Please tell us a little about your background and what inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare.
My background is a little unique, in that I started my career as a newspaper reporter. I ran the sports department at the Daily Texan for a few years and worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after undergrad. Around that time, I had two realizations. First, that it may not be the best long-term plan to work in print journalism, and second, that I enjoyed leading a department more than being a reporter.
I ended up pursuing an MBA/MHA and thought that healthcare would be a great fit for my interests. I saw it as an industry going through a tremendous amount of change and a good fit for my values. The VP of Operations at the hospital where I was volunteering took me under his wing, and the rest was history.
I grew up in a family of healthcare providers, and I love the teamwork that goes into solving problems every day. It reminds me of what you would see in a newsroom – an exciting place full of colorful characters and an energy you can feel as soon as you hit the doors.
We have a young family, with a six and a four-year-old, so most of our weekends are spent doing activities with them. You can usually find us at the Houston Zoo or at one of the museums on the weekends, and then getting dinner somewhere fun. My favorites are Niko Niko’s and Shake Shack.
Outside of that, I enjoy running and reading, and I’m currently working on improving my skills with the smoker. Oh, and I enjoy watching my Longhorns and Cowboys. I know you’re not supposed to admit you’re a Cowboys fan in Houston, but I make no apologies about it. They’re America’s Team, after all.
What was the best piece of advice that you received from a mentor throughout your administrative career?
One of the best sayings I was taught is that every day we’re either getting smarter or we’re going in the opposite direction. What I take that to mean is we need to ensure we’re taking time to build in learning, because it’s easy to fall into what’s comfortable in our daily work.
I’ve been blessed with several mentors in my career, and that makes me passionate about paying it forward. Once of the best mentors I’ve ever had come through our chapter’s mentorship program, and I can’t tell you how rewarding that relationship has been.
What helped you most when preparing for the Board of Governors’ Exam?
First, I have to say that the review course that our chapter put on was very helpful in covering the many topics on the Board of Governor’s exam. I was doing quite a bit of my studying during a busy time, so I appreciated being able to access the videos at times that worked for me.
The practice exam I found also very helpful, as it modeled the types of questions and the mix of subjects that were on the actual test. It’s certainly a difficult test, but I appreciated the encouragement I got from fellow leaders, as that helped me with the confidence to rip the band-aid off and get it done.
There’s no getting around that the pandemic has been a tremendous challenge for us all, and leading teams through it over the last 18-19 months has been a (hopefully) once in a lifetime experience. One of the positives out of it, however, is that we’re having honest conversations about burnout and mental health. Prior to the pandemic we may not have done as good of a job recognizing and assisting with what employees are going through.
What is your favorite thing about being a leader in healthcare in Houston?
I love the dynamic and competitive nature of the healthcare industry in Houston. I also appreciate that our ACHE chapter creates a lot of programming and events to help us learn and grow our networks. That’s been a great resource over the years, and I am glad we have such an active and engaged chapter.
Other than the advice mentioned above, what is one piece of advice you would give to an early careerist?
One of the best pieces of advice I was given happened in grad school – and it’s related to communicating with your boss. Really, it’s helpful for communication in general. The saying is “Be Brief, Be Bright and Be Gone.”
What that means is you probably only truly understand 20-30% of what your boss is dealing with at any given time, and you want your communication to be succinct, thoughtful and value-adding. Most of the time I’m fortunate to be two out of those three—usually brief and gone—but if you can go 3-for-3 you’ll be knocking it out of the park.
-Interview by Brodus Franklin