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A Unique Perspective…Mike Silverstein Interviews Steve Bock, Managing Director Healthcare Solutions Group, CGI
Tell me about yourself and the company.
I currently lead CGI’s Healthcare Solutions Group, a vertical business focused on selling and delivering solutions and services to Healthcare Providers. Our mission is to “improve the Health of Healthcare” by building and delivering world class products and services. Our Sovera solution was designed and built to automate workflow and manage unstructured content across the business functions of large health systems. Today, Sovera is deployed to over 250 hospitals and used by over 200,000 professionals. We also offer complementary consulting, systems integration and business process outsourcing services. Our clients include some of the largest and most admired health systems across North America, and our recent acquisition of Logica expands our reach globally.
My career path to my current general management role and healthcare focus included several years in various Product Management and Product Strategy roles with McKesson Corporation. I like to say I was tossed into the deep end of the pool, where as VP, Product Management, I found myself surrounded by experienced physicians, nurses and other healthcare industry veterans — so I had to learn quickly. My prior consulting and product development experience enabled me to do just that. I had the opportunity to work in both the payer and provider businesses of McKesson, which provided me with a unique perspective. In my time there, I managed a portfolio of software products at various stages in the product lifecycle from new product launch to sunset including McKesson’s flagship Physician Portal.
Prior to Product Management, my career followed a typical consulting track starting as a staff consultant with Andersen and progressing to higher levels of responsibility as a Principal leading a consulting business. My consulting experience included large scale enterprise software development and implementation projects to business process transformation and eventually building and leading high growth professional services organizations focused on enterprise software implementation with Hewlett-Packard, SAP and PeopleSoft.
I have an MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta and a Systems Design Engineering undergraduate degree from University of Waterloo, Canada.
What has made you personally successful in your healthcare career?
I attribute my success to my strong consulting roots, which equipped me with skills to learn quickly, ask good questions, think strategically but act tactfully and influence others as a change agent. I also was blessed to have many great mentors and managers over my career who took my under their wing to coach me and provide stretch opportunities to enable me to learn and grow. My experience building and implementing solutions to solve business problems in other industries is growing more and more relevant and valuable in healthcare today as we look for fresh unconventional ideas to solve today’s industry’s challenges. For a long time, healthcare was known as a “closed” industry that was very difficult to break into without prior experience. However, with the industry transformation going on now, healthcare players need and value new perspectives, creative solutions and best practices from other industries.
What is the biggest challenge on your plate right now?
The Health IT industry is going through major transformation, consolidation and change. This requires new skills, new experience and new solutions that simply don’t exist today. One the biggest challenges is simply keeping ahead of the curve to see where the market is going so we can continue to innovate new solution offerings to solve tomorrow’s challenges as well as today’s. This means attracting, building and retaining the right capabilities and the right capacity at the right time to capture the window of market opportunity. It’s a constant balance of hiring additional sales people to meet the market demand and develop the pipeline while adding product developers to accelerate product development with adding more consulting professionals to work with our clients… and of course doing all that while managing predictable and profitable growth. I could not imagine a more exciting industry to work in.
Please give us a recap of HIMSS and how has this annual event evolved over the years for CGI?
HIMSS’13 was bigger and better than ever this year, and New Orleans’ southern hospitality made it a great host city! On the expansive exhibit show floor and in education sessions, some of the hot topics included clinical and business analytics, managing Big Data and the managing unstructured content within health systems, improving patient access and preparing for the upcoming ICD-10 deadline. CGI’s broad and global capabilities include solutions and services in all these areas. Our healthcare business has experienced rapid growth and we are well positioned to have that continue. Our unique healthcare presence spans provider, payer, life sciences and state, local and federal government. We were very pleased with the traffic in our booth and the opportunity to connect with a large number of clients and prospects to share our many new offerings. As usual, the week of HIMSS resulted in sore feet, a robust list of leads to follow-up on and long list of to-dos. Time well spent!
What is your philosophy and/or methods with regards to retaining top talent?
Health IT skills are definitely in short supply and are a “hot commodity” in today’s competitive market place. CGI is able to attract, retain and inspire top talent based on the growing number of opportunities we have working with our clients and developing our market leading solution offerings. We offer unmatched flexibility to our employees, which we call “Members,” to support their professional and personal goals. We provide a number of tools and support for ongoing training and professional development including our CGI “Career Development Framework,” which articulates the competencies, experience and expectations needed in our Members to progress in the organization, hundreds of online training classes, a structured mentoring program and executive development program for top talent. I am thankful to have the opportunity to work with some of the brightest and most dedicated and skilled professionals in the industry
What is the most important characteristic a sales person/sales leader needs to have to be successful?
Selling is definitely more of an art than a science, and a sales person’s success is as heavily influenced by the organization, the solutions being sold and sales support resources and processes as much as individual’s sales ability. Health IT is a tough industry to sell into, and there is a relatively small community of candidates who have the specific experience, domain knowledge and experience selling into a given market segment.
From a client’s perspective – making a purchase is an emotional decision. People buy from people they have a relationship with and trust. A Health IT purchase is a long-term partnership with the vendor – not a single transaction. Purchasers invest in a solution based on a promise that it solves their problem and eliminates their pain. When buying a solution, you are buying more than the features/functions provided today but also the vision and plan of what it will become. You are making a commitment to have a partnership with a company to realize that. Good sales people quickly uncover the client’s real and hidden needs, understand how the purchase decision is made and funded and then craft a solution that the buyer has both a personal and emotional connection with. Good sales people know their client, know the industry and know the solution being sold. They have the right mix of strategic ability and tactical sales execution to effectively develop the opportunity into a sale. Of course, perseverance and tenacity are also needed to bring the order home on time.
How do you build a client’s trust?
Trust is definitely something that is earned and built over time. It is based on demonstrating honesty and integrity in every interaction. It is the reward of consistently delivering high-value solutions that solve clients’ most critical business problem on time, within budget and with high quality. It requires a deep demonstration that you understand their industry, business and challenges – and more time spent listening than talking. Trust comes from transparency into each other’s needs and constraints and crafting win-win strategies. Today’s healthcare leaders are seeking fresh, creative and unconventional solutions to their business problems from a few trusted advisors. CGI is proud to serve as a trusted advisor to many of our nation’s leading health systems.
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