Year of Graduation: 1977
Current Job Position: Chief Executive Officer of Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, CA
Please give a brief description of your current position and what your work entails.
As the Chief Executive Officer of a Hospital, I report to the Board of Directors. Essentially the buck stops with me. So I'm responsible for it all. I have operational responsibility for all quality, finance, and human resource services. I am also responsible for our customer satisfaction - which includes our patients, physicians and employees. I am also responsible for how my organization is perceived within the communities that we serve.
I work closely with the medical staff that provides services to their patients at the hospital. I don't know everything in regards to the details of what goes on in each of my areas of responsibility, but through my training and experience I know enough to read the reports and ask the right questions. I achieve success through the careful selection of my managers. I make sure that I hire the right people, and then I get out of their way and let them do their job.
How did you become interested in working for Sharp Chula Vista Medical? What other experiences led up to it?
Following graduation in 1977, I enrolled in the Peace Corps and served in the medical field in rural Liberia, West Africa. I decided on healthcare management when I returned to the states. I subsequently enrolled in the Master's program at Tulane University. I did my residency in New Orleans and my career path has taken me across the country, and I've run hospitals in the Seattle area, Chicago, Oregon, Riverside County and, for the last 9 years, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. Over my 25 year career, I've moved because I've pursued either challenging job opportunities or optimal places to raise my family. In Chula Vista, we've found both.
What skills are important for a person in your field?
While reading financial reports are always important (and I'm continually amazed at how few of my colleagues can read and understand a profit/loss report), the skills that I use more often at this stage of my career are effective communication skills.
Being able to type/write effectively is essential in this day of electronics. I joke that the most valuable class I ever took was typing on the old typewriters (pre personal computers) back in my junior year in high school. At the same time, developing the ability to communicate clearly and effectively in front of a crowd is also extremely important. Both my writing and speaking skills were developed over time. Writing was much easier for me than public speaking. Today however, I'm very comfortable in front of a crowd and have talked to audiences around the county on issues related to hospital administration.
What activities/resources did you utilize at CSB/SJU to prepare yourself for this career?
I was active in the Sociology Department as the class representative during my senior year. I played football for all four years (national champions in '76) and rugby for my last two years. I played intramural sports and was active within the student Catholic community as well. I traveled to Israel to work on an archeology dig with Dr. Alberic Culhane and spent a winter semester volunteering at a Catholic mission in Appalachia. I also spent two summers on campus leading the sports and activity camps.
The well rounded education provided a great background for more specific studies in grad school and beyond. The discipline and habits required to do well at St. John's have stayed with me.
The life lessons learned from St. John's football probably are the ones that have been most influential for me. I have many of them ingrained in my management style. And I still call John Gagliardi periodically to seek his advice, council and friendship.
My college experience at St. John's has given me a sense of community, purpose, worthwhile work and making a difference. More specifically, for this job you need determination, flexibility, a thick skin, common sense and a good sense of humor.
What advice do you have for students that are interested in your career? How can they learn more?
Enjoy your time at St. John's. Do it all - don't ever find yourself in a position where you look back and think: "I wish I would have......" And after graduation, you need to remember the words of Eunice Kennedy Shriver who told us that "much is expected from those to whom much has been given". Give back to your communities - that is what it's all about!