they should know each other.

The telehealth manager walked into my office after the intro and said “So you’re shaping young minds”. “Absolutely!” I replied.

I have adult children and so I realize how valuable this type of access and advice can be. I saw some of the challenges my daughters faced when they graduated from college and started to navigate and grow their careers. I asked myself, “why not be available to their generation?” After all, each of us can probably remember someone who helped us early in our careers. So I concluded it was time for me to give back; I made a commitment to help develop the next generation of leaders.

Even though I have had a full schedule as a CIO, I have been willing to take short calls and meetings with anyone who wants to talk about their career and get advice from me. They may be staff members in my IT department or in other departments. They may be students who work in my organization and need to interview the CIO for a class assignment. Or they may be someone to whom a colleague has suggested that I’d be a good person to meet. Many such referrals are for young women who want to learn from me as a female executive in IT. There aren’t that many of us yet in health IT but the numbers are definitely going in the right direction.  Continue reading

Adventure in a new city

A year ago, I suggested to my husband that I would consider doing a series of interim CIO engagements. He is a retired minister and does a lot of volunteer projects for the denomination and ministers associationcanstockphoto20995234 – all from his home office. So he was supportive. His view was we’ll just have an adventure in a new city. We’d bring the dogs with, stay in an apartment and go home to check on our house once a month. That was a great working assumption.

The first interim opportunity was at University Hospitals in Cleveland, which was a great location to start this plan!  It’s just a short 3-hour drive from our home in Ann Arbor. But then we relocated from Michigan to Rhode Island in order to be near family so things didn’t work out quite as we planned. There was way too much work in Michigan to sell and move out of our house; on the other end way too much work to find a house and move into it. So I’ve spent many weeks in Cleveland on my own without my soulmate to have those new city adventures with.

But in the past 8 months, we got to know Cleveland as best we could and it’s truly been a fun adventure! Some of the highlights to pass on to our new CIO who has relocated to Cleveland from Iowa and anyone planning to visit: Continue reading

Saying goodbye

“Hi short timer”, “So you’re winding down”, “What’s next?” These are just some of the comments and questions I am getting from people I run into at work these days. Some add congratulations and that it will becanstockphoto27502107 nice for me to see my grandkids more.

 If you’ve kept up on my recent posts, you know that I’m in the final weeks of my interim CIO engagement at University Hospitals in Cleveland. The transition to the new permanent CIO started this week.

I only once left a job and organization without knowing what was next. I followed my newly ordained minister husband to a church in central Massachusetts 17 years ago. We moved from Dallas and I went into the job search and was hired as the CIO at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Now, I don’t have a firm “what’s next” beyond a much needed break, a couple of coaching engagements, and a number of leads for more interim work. And that’s OK. The idea of this next chapter I started in January was to have more flexibility and work less than full time over the course of the year. As I’ve encouraged others in the past, I am “open to the possibilities”.

In my last two CIO positions, the turnover and transition were to internal interims. I needed to provide key information they needed while recognizing that they already knew the organizations and its history. Here in Cleveland, I’m leaving an interim position after 8 months and onboarding a CIO from outside the organization. Continue reading