Brian Silverstein Interviews Florence Hudson

Brian Silverstein, Director of Life Sciences recently had the opportunity to ask Florence Hudson, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineer, former IBM Executive, and Editorial Board Member for Blockchain in Healthcare Today a series of questions. She shared insights regarding her impressive career, trends in the tech and healthcare industries, and advice for up-and-coming STEM professionals.

Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineer, and that interest started when I was about 3 years old. I was brought up by my maternal grandparents because my mother died the day I was born, so my mother’s brothers and sister became my brothers and sister. My oldest brother loved space. He used to get me up at 5 or 6 in the morning to watch the Apollo missions take off. I remember thinking it was so cool and wondering how they do that, and how they get up there and back to earth safely. They say that’s when you become an engineer - when you start asking ‘how.’

From there, I got a number of scholarships out of high school and ended up going to Princeton to be a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineer. I worked at Grumman and then NASA at the Jet Propulsion Lab, so I’ve always worked on things that are the leading edge and the future. I was able to work on the space shuttle program and met Sally Ride; she was going to be flying in the space shuttle, and I was building the space shuttle. At the end of the 70’s, the aerospace world was really in a decline, so I took a look around and thought that computers were going to run the world someday, so I interviewed with HP and IBM, and took a job with HP in California. I was there for a little over a year then my grandfather got sick, so I moved back to NY and got a job with IBM. They called me an early identifier, which means I was on track to be an executive, and I was fortunate enough to have a 33-year career at IBM, including Vice President and Director roles.

When I got to the point in my career where I wasn’t going any higher, I decided to look for roles that met my goal to become a Senior Vice President and C-level executive as I had documented in my 1-page lifetime strategic plan created in 1983. At that point, my friend introduced me to a Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer role at Internet2, which was a really fun job. From there I joined the Blockchain in Healthcare Today Editorial Board, which I still do now. In addition, I am the Editor in Chief for a book on women and the Internet of Things and this framework called TIPPSS – trust, identity, privacy, protection, safety and security for the Internet of Things. I’m focused on this area to increase awareness of the need to improve trust and identity of things, people, software, and cybersecurity to keep people safer in this hyper-connected world we live in. There are about 15 women writing chapters in this book from different parts of my life; research, industry, government, academia and more. I am also Special Advisor for Next Generation Internet for the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub at Columbia University, a very cool role. I also speak at many events regarding Internet of Things, smart cities, Women in STEM, Blockchain, and more.  Now I’m looking for the next cool thing I can do whether it is board positions, or new roles where I can make things better – that’s what engineers do.

You have a degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. What led you to get involved with healthcare in your career?

When I was at IBM in Corporate Strategy, Lou Gerstner as the CEO inspired us to look at some of the newer markets we should be participating in. Healthcare and Life Sciences was one of them. At the time I was a VP in Corporate Strategy and my team led the development of a number of new strategies, including creating the analytical structure to understand and operate in new markets that weren’t really defined yet, as documented in a Harvard case study about the IBM EBO (Emerging Business Opportunities) program. We created a framework to assess market potential and value creation, then developed a range of uncertainty for the new markets including everyone’s opinion to help us move forward together. We did that for healthcare and other markets. I also worked on the IBM Watson cognitive computing strategy which included choosing healthcare as a prime opportunity for cognitive computing.

As I started getting involved more with Internet2, Healthcare and Life Sciences came up as a key focus area. As Chief Innovation Officer, I did a community survey to find what areas of open collaboration we should work on together, and came up with distributed big data and analytics, the Internet of Things, and end-to-end trust and security. Within big data and analytics, one of the use cases that came forward was Healthcare and Life Sciences. When the Cancer Moonshot came along I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the summit at Howard University in Washington, DC to discuss how the scientists and technologies can support the acceleration of cancer research and data sharing. I was fortunate to be appointed to the program committee for the computational approaches for cancer workshop at the annual SuperComputing conference as another way to leverage different types of scientists, technologists and researchers together to apply their cumulative thinking to cancer. Healthcare is a huge space with so many opportunities to improve outcomes, so much to figure out, and so many challenges. We can bring brilliant people together, leveraging existing and new technologies, to work together and use their unique gifts for good.

Being a Special Advisor for Next Generation Internet at the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub, what are the biggest challenges and opportunities you see in the world of data?

One of the biggest challenges is cultural; people have to choose to share their data. In research environments your research is your intellectual property, it’s your identity and it’s what helps you get tenure, so we need to get to thinking that data needs to be shared. The other challenge is protecting against other people changing your data. We have to apply new technologies to areas where people aren’t used to sharing data and give them protection.

The opportunity across the board is using the data for good. We need to look at data holistically to get key insights and make the right decisions to change things. Another thing as we look across the world is working together to come up with what we want to accomplish and how we can make things better by improving collaboration within data science globally.

What trends do you expect to see in technology in the next 5 years?

A trend I see is the need for this TIPPSS idea; trust, identity, privacy, safety and security. More people are becoming aware of the threat of physical and financial harm from the connected devices and systems on the planet. We need to build in TIPPSS for new devices, and add more security to existing devices and systems. I think there will be more and more awareness and regulation in these areas. The issue of ethics will also increase regarding how we use the vast amount of data available about people and things, relating to data science, IoT, privacy, and security. There are so many aspects of making tech more safe and secure as it becomes more integrated into our daily lives. For example, quantum computing is going to be very real and provide opportunities and challenges; if you make something really smart it can be good and bad so figuring out the ethics of data and tech are more and more important as we move forward.

What interesting new projects are you working on?

The Blockchain world is very interesting. My position on the Editorial Board of Blockchain in Healthcare Today allows me to look at how new blockchain technology, which tucks under the TIPPSS umbrella, can provide better integrity, trust and security of data, whether it’s data about the pharmaceutical supply chain to make sure counterfeit drugs don’t enter, or provenance of medical or clinical research data as it is transferred between devices, institutions, people and networks in the eventual pursuit of precision medicine and precision cancer care. We focus on figuring out how to maintain integrity of the data since all devices which house the data are hackable. Blockchain can help with this, as it tracks who and what creates or changes data. It’s exciting to work with doctors, the editorial board, and medical schools to make things better by marrying technology with healthcare.

I am also involved in a number of things related to TIPPSS, which we need to get more women involved in. The way I look at diversity, until we are at human population parity in STEM fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - we aren’t leveraging all the resources on the planet; if 50% of the planet is women, then 50% of everything should be women. We need to encourage women and let them know that they can do it and they should get involved.  

What types of mentor or mentors have you had throughout your career?

My first was my brother who woke me up to watch the Apollo missions when I was 3 years old. He provided me the opportunity to see what’s out there so I could see what I was interested in. My parents were also always very supportive of me. My first real mentor in the aerospace engineering field was Yvonne Brill, who passed away a couple years ago. I met her when I was at Princeton University and president of the Society of Women Engineers section. When she passed away, her NY Times obituary called her the first female rocket scientist in the US. She connected me to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab as my summer internship and she was on the NASA safety advisory board after the Challenger disaster. She was incredible. I always show pictures of her when I do my Women in Tech talks. Whenever I went back to Princeton I always tried to go and visit her at her house and give her a hug. Last time I saw her, she showed me the medal President Obama had just presented her on Technology and Innovation. I also had a number of mentors at IBM when I was on the Executive path. Now a few other women and I who were VPs at IBM have started doing peer mentoring and ladies dinners to help each other in work and life. We invite the EVP from IBM who mentored us all to join our dinners too.  He is still there for us even though we have all retired from IBM.

What do you believe are the traits and qualities of a great leader?

I think a great leader needs to care. They need to care about the business, their team, clients, people, partners; people can tell if you do or don’t care. You can show that you care by listening. I used to present to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem when I was at IBM, and I’d speak to them about our strategy, and they gave me this ornament I still have that says, ‘It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen’ – Oliver Wendell Holmes. So as leaders it is our job to listen, respond, and lead, inspiring people to look forward, look up and think of what more they can be or do, and help them reach for the stars.

You were recently featured by the New York Hall of Science with your STEM profile. How do you encourage STEM careers among your network?

I’m approachable and friendly, but I’m a geek; I worked on future missions around Jupiter, cognitive computing, next gen internet, and helping cure cancer. I say if I can do it, you can do it. I had very humble beginnings, with my mother dying and my father leaving, and I was an orphan, so if I can do it, you can do it. I encourage anyone to find what inspires them and do it. It could be boys, girls, robots, anything; I’m flexible, we just need more thinkers and doers in the STEM field.

Based on your LinkedIn profile, you have earned various honors and awards. To what or whom do you attribute your success?

My parents were my core. They were so supportive of me – they lost their daughter and then took care of me. I was first in our immediate family to go to a 4-year college and they supported that. I also had teachers who were supportive of me. You need personal cheerleaders in your life that believe you’re great. My parents, siblings, friends, daughter, have all been personal cheerleaders for me and I’m very lucky that they support me.

What advice would you give to up and coming technology professionals to be successful?

Figure out the unique gifts God gave you and use them for good. If people say you have a gift, ask them for feedback about it and what the good part was. When I was looking at how to portray myself, my mentor from IBM said that my unique value is that I’m technical and a business executive, and it’s the unique combination that really differentiated me, so that’s what my CV says at the top now. Getting feedback from other people, listening, and leveraging that can help you on your way to success. Find things that really inspire you, listen to the market, continue to pursue your ideas, and don’t give up. Look at how to leverage ideas for good and watch out for those who use their ideas for bad.

Brian Silverstein
Director of Life Sciences
440-996-0877
bsilverstein@directrecruiters.com

Management Vs. Leadership

February 14, 2018

By Christy Fox, Director of Marketing

What is the difference between management and leadership? To some, the words might seem interchangeable, however, this is not the case. Professionals across all industries should try to find a balance between the two to lead a successful team.

Here are six points outlining the differences between management and leadership. Where are you excelling and where are you lacking in your management or leadership roles?

  • Leaders are inspirational and work to take their team to the next level.
  • Managers execute day to day tasks and make sure day-to-day operations run smoothly.
  • Leaders influence people; many come to leaders for advice.
  • Managers have subordinates who just work for them.
  • Leaders take risks that might take time, and resources, but will be worth it in the end.
  • Managers eliminate risk and get tasks done in specific, set timeframes.
  • Leaders think long term with goals and vision.
  • Managers focus on short term tasks and accomplishments.
  • Leaders are typically very people oriented.
  • Managers are driven by numbers and rational problem solving.
  • Leaders are proactive in building a strategy.
  • Managers are reactive to a strategy that has been built and they execute it.

Not all managers and leaders are built the same, but a strong combination of the points above can push you from just managing people to leading people, and drive your team to be more successful.

Norm Volsky Interviews Tim Coulter, COO at PreparedHealth

Norm Volsky, Director of Mobile Healthcare IT had the opportunity to interview Tim Coulter, COO of PreparedHealth. Mr. Coulter shared insights about his career in healthcare, as well as the interesting initiatives PreparedHealth is taking to help people get well faster in the comfort of their own home.

 

 Please tell us about yourself and PreparedHealth.

My name is Tim Coulter and I’m currently the COO of PreparedHealth. I’ve been working in healthcare for the last 15 years or so. PreparedHealth was founded by my good friends, Ashish Shah and David Coyle who I met at our last company, Medicity. David was also the co-founder of Medicity and Ashish was the CTO while I ran various departments in finance, professional services, and account management.

 PreparedHealth is focused on helping people get well faster and stay well longer in the comfort of their home. We believe there’s a better way to coordinate care that happens outside of the hospital, a way that empowers the patient, connects personal caregivers and care providers, and enables payers to keep their members healthier, safer and happier at home. With the enTouch Network, everyone stays connected in real-time, receiving care updates as they happen, and improving the odds a patient's in-home care will be a success. From home-based providers to hospitals and health systems to health insurance plans, we’re transforming the industry by leveraging technology and data to optimize care and improve outcomes for patients.

 What led you to pursue healthcare in your career?

 Like most people who work in healthcare, I was motivated to pursue this career based on a number of personal experiences. I spent most of my 8th grade year in and out of hospitals due to a bacterial infection which would lead to several open-heart surgeries. I was able to make a full recovery but would spend the next several years trying to coordinate follow-up care between a variety of specialists with the inability to share medical records. Every time I showed up at a new specialist after starting college, moving for work, etc. I would have to essentially start over. This experience initially drew me to the healthcare field and ultimately led to working at Medicity to help solve this problem – I instantly connected with the idea of using my career to not only provide for my family, but also help others solve the various inefficiencies of our healthcare system.

 Fast forward about 25 years from my childhood experience and I would run into another medical scenario which connected me specifically to PreparedHealth’s mission - which was my father being diagnosed with liver disease. Trying to coordinate communication between my mom, my brother, and myself was difficult enough, but then throw in the complexity of trying to coordinate with the actual doctors, nurses, home health aides, etc. along with my dad’s confusion from his condition and we had a horrible time knowing how to help. Even just getting clarity on what the actual initial diagnosis was, was extremely difficult.

 The other difficulty we experienced was knowing what options were available once the diagnosis was treated and he was being discharged from the hospital. Even though I had worked in healthcare for years, most of the post-acute world was still a mystery for me. Very quickly I had to learn the differences between home health, home care, hospice, palliative care, rehab vs skilled nursing, etc. - an experience which is common to many of us when our parents arrive at this stage of life. My dad really wanted to just go home and receive care there. Which ultimately, he has been able to do, and he is recovering wonderfully right now.

 PreparedHealth focuses on how to get people well faster and stay well longer in the comfort of their homes. How do you connect with this mission?

 90% of people want to age at home just like my father did. PreparedHealth’s mission is to provide a platform that allows for post-acute providers and family caregivers to work together in a way that makes this desire possible. Ashish and David formed PreparedHealth based on similar personal experiences to mine and when I reconnected with them I was extremely excited to work with them again.

 What are the biggest challenges you are seeing in the industry right now?

There’s a lot of noise within healthcare right now making it challenging to get our message across. The industry is inundated with constant policy updates from Washington to every vendor shouting many of the same terms - interoperability, big data, lowered readmissions, etc. Most of the discussion is focused on the hospitals and large health systems, but there aren’t a lot of people talking about the home. We believe in the power of helping people age in the home and making the transition from hospital to home as seamless as possible, helping to make sure they don’t head back to the hospital for an unnecessary reason. With this, we’re trying to reach the post-acute providers, including home health, hospice, home care, geriatricians, skilled nursing facilities, and more. This area has historically been fragmented and lacks the data that the hospitals are just now figuring out how to use. We’re excited to empower these providers by bringing more transparency and more coordinated care.

What interesting new projects are you working on?

 Our main focus is building our enTouch™ network. We’re seeing some incredible results the more it grows and the more service lines that join across the post-acute spectrum. Our home health partners like BAYADA Home Health have helped lead the way for new upstream partners with skilled nursing facilities like Genesis Powerback locations and hospitals like Centegra in Illinois.  As more partners join, they are completing the care continuum and making the transition from hospital to home more coordinated. At the same time, we’re investing heavily in DINA, our digital nursing assistant. She uses data-driven AI and machine learning to push proactive care recommendations so that no patient falls through the cracks. She’s also leveraging data to help our providers make evidence-based care transitions.

What strategies do you use at PreparedHealth to retain top talent?

We are a young company that is growing quickly, so it’s a balance of putting a focus on retaining our people, not just on recruitment. We are really picky about who we bring on, and not just from a talent perspective, but from a culture fit. You spend a lot of time with your team, so make sure they are kind, genuine people that want to make a difference. We also make sure that we invest in our employees, making sure that PreparedHealth is a place you can build a career.

 What exciting new trends and changes do you expect to see in the industry in the next 5 years?

 Healthcare is on the cusp of making some exciting changes. It’s an old, slow moving industry that is apt for change. Artificial Intelligence is going to make a big difference across the board from diagnosis and care to care management and will help put all of the data being collected by EHRs to use in interesting ways. There will be a greater transparency and communication in healthcare including caregivers and family members being a part of the conversation. Large corporations are already joining forces to make changes in how care is paid for and delivered.

 But, the biggest trend will be for healthcare to move back to the home. The growing boomer population wants to age in their home and more care providers are switching to that same mentality - they just need the tools to make it efficient and transparent.

Norm Volsky
Director of Mobile HIT
440-996-0059
nvolsky@directrecruiters.com

 

 

Onboarding: The Key to Retention and Job Satisfaction

January 30, 2018

By Rachel Makoski, Director of Food Service Equipment and Supplies

You've landed your ideal candidate. The offer letter is back, notice has been given and you'll see them on their start date, right? Wrong. Nabbing a key player is only part of the battle. The real challenge to any organization is keeping him or her engaged until the start date and ensuring a robust onboarding process to mitigate the chance of anyone else swooping in with a more enticing opportunity or their current company dangling a counter offer in front of them.

You’ve just spent a considerable amount of time interviewing and negotiating to get this person on your team, and with the average cost of hiring a new employee in the tens of thousands, it’s worth ensuring that they aren’t going to jump ship before they even come aboard.

The time between the offer being signed and the end of the candidate’s first six months is crucial to employee engagement, retention and overall job satisfaction and productivity. So, what can you do to ensure that your new hire not only shows up day one, but is excited to be there and doesn't pick up the phone when recruiters are calling?

Once the offer is signed, the next step is for HR to reach out to get all of the necessary paperwork filled out. This should not be as simple as just mailing them a packet of information. Set up a skype call with the new hire, and learn about them. Rather than laying out what your company offers, find out what's important to the new hire and focus the conversation around how the organization excels in those specific areas, then of course bring out the basics if they aren’t covered by that point. Immediately create open lines of communication, understand how they are best managed and how they’ve handled conflict or issues in the past so that in the future, HR is prepared to facilitate an atmosphere where they feel comfortable and confident bringing concerns to your attention. There are many situations where an employee is unhappy in their current role and the employer has no idea until they put in their notice. You want to preempt the situation by ensuring that you’re working with all of the information from the get-go.

The next step should be a welcome package. Maybe it’s as simple as a t-shirt or a mug with the company logo. Or, perhaps they’re working remote and it’s heartier to enable their home office. Just something to let them know they’re now part of a team that is happy to have them is a great onboarding practice. To that point, there should also be one or two reach outs from the person’s manager in the time between the signed offer and day one. Keep them close and let them know you’re excited to have them joining your team.

When possible, send out instructions on basic things that a new hire will need a few days prior to the start date. This should include basic procedures, email login info, company intranet info, standard day-to-day scheduling if there are weekly team meetings or skypes, etc. When this is out of the way prior to day one, it’s much easier for the new hire to come in feeling prepared.

When they log into their email and calendar, it should already have invites to respond to – onboarding should never only include  their direct manager, but should be diversified with lunches with peers, cross functional team meetings, mentoring opportunities outside of their department and other interactions that expose them immediately to the company culture and give them a better understanding of how each department interacts with their own while also organically creating opportunities for them to begin cultivating relationships with their new colleagues.

Be prepared, as first impressions last and it’s tough to overcome a poor one. With that in mind, day one should include exposure to your company’s values and long-term goals and showing how they’re actively present in the culture of the organization. Expose the new hire to as many team members as possible. With that in mind, keeping new employees engaged is crucial. Welcoming them to a culture that not only focuses on day-to-day work environment but also the outside interests of employees will ease their minds as they may have just walked away from stability for the unknown. Team outings, one on ones, and so many other activities happen in non-working hours, so this is an important aspect of the onboarding process.

Set expectations. Go over the metrics that their performance will be evaluated based on so that there is no confusion as to what they need to achieve and the roadmap that will take them there. Be clear and have everything in writing. It is important to be on the same page. Go over the training process, the first week, the first month, 90 days, etc. Set up monthly or bi-weekly check-ins during the first six months so that you’re both staying on track without micromanaging.

Ultimately people work for people they like. I can't tell you how often a personality clash with a higher up is the reason a candidate is primed for a move. Get to know your new employee as much as you can while maintaining your position as their leader. Earning their respect and trust is vital to long-term job satisfaction.

As a recruiter, I have seen great onboarding processes as well as poor processes. Making sure all the boxes are checked will ensure a satisfied employee and increase your chance of retaining him or her for the long run. What types of onboarding methods do you use at your company?

Rachel Makoski
Director of Food Service Equipment and Supplies
440-996-0871
rmakoski@directrecruiters.com

Robert Cohn, Managing Partner Interviews Toby Thomann, President of WAGO

January 24, 2018

Robert Cohn, Managing Partner recently had the opportunity to interview WAGO Corporation President, Toby Thomann. Mr. Thomann answered questions regarding his career track, WAGO, the Automation space, and more. 

Please tell us about yourself and WAGO Corporation.

I am originally from Akron, Ohio where I attended and graduated from The University of Akron with a BS in Marketing.  My career at WAGO started in 1994 as a Regional Sales Manager covering OH, MI and W.PA. Over the years, I have held several positions within the company including Central US Zone Manager, Marketing Manager, National Sales Manager, Vice President of Sales and now President. 

About WAGO:

WAGO is a family owned German company founded in 1951.  Today WAGO employs almost 9,000 people, has 28 wholly owned subsidiaries and 42 agencies globally.

Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at WAGO. From our pioneering CAGE CLAMP® spring pressure connection technology to our extensive range of Interconnect, Interface and Automation solutions, such as the fieldbus independent WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM, our customers count on the unconditional performance and reliability of our products to ensure the safe, efficient operation of their systems every time.

You have extensive experience at WAGO in marketing and sales. How have these experiences prepared you for your position as President of WAGO’s North American Headquarters?

I have been fortunate to grow with WAGO and hold several different positions within the organization.  This allowed me to work within different departments and learn about them, lead them and ultimately bring them together. This has been both challenging and rewarding, going from a relatively small company to where we are today.

What are your goals for WAGO the next 3 years?

The obvious answer is to aggressively grow sales and market share in North America. However, that is only part of the equation. Ultimately my goal is to provide strong leadership and vision to our team, exceed customers’ expectations and provide a great place for our employees to work and achieve their goals.

What trends are you currently seeing in automation?

I see customers requiring suppliers to bring more to the table.  We need to offer solutions, not just products.  We need to take an interest in what our customer’s goals are and help them achieve them.

WAGO has numerous innovative patented products. How do you encourage innovation among your staff?

We empower our people to be creative.   Anyone can open a catalog and pick out a product.  I mentioned before that we need to differentiate ourselves from others in our market.  One way to do this is to develop a custom solution that provides a unique way of solving a problem or improving an application.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of your job?

Trying to find and develop the next generation of leaders for our company.  In today’s society we do not find the generation of individuals that are looking to commit the time and effort required to develop into leadership roles.  Most individuals do not want the responsibility and the challenges associated with certain roles.  We need to identify and develop our next generation of leaders to help drive the future. 

Part of the vision at WAGO is investing in people and resources that allow for the development of new products that meet the standard of being safe and reliable everywhere in the world. What strategies are you currently using to invest in hiring top talent for your company?

Today we search for our top talent with the help of dedicated recruiters.  We are also considering an internship program to try and develop our own candidates, but this is only part of the equation.  At WAGO we consider each employee a long-term investment and therefore, we take our time to make sure they are the right fit.  After hiring them you now need to retain them, and at WAGO we are trying to provide ”World Class” facilities and environments for our employees.  We have invested heavily in updating our facilities with the latest ergonomic features and promote health and wellness programs along with competitive salaries, retirement programs and benefits.  Today’s market is competitive, and therefore you need to have something that differentiates you in the market.  Our greatest resource is our people and we try to keep that in mind as we make our decisions.  We are fortunate to have great longevity with our employees both locally and globally and we always are looking for ways to keep the team happy and motivated!

Have you had mentors throughout your career?

Yes, and I still continue to have mentors.

What advice would you give to up and coming professionals pursuing careers in the Automation space?

I would tell up and coming professionals to be creative!  You need to be a resource to your customer - basically an extension of their company.  Most companies today lack resources, so if you can provide value you will succeed over others that are just checking the box!  Try to gain some hands-on field experience especially if you are going into sales.  The automation market changes rapidly so make sure you are willing to adapt to change and not get passed by!

What important characteristics are needed to be a leader in Automation?

To be a leader in Automation, you have to be a differentiator.  What separates you from the competition?  Most manufacturers build good, quality products so you need to have something that sets you apart.  Is it your relationship, innovation, quality, warranty or your handshake to a customer, no matter how large or how small they are?

As an award-winning company, what is WAGO’s differentiator that sets you apart from competing organizations?

From the beginning, WAGO has never wavered in our technology.  We invented “Spring Pressure Termination Technology” and it is the basis of all of our products for over 65 years.  Today we see our variations of our technology being produced by every major competitor in the market!  We believe this is a testament to what we invented and continue to maintain a leadership position in today.

Why is WAGO a great place to work?

It starts with our people.  People are the key to any company’s success.  However, I think we take it a step further.  We have a great facility to work in, we try to maintain a “work hard, play hard” motto and even as we continue to grow as an organization we try to keep the feel of the company somewhat intimate and keep the employees’ needs first. 

Is there anything else we should know about you or WAGO?

Probably more than you care to know or that I could bore you with! If you need more information or have additional questions please feel free to contact me.

Robert Cohn
Managing Partner
440-996-0595
rcohn@directrecruiters.com

Wellness in the Workplace

January 17, 2018

By Christy Fox, Director of Marketing

With the new year, and new resolutions, gyms are packed with people focusing on improving their health and overall well-being. Not only are individuals working towards goals of a healthier lifestyle; employers have been investing in and developing wellness programs for the workplace as well. Wellness programs in the workplace are proven to improve productivity, culture, and employee satisfaction with their jobs in addition to saving the company money on healthcare costs. There are a variety of ways for companies, both large and small, to improve employee wellness from fitness initiatives, to healthy eating, to mental health. Here are some ideas for companies to promote wellness in their organization (both free and paid).

  • Work with local gyms to get corporate discounts on memberships to offer employees, or provide a gym membership reimbursement plan as an incentive to working out. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers 2016 Health and Well-Being Touchstone Survey, 73% of employers offer physical activity programs/fitness discounts.
  • Encourage walking meetings or offer standing desks.
  • Provide healthy snacks or fruit in a common area of the office.
  • Organize company group fitness classes.
  • Bring in professionals to go over mental health topics such as stress management, healthy sleep habits, meditation, and more.
  • Provide a list of healthy food options nearby the office for employees who may otherwise be unaware of the options surrounding them.
  • Offer one on one coaching or personal training.
  • Invest in health measurements such as biometric screening, BMI measurements, and health risk questionnaires.
  • Provide tobacco cessation programs.
  • Hold fitness or healthy eating challenges or competitions.

Encouraging health and wellness in the workplace will overall attract talent, create a great place to work, and offer employees the tools they need to live a healthier lifestyle. What types of health and wellness initiatives are most important to you in the workplace?

How to Grab the Attention of Hiring Managers and Recruiters

January 3, 2018

By Barb Miller, Marketing Manager

If you’re seeking a job, standing out and capturing the attention of hiring managers and recruiters can be a challenge. This means that you have to cut through all the noise out there, online and offline, in order to make yourself easy to find.

Here are a few suggestions:

Upload your resume to job boards. Hiring managers and recruiters often rely upon sites such as Career Builder, Monster, and Indeed to find candidates who aren’t in their internal applicant tracking system. These job boards are a gold mine for trying to find the perfect candidate for a role. Large career sites such as Career Builder will ask you upload your resume into their database at no charge. Resumes stored into their database are then available to hiring managers and recruiters who pay for access to search their bank of resumes.

Keep your resume up-to-date. Make sure you update your resume every few months and make it stand out. Tailor your resume to your desired job title you’re seeking and show how you’re different. For example, every time you have an achievement or are recognized by your company or industry, brag about it. This is not the time to be humble. You need to showcase the stuff that hiring managers and recruiters are looking for.

Develop online presence at beBee.com. beBee is a new personal branding platform. The network was created to allow people to showcase and share their personal brand and market themselves to employers, clients, customers, vendors and media in their respective industries. beBee allows users to network with each other through common personal and professional interests, uniting their personal and professional lives in one place.

Beef up LinkedIn profile. It’s no longer enough to just build a LinkedIn profile. You need to include the most relevant keywords used in your industry, highlight your skill sets, keep your accomplishments up-to-date, quantify achievements whenever possible, such as “increased productivity by 25%” or “doubled sales quota” and make sure your personal settings are allowing hiring managers and recruiters to view your profile. Double check by clicking on Settings, then click the Privacy header, you’ll see a Job Seeking section. Set it to the mode that allows hiring managers and recruiters to know that you’re open to opportunities.

Add Google+ to social media efforts. In addition to your LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter profiles, add Google’s social media channel, Google+. It’s definitely worth exploring. Google+ offers great chances for professionals to showcase their work through online portfolios. Check out the Google+ communities and you’ll discover a number of Google+ users are from various industries and job levels. Remember to keep your profile updated in Google+ including your current location so hiring managers and recruiters can easily find you.

Be seen in the right places. Never miss an opportunity to connect with key influencers and leaders in your field. Networking at industry events is the perfect environment to approach these people and have a discussion. Too often people shy away from the trade show exhibit hall at conferences. They fear that they will have to talk to salespeople, but these industry suppliers are some of the best people for you to get to know and learn more about the current business climate. Approximately 85% of jobs are filled through networking.

Volunteer in the community. To fill time between jobs or explore new opportunities and careers, many people are finding that a volunteer job especially in the nonprofit sector can sometimes lead to permanent, salaried employment. For example, each October, there’s the “Make a Difference Day,” one of the largest annual single-days of service nationwide. People from all walks of life, professions and industries come together with a single purpose…to improve the lives of others. On a day like this, you never know who you could meet or work alongside.

If you are in the job market, let us know what other ways you’re using to grab the attention of hiring managers and recruiters. Please post below.

2018 Hot Topics and Talent Trends in the Healthcare IT Industry

December 7, 2017

By Mike Silverstein, Managing Partner of Healthcare IT and Life Sciences

What’s in store for 2018 when it comes to Healthcare IT issues and talent? Here are 7 hot topics and talent trends that will help to shape the workforce in the New Year:

Blockchain Innovation in Healthcare & Life Sciences. While Blockchain is not new to other industries such as finance or supply chain, technologists within healthcare now see it as a way to allow people to always have access to their healthcare records and have that data anchored, encrypted, and protected. This innovative technology is also helpful in streamlining processes, lowering operational costs, eliminating duplication of work and generating new ways to integrate in a sharing-based economy. In Life Sciences, Blockchain is also making inroads for clinical trials.

According to Deloitte, the healthcare industry is planning the most aggressive deployments of blockchain, with 35 percent of health and life sciences planning to deploy by 2018. Deloitte found that 28 percent of respondents across all industries said they’d already invested $5 million or more, while 10 percent have invested $10 million or more. Certified Blockchain Professionals will be in high-demand.

People Analytics Widely Adopted.
As more Millennials become managers, they are creating employee dashboards such as Microsoft’s MyAnalytics for employees to help them better understand how their time is being spent on daily tasks, in meetings, on projects, and to measure their progress towards achieving company goals and initiatives. Ultimately, people analytics is meant to help managers and executives make decisions about their workforce.

Hospitals Building Own Apps to Transform Personalized Care.
Precision medicine by creating apps is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person. In other words, it’s personalized care. Hospitals such as Beth Israel Deaconess and Providence St. Joseph Health are building their own apps to transform the future of personalized care. As more hospitals build apps, HIT Programmers will be greater demand.

Cybersecurity Talent Wanted.
If you’re a data analyst or cybersecurity specialist, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are probably actively pursuing you. Healthcare hiring is picking up due to the lack of hospital security measures being taken. Data breaches of healthcare systems have increased by about 23 percent since 2015. Weak points including electronic medical record systems as well as the current adoption of wearable technology for patients and clients need to be addressed immediately. While the crisis in cybersecurity grows, so does the staffing need. According to the Journal of AHIMA, researchers found a significant spike in job postings demanding health IT data security certifications alongside the advanced informatics competencies and IT infrastructure skills required to manage health information in the modern digital environment.

Increased Demand for Telemedicine.
A recent report from Grand View Research, states that the telemedicine market is expected to top $113 billion by 2025, with a growth rate of 18 percent.  The increased demand for self-care and remote monitoring, are significant factors driving telehealth growth.  Plus, there will be financial benefits for providers who offer it.  Some new policy changes in Washington are opening big opportunities for hospitals and health systems to drive more revenue from virtual care.

This means that HIT professionals will play an even bigger role when it comes to developing telemedicine services. By helping to create the telehealth infrastructure, HIT professionals can help make telemedicine profitable and a permanent fixture in healthcare delivery. 

Candidate-Driven Job Market Continues.
For most industries across the US, we’re expecting the candidate-driven job market to continue and the Healthcare IT Industry is no exception. For HIT job seekers, this is great news. It means they have the power to be very selective regarding job opportunities and employers.  For employers, this means it’s high time to review your current talent acquisition strategies. Employers need to prioritize the way they source candidates, the experience those candidates have, and the offers they eventually make.

AI Represents Transformation in Healthcare.
The adoption of AI in healthcare is on the rise and solving a variety of challenges for patients, hospitals, and the overall healthcare industry.  With big data and technical capabilities, we’ve gotten to the point where new products will be created that begin to make a difference. Scientists will soon get the opportunity to prevent certain diseases, like cancer. With AI, we’re already seeing more intelligent prostheses and when AI is combined with robotics, they create personal healthcare assistants such as virtual nurses in smartphones and the ability to place a call for help in emergencies.

Across all industries including healthcare, AI is expected to create 2.3 million by 2020, according to a recent report from Gartner. Skills needed: knowledge of automation, robotics and the use of sophisticated computer software and programs. Candidates interested in pursuing jobs in this field require specific education based on foundations of math, technology, logic, and engineering. Written and verbal communication skills are also important to convey how AI tools and services are effectively employed within industry settings.

Mike Silverstein
Managing Partner of Healthcare IT and Life Sciences
440-996-0594
msilverstein@directrecruiters.com

Norm Volsky Interviews Adam Kaufman, President & CEO at Canary Health

December 15, 2017

Norm Volsky, Director of Mobile HIT interviews Adam Kaufman, President and CEO of Canary Health. Mr. Kaufman shared the mission of Canary Health, interesting trend news, and a multitude of insights from his HIT career. 

Please tell us about yourself and the mission of Canary Health.

I’m an Engineer and a Health Economist who came to Digital Health out of a passion for solutions and technology-enabled services that rethink approaches and improve people’s lives; and I have a real commitment to making sure that those solutions and services work. Canary Health is the perfect place to blend my first career as an engineer with my work in economics. We’re dedicated to the mission of empowering individuals to better self-manage and to understand how their health impacts their lives. It seems like an obvious thing, but for a lot of us we don’t stop to realize that our emotions, daily habits, and relationships are impacted by having one or more chronic conditions.  It’s a really exciting mission to be empowering people to have the health they need for the life they want.

What is Canary Health’s key differentiator in the industry?

Our key differentiator is our focus on helping people determine what matters to them and working towards what’s important to them. I think a lot of the industry has an important, but over-reliant belief that better data and analytics are going to solve the problem. We are certainly big believers in helping people see the trends in their data and leveraging analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve our service, but there is something missing in those processes that helps someone understand what matters to them. We are differentiated by this unique approach that comes from intellectual property developed at Stanford University around how you engage someone in their own health and support their self-management. That is our foundational approach to helping them understand how to better care for themselves and drive towards improved condition management.

What inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare?

Two reasons why healthcare is the most exciting place to think about how technology can improve people’s lives: One is that it’s a great mission to know that every day we are working on impacting people’s lives in one of the most basic ways; their health and their ability to do the things they want.  Second is that the healthcare industry has lagged far behind in terms of the adoption of technology and the way that technology has disrupted the traditional service patterns. It’s an exciting place to be able to work on both a great mission and to make impact given how much opportunity there is to rethink care delivery and patient engagement.

What trends do you expect to see in the HIT industry in the next 5 years?

The most talked about trend, and I certainly agree, is Healthcare’s connection to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the ability to now leverage data to speed the processes, feedback loops and intelligence. I think that’s really interesting. What I think is less talked about, although maybe even more impactful, is how we are finally past the early adopter stage of health technology permeating the rest of our lives. I’m particularly interested in the extensions of health into other areas of our lives – like some of the innovative work with Alexa, and the rapid adoption of monitoring devices.  In the normal course of how individuals buy and shop for things, or interact with technology, health is often front and center. There have been some false starts in some of the bigger consumer technology companies into healthcare but I don’t think they’re giving up. Apple is taking another stab at it and Google is very involved, so I think that hopefully in the next 3-5 years we will start to see health as an element of our life that fits into the way we think about all the other things we’re doing.

How is your company getting into AI and Machine Learning?

We think that regardless of how great the technology is, healthcare is still a human delivered service, so a large part of our service is the technology, the experience on the app, and the experience with the devices we ship, but an important part of it is also the interaction with our coaches. We have a network of almost 90 coaches who interact with participants of our services. One of the first places we are applying AI and intelligent feedback loops is into what this coaching element. We look to help them learn about the personalities and the demographics of participants, not just whether they’re male or female, but how it all rolls up into a personality type, and how we can then help them be smarter about the way they respond to questions. Clearly there’s a lot of gain in getting the right answers, but we make the connection of who the user is as we know about them through the technology and through their consumer profile with our coaches’ engagement. We think it’s a really exciting application that can make our coaching more effective and more efficient while driving towards a more tailored and custom experience.

What interesting new projects are you working on?

A big project for us, and for us it’s the whole reason we’re here, is to further embed self-management support into condition management approaches.  We see that as focusing on what matters to an individual and empowering him or her to set goals to own that process. What I mean by condition management is the more clinical element of medications, physiological measures and clinical care related to a consumer’s disease. We want to connect that experience, which is primarily a disease management experience, with the self-management experience. That’s our big push and our reason for being; to humanize those programs that historically have been too clinical and not focused enough on what matters to the individual.

Have you had a mentor or mentors throughout your career?

I have had a number of mentors. I think some mentors are people who are in your life forever and some play particular roles.  My first boss at my first job out of college was just an incredible mentor professionally, but also showed at that stage how you could run a business, be friendly with the people you work with and care about them, but at the same time lead your own life, have a family and be committed to them, and be committed to other elements. He was such an important mentor because he was a good example of how to make a successful professional career fit with a successful life. My advisor in grad school was incredibly important for helping me think about some of the more intellectual challenges, and the Chairman of the Board at my previous company is someone that I deeply respect and continue to look to for guidance.  And in addition to bosses, a number of colleagues have been incredibly mentors. I have also had an executive coach off and on for a decade and that has been incredibly valuable as well.  I think sometimes we can use the word mentor too hierarchically and would encourage a broader perspective.

What strategies do you use at Canary Health to attract and retain top talent?

The easy answer is we do what everyone else would say; we make sure compensation is competitive and work towards ensuring delight in our team’s roles. I think that’s table stakes. For us we focus on a culture and approach of real transparency; we are incredibly honest with people as we’re hiring them.  We’ll openly discuss topics around our corporate trajectory and growth for example.

This, for example, has been very valuable in Digital Health to level set expectations that might be brought from consumer technology companies around the pace of growth.  I have stressed with candidates that if they’re here for a quick win in terms of equity liquidation, we’re not the right place. We’ve lost some candidates to folks who are seeking more of the Silicon Valley cycle, but it has allowed us to attract great people who are aligned with our mission and aligned with our approach to focusing on impact and growth at the same time.

Participant Engagement in your program are at high levels and a 90% satisfaction rate. What do you attribute this success to?

We take design very seriously and we take the user journey very seriously. We put participants at the center to decide what they want to commit to and what matters to them. Our design philosophy is about them first. We never make a recommendation; we give tips or examples but really everything participants are doing is something they’ve committed to. It’s all about them inside of a framework of support, tools, coaching, and nudging that we know they need to be successful but they’re the ones setting the way it works. On top of that, our cultural honesty permeates the way we act with our participants. Our service is not a single transaction, so it’s about engaging folks long term. We’re honest with them about how fast we think things will happen, and honest with them about what they need to put in to get there. The participants know what to expect and that helps keep them engaged.

What do you believe are the traits and qualities of a great leader?

I think I would start by saying I don’t know if I know. I think leadership evolves. What people need evolves and different qualities are needed at different stages of a company so I don’t think there’s a single answer. It depends on the situation and depends on what was promised to the people you’re leading. It comes back to authenticity; it’s different in each setting. Leadership in a video game company would be different than if you’re a coach of a sports team, and different than in our business. Our team, extended team and participants know we believe what we are saying, and we’re clear about it. That’s really critical.

Your LinkedIn profile mentions that you are active in a number of organizations with a primary focus on defining and measuring the health and economic impact of technology. What steps are you taking to achieve this within your organization?

That passion and commitment comes from my graduate work. My PHD is in Health Economics and Health Program Evaluation. To me, it’s a commitment to rigor around evidence. We’re about building long-term sustainable impact, while also building a big company. This takes time.  We could fool ourselves in the short run, but eventually it’s going to catch up to us and there’s no long-term value in that. To say we’re data driven is easy, but what is harder is building the culture data and insights that matter.   Some of the ways we do this are simple – like closing not only our financials, but participant engagement milestones regularly and with rigor and holding a weekly meeting that is attended by the whole senior team and all team leaders to review, look for correlations and drive upcoming behavior. We also work with our clients to match the outcomes we have in our programs with what they’re collecting, which allows us to connect the participant experience to utilization and expense. The third thing we do is build rigorous clinical trials, often with our academic partner. For example, our colleagues at Stanford and Anthem have run a major trial in which they’re looking at clinical outcomes and utilization, and they’re doing it in a very rigorous way because they are committed to publishing the information out to the public.

What advice would you give professionals looking to break into the HIT industry?

The biggest piece of advice I would give is that it is very multidisciplinary. HIT is often, although not exclusively, not deep foundational technology, but it’s technology that needs to be utilized and integrated with clinical care. For a technologist, having some sense of the business case and use cases is helpful and for the business side to know how technology is utilized and where it goes. Just within our company we’ve got clinicians, designers, product people, and economists. Because HIT is still an emerging field, there’s no core curriculum just yet – I think we’re getting closer, so you cannot just train yourself for just that. Being open to the reality that we are still figuring out how these different disciplines fit together is going to be critical for anyone who wants to get into HIT.

Norm Volsky
Director of Mobile HIT
440-996-0059
nvolsky@directrecruiters.com

Brian Silverstein Interviews Bruce Brandes – CEO, Founder of Lucro

December 1, 2017

Brian Silverstein, Director of Life Sciences recently had the opportunity to interview a Healthcare IT industry leader, Bruce Brandes - CEO, Founder of Lucro. Mr. Brandes shared the background of Lucro, thoughts about trends and innovations in the industry, and other helpful insights. 

Please tell us about yourself and the company you founded, Lucro.

I’ve spent 28 years in healthcare IT, first with IBM and then with a series of growth-stage software and technology companies.  

We started Lucro in 2015, in partnership with a network of leading health systems, to help them decrease costs and save time by simplifying their buying process.  As a byproduct of our digital platform, Lucro delivers a new marketing channel that improves efficiency and lowers sales costs for vendors.

What was your motivation and the background behind founding Lucro, and where did the name come from?

My entire career as a vendor, I thought the sales process in healthcare was nonsensical.  While I was managing director at Martin Ventures (with longtime hospital operator, Charlie Martin), we realized the long, expensive sales cycle was just a symptom of the root problem – that the hospital buying cycle was broken for complex, collaborative vendor selections.  Through our collective relationships, we aligned with health systems that collectively operate 20% of all the hospitals in the country, and added financial backing of HCA and Heritage Group, to develop a solution.

Comically, the company name was about our 20th choice, as all the other names we liked were already taken by an overcrowded universe of unknown, new digital health companies.  “Lucro” is from the Spanish root meaning “to gain” or “to profit.”

Given the success of Lucro – How will you disrupt the healthcare market?

The healthcare organizations using Lucro are collectively retraining the vendor community on their preferred way to discover, evaluate, and choose new products and services.

For buyers, Lucro manages their vendor selection process, replacing antiquated RFIs and RFPs, fragmented spreadsheets and documents, and an unmanageable volume of emails and meetings.

For sellers, the platform redirects ineffective sales and marketing spend, to focus on more relevant, qualified opportunities – while offering unprecedented market insights regarding industry needs and positioning their solutions.

With innovation as a common theme throughout your career and Lucro, how do you make sure that your company is always driving innovation?

I believe for us to be successful, there are three key elements:

  • a deep understanding and singular focus on the problem we seek to solve
  • imagine a solution without being constrained by legacy thinking or incentives
  • recruit and empower a team of complementary talents within an aligned culture

When did you feel that your business model was going to be a success and you were solving the problem you set out to solve?

We are never too complacent regarding any successes we achieve, but our team is particularly encouraged when we see examples of virality – our current clients proactively sharing our solution with their peers to encourage them to actively engage in the network.

What advice would you give to up and coming entrepreneurs in the industry?

Going to market in healthcare is unique from other industries – neither be naïve nor discouraged – there is meaningful opportunity for passionate entrepreneurs to make a difference in people’s health and wellness.

What are the biggest challenges you see in the healthcare industry at this point?

Amid transformational clinical and technical breakthroughs, the underlying business model of healthcare has created misaligned financial incentives to common sense solutions.  Established and emerging stakeholders face unprecedented change and uncertainty, clouding the path forward for all.

What trends do you expect to see in the healthcare industry in the next 5 years?

The consumer will begin to be in charge of how, when, and where care is delivered, as the individual will realize meaningful incentives for making healthier, fiscally responsible choices regarding their care.

They will seek care based on cost, convenience, and quality, the rational way most consumers make every other purchase decision in their life.  More care will be managed by loved ones in the home, supported virtually by clinicians that come to you, with a shift away from hospitals.

Unfortunately, I do not believe these changes will happen nearly as quickly as many predict.  Healthcare is complicated for many reasons, and many current stakeholders that stand to be disrupted will slow this inevitable shift.

As a leader, what traits do you think define leadership?

Well, there are lots of leaders – with both good and bad intentions.  Vision, integrity, and selflessness characterize those who lead for good.

What made you choose healthcare as a focus in your career path?

I always imagine my mother, my wife, my daughter as the person in need of care and want to help empower the passionate clinicians and supportive organizations to do the best jobs they can to systematically provide the best healthcare possible.

What new technologies or innovations are you most excited about in the industry?

There are so many innovations that hold great promise – and I believe the most encouraging ones are those that are insanely simple solutions to big problems.

Two of my favorite examples to which I’ve recently become introduced:

Accendowave – a small device worn by a patient that uses EEG technology to remove the subjectivity from the assessment of pain – this can lead to happier, more comfortable patients while preventing overuse of opioids.

IRIS (Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems) – empowers primary care doctors to offer a simple test in their office to end preventable blindness in diabetic patients.

What is on your pizza?

I am a pizza snob – I make my own at home every Friday – a family favorite!  However, I confess that I get my toppings from the hot bar at Whole Foods – so it varies every week depending on which veggies and meats look best that day!

Brian Silverstein
Director of Life Sciences
440-996-0877
bsilverstein@directrecruiters.com