This is the third in a three-part series profiling Gevity staff at different stages of their careers.
I am the Executive Managing Partner, Canada/West Division, and the Chair of Gevity’s Board of Directors.
When I look back on the journey to where I am today, it’s relatively linear in comparison to many of the healthcare leaders I’ve met over the years, many of whom took a perhaps more circuitous route or have less typical academic backgrounds. After completing my first degree in life sciences at Queen’s University, I had intended to pursue a degree in dentistry, but was dissuaded by the depressing statistics on dentists and mental health. Instead, I found my way into the fascinating field of health informatics and completed an expedited degree in Health Information Science at the University of Victoria, B.C.
I essentially started my career when I turned what had been a co-op placement as part of my UVic degree into a contract role at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, where I started with a tuberculosis data conversion project and then ultimately coordinated with all the B.C. health authorities and the Public Health Agency of Canada to manage the public health information system across the province, which is where I met Aaron Middleton, now also an Executive Managing Partner at Gevity. That was a fascinating time to work in public health. SARS had broken out in Canada in 2003, and provincial and federal governments responded by pouring millions of dollars into preparing for future pandemics and other public health emergencies.
With that experience, I was seconded by the B.C. Ministry of Health to work in Victoria, B.C., on the Panorama project, a $100 million initiative funded by Canada Health Infoway to help Canada better prepare for future disease outbreaks. I soon met Leon Salvail, our CEO, who was working on the Panorama project as the project manager. In 2006, I became an independent consultant and joined Global Village as a Managing Partner in 2008. I made that decision because the company had committed to focus on making a positive impact on Canadian health care and I was persuaded that I could do more with a group of likeminded and committed individuals moving toward a common goal rather than as an independent moving from contract to contract. I became employee #8, and we found one of the first offices together: a tiny board room in Yaletown, Vancouver, with six desks and no windows! Today, we have 11 physical and three virtual offices in Canada, the U.S. and around the globe, with approximately 100 full-time employees and another 100 or so contract associates, so we’ve come a long way since those early days!
That was a challenging time, not just because my career was really starting to take flight, but because for years, my husband and I had lived and worked in different provinces/countries. Without his unwaivering support, I know I would not be where I am today. I’m a fairly private person and when I was asked what people might not know about me, it was a challenge to open up, but I love travelling, camping (not glamping!) and country music! I know…sleeping on a mat in a tent listening to country music? Who knew?
Over time I have slowly moved up the ranks, from branch manager of the Vancouver office to leader of the Canada/West Division and throughout I continue to update my skills and credentials in addition to expanding my roles and responsibilities. In 2014, I became Executive Managing Partner; in 2018, I became Gevity’s Chair of the Board of Directors (second Chairperson in Gevity’s history) and Vice-President/President Elect of the B.C. Health Information Management Professionals Society (BCHIMPS), both of which are huge learning opportunities. As Board Chair, I am focusing on Gevity’s corporate strategy and investments for the next five years, and on ensuring we have a heathy financial picture to enable us to continue to make a global positive impact.
Even after a decade, I’m still excited every day about the possibilities. I believe in what Gevity stands for, and I continue to be driven by what I know we can collectively achieve.
Most importantly, though, for me, is that I became the mother of twin boys in 2012 and while that has definitely honed my ability to juggle professional and personal priorities, I am lucky to have the support of my own “village” of sorts – my extended family – to help me along the way.
My advice for others, particularly women, who are looking to shape their own careers and ascend the corporate ladder in the field of healthcare informatics, is to have the courage to believe in yourself and your capabilities. I also recommend cultivating strong mentors: I had two key mentors who changed the course of my career. Even if you end up in situations where you feel you don’t have the knowledge or experience, keep pushing forward and get the job done! Commit to lifelong education, seize any opportunities to increase your industry exposure and figure out how to become a trusted advisor. Once you become the person others believe can be relied upon to solve problems and one that shares your knowledge, you will become a valuable commodity and the pieces will all fall into place. It’s truly amazing how things work out, but sometimes you need to take a leap of faith – in yourself!