Happy New Year!
Today marks my first blog post of 2016 and exactly one year since I began my position as President and CEO of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned and experienced this year (I’ve learned so much!) and what this blog can showcase. One thing I plan to experiment with is an occasional series of interviews and guest blogs with members of the Holland Bloorview team that highlight who they are, what makes them tick and how they improve the lives of kids with disabilities and their families.
In fairness to those I’ll be interviewing this year, I thought I’d go first.
What have you learned most from your first year at Holland Bloorview?
This was a huge learning year and I take the responsibility of my role very seriously. I never had trouble sleeping before this role, but the decisions we make have an enormous impact on the lives of children and families. I have been hugely impressed by the talent and quality of the people I work with not only at Holland Bloorview, but also peers across healthcare and children’s rehabilitation in Ontario and beyond. The people I’ve met are compassionate, committed and very thoughtful. Last but far from least I’ve learned to ask patients and families first (not when we already think we have a solution): they are an incredible source of expertise and practical wisdom.
What was the most surprising thing you learned this past year?
I’ve learned about the complexity of the lives of families of kids with disabilities and medical complexity. On average these children will be involved with between 6-15 health services. In addition, it can cost three times as much to raise a child with a disability than a typically developing child. Combine that with the fact that of our families 30% earn under $60,000 and you get a picture of the challenges that our families surmount every day.
Who inspires you?
First, of course, the kids and youth we serve – they show us what perseverance and determination really mean. I’m also inspired by the expert professionals at Holland Bloorview. I don’t need to know everything they know. I need to be able to help them do their work and support opportunities for them to have impact. In order to do that effectively I need to understand what they do and some of what makes them tick. I really enjoy being surrounded by people who know more than me and from whom I can learn. Holland Bloorview gives me all those opportunities.
What was your first management role?
I’m a lawyer by training and in the late-90s I was the policy lead for development of same sex equality legislation to bring various laws into compliance with the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in M v H. The project team I managed was made up of experienced lawyers from across government, none of whom reported to me. This taught me a lot about leadership from accountability rather than authority. We worked together to meet a tough deadline with a huge volume of work.
What makes an ideal team?
I love being surrounded by people who are passionate about what they do and are always striving to do better. I never want a team of complacent people who are okay with being okay. As a leader, I try to bring together people who can challenge me and each other from a position of mutual respect and make each other better as individuals and collectively. This is exactly what we do every day at Holland Bloorview.
What quality do you appreciate most in others?
A sense of humour and kindness.
What do you think your best quality is?
What’s your main fault?
That’s hard to limit to one! Probably impatience.
What’s the last book you read?
I finished Antony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See recently. Currently I’m reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.
Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. If you have suggestions about who I should interview on the blog in 2016, please let me know!