Find your voice, a mentor, and be bold

The week started with #Oprah2020 trending on Twitter. If you missed Oprah’s inspirational speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday night you can find it on YouTube. Who doesn’t love Oprah? But, should we canstockphoto13471338 (002) mentorelect another president who lacks government experience?

But these aren’t the questions I want to address. A Slate article by Dahlia Lithwick got my attention on Monday. She said the real message of Oprah’s speech wasn’t about her but about us. Do we feel empowered enough to act. She focused on women running for office at all levels. And that led me to think more about empowerment.

While that buzz was happening on Monday, I was in a daylong meeting with a small group of women leaders from various industries. We had been brought together by the first female president of a large, national organization to discuss the challenges women in leadership face. It was an insightful discussion as stories were shared, dissected, and analyzed.

As I bring this back to health IT, I’m not going to rehash the stories and lessons from my experience as a female IT leader over the years. I’ve shared some of them in previous posts. Rather, I want to again encourage you to take steps to own your career and find ways to develop yourself. Find your voice and speak up. Find the mentors you need to help you. And be bold.

HIMSS18 is less than 2 months away. To get the most out of the annual conference you need to make choices and plan your time there carefully. There are many ways to invest in “you” while there, including education and networking.

I’ve had the opportunity to present at many previous HIMSS conferences on a range of topics. This year, I was asked to support the Career Fair and the Women in HIT sessions. I’m committed to developing the next generation of leaders, so I gladly said yes! Continue reading

Another year, another chance

Whatever resolutions or goals, personal or professional, you had in 2017 – it’s time to revisit, revise, and recommit. The most common ones are go to the gym, eat healthy, lose weight, read more, watch less TV, canstockphoto24043991 (002) NYEspend more time with your family, get organized.

And then there are bigger, loftier goals. My daughter has a saying on the wall of her home office, “Do Something Great Today”. It means doing something bigger than herself.  For her, it is helping her company act more responsibly, to act more sustainably. It is a great motivator to live her values and find ways to have a greater impact.

She also has her personal mission statement on her office wall – “live a life that I’d want for my two daughters”. If she wants something for them, then she must do the same – like be healthy or be a good friend.

I was inspired by a Happy New Year post on LinkedIn from Vicki Davis, VP at Healthcare IT Leaders. She said, “No matter what life has for us, we should enjoy every minute of it. Celebrate the beginning of a new year the most, as it is a clean slate. Set positive goals and resolutions. Hang them where you can see them every hour of the new year. Choose your actions and words wisely this year so that you are remembered as a good human being, a great friend and a true guide when you end this year.”

We all are driven by different motivations. But fundamentally, I believe we all want to be good people and do good for others.

I look forward to another year of learning and making a difference through my client work and the non-profit organizations where I volunteer my time. With my colleagues at StarBridge Advisors, we work with organizations to advance healthcare by leveraging technology.

While I have yet to formulate any bigger than me goals for this year, I am recommitting to some basic resolutions. Continue reading

You need to own your own career

December brings the holidays and social time with co-workers, friends and family. It’s also a good time to take stock and reflect on your work and career. Two years ago at this time I planned my next chapter and canstock120117 careerdecided to leave a permanent CIO position. My two goals were to live where I wanted to live and have more flexibility in my career.

I talk with a lot of people at different stages of their career who are taking stock and trying to figure out their choices.

They may be in their 30’s, relatively young in their career, and thinking about the next right move and where that would position them for the long run.

Or, they may be someone in their 50’s or early 60’s and thinking about how long they want to work and the one final job change that might make the capstone to their career.

Or, they may be someone who has made the decision to “retire”, but not quite yet. They are considering what kind of work they still want to do, and how much.

For people in that last group, I ask them to think about 3 questions:

  • What do you want to do? After all, what you are good at and enjoy the most?
  • How much do you want to work?  If you’ve been working 60+ hours a week at a demanding job, it’s time to consider how much time you want for yourself, your family, your other passions and hobbies.
  • What do you need financially? There are 3 ways to look at it: continue at roughly the same income level and continue contributing to your retirement, make enough to live on but not contribute any further to retirement, or start drawing on your retirement savings.

Until you ask and answer these important questions, it’s hard to make a solid plan.

For people younger in their career, these questions still apply. But there are others: Continue reading

One year anniversary, how are we doing?

For the first birthdays of my four grandkids, there have been party hats and “smash” cakes. But what does a small team of entrepreneurs do on the first anniversary of founding their firm? They take stock and plan canstockphoto48088945for year two.

David Muntz, Russ Rudish and I launched StarBridge Advisors in October of 2016. So how does a health IT advisory firm measure success after year one?

Number of clients – We have already assisted 12 healthcare provider organizations with some repeat engagements and have national reach.

Revenue – Any first-year projections can be a crapshoot but you need to start somewhere. We may have been overly optimistic but we are well on our way with our client base and pipeline.

Size of our team – In addition to our three principals, we now have almost 20 advisors on our team available for interim management, leadership support and consulting. Their IT leadership experience includes serving as CIO, CTO, CISO, CMIO or CNIO in healthcare organizations.

Channel partners – We work closely with several larger consulting firms who offer services that we don’t. We partner with Healthcare IT Leaders, a leading staffing firm and Rudish Executive Search, which specializes in healthcare.  And we are working with a few start-up technology vendors who are bringing to market new and novel solutions for healthcare providers.

Referrals – Our principals combined have over 90 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Our relationships are a key component of growing a new business and getting known in the market.

Name and brand recognition – A year ago we had decided on a name and incorporated, but had yet to figure out our branding. That was some fun work at first; by January we launched our website and social media presence. Continue reading

Family support systems: priceless

I am regularly reminded how much young working couples with children need family support systems. Even with the new more flexible work arrangements and the ability to work from home occasionally or on canstockphoto43984614a permanent basis, working parents need help from time to time.

We have four young working parents in our family. They balance the demands of their jobs and raising young children. That’s my two daughters and our sons-in-law or as my husband called them on Father’s Day, “active duty dads”. And he of course is an “active duty grandpa” when needed.

My oldest daughter is a nurse practitioner who works three 12 hour shifts a week and a fourth shift one week a month. She has an hour plus drive each way to the hospital. She leaves the house before her 1-year-old and 2-year-old children are awake. She gets home in time for bath and bedtime stories.

On the days she works, my son-in-law gets the children up, dressed, fed and off to the day care center. He is a senior loan officer at a mortgage company with an office in downtown Boston. He takes the train in and out and works from home a few days a week. Continue reading

Take time to reboot

It’s that time of year. Maybe you just did a spring break trip with your kids or you are planning your summer getaway. Whatever it may be, you need to take time to reboot. Aruba sunset

Leave the job behind and leave good people in charge and covering for you. Companies give vacation and PTO time for just that – Personal. Time. Off.

Over the years, I have gotten better at checking out and turning it off. I learned my lesson the hard way on a vacation many years ago with my family. It was ruined by being totally available for problems that arose back at work. I spent most of my time either on the phone or worrying about what was going on. Turns out, it wasn’t even concrete problems that needed to be addressed; it was just work politics.

I’ve shared my thoughts on the importance of taking time off openly so others don’t have to learn the hard way like I did. And I encourage my staff to take their vacation time and check out while away.

As it is, the days leading up to a vacation and the days following are tough enough. There’s everything you think you need to get done that just can’t wait a week or two on the front end. And then thinking you are a super human who can get through all their email for a week or two on the first day back. For those of you who can, is that badge of honor worth it? 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

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

Next chapter, page 2

It’s been seven months since I started my next life chapter. In January, I Ieft my position as CIO of the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers to begin a more independent and flexible path. I canstockphoto1593928wanted to be able to live near my family and work less than full-time over the course of a year. The first page of this chapter has been to serve as interim CIO at University Hospitals in Cleveland. I had just one weekend between finishing up in Michigan and starting in Cleveland. CIO positions are more than full-time but I knew that when we hired a permanent CIO, there would be time for me to get a break.

This week, the new permanent CIO at University Hospitals was named. Joy Grosser will be joining UH on September 12th. I am confident she is a great match for us. She is very accomplished, and has significant experience in other large health care organizations. She most recently served as Vice President and Chief Information Officer at UnityPoint Health in West Des Moines, Iowa, a 17 hospital health system. I have agreed to stay for several weeks past Joy’s arrival to orient her and to ensure a smooth transition.

For me, this engagement has been a terrific opportunity to work in a very strong organization with an excellent team. Much can be accomplished in a short time and our IT team proves that. They have been wonderful to work with and I will miss them.

For this final stage of my interim engagement, I will focus on two things. One is to keep everything moving including a host of projects and the day to day issue escalation. The second is to prepare a transition plan and do the turnover. I will be stepping back and letting Joy take the front seat come September 12th. I’ll be there to support her.

A new position means drinking from a firehose. Continue reading