Monday, August 15, 2016

John R. Fernandez, President and Chief Executive Officer, MEEI

Today’s guest is John Fernandez, the President and CEO of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, Massachusetts. Mass Eye and Ear is one of the world’s leading specialty hospitals dedicated to ophthalmology and otolaryngology care, or as John says, they take care of everything from the neck up except the brain, but maybe the brain too sometimes. 

In this podcast John talks about his journey to leading this world class organization, including his progress into the executive ranks at another world class Boston organization, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Throughout the interview, John talks about his management approach, which focuses on the fundamentals: plan, execute, follow up. While this sounds like a fairly simple formula, I think anyone who has tried it knows that simple isn’t always easy. John tempers his management approach with a focus on kindness, which was something heartening to hear from a senior executive. 

One of the things that is clearly important to John is work life balance. We talked about work-life balance both before and during the interview, and one of the pieces of advice he gives to early careerists is to get your personal life sorted out first, and then figure out what you want from work, which was interesting advice. John has a series of questions that he gives people to help guide them through that process. You can find a reproduction of the slides he shared with me with the questions here.

Links to the Podcast:
Transcript: A transcript of the podcast is available here.

Podcast Outline

0:02:19 Education the College of Wooster
0:04:41 starting out in management consulting
0:08:11 University of Pennsylvania, Masters in Government Administration
0:11:02 starting in healthcare at Boston City Hospital
0:15:50 learning healthcare, discovering management problems
0:18:27 watching the "craziness of healthcare", up close
0:19:50 planning and following up - the secret of management
0:20:40 The One Minute Manager - giving feedback
0:22:04 Are leaders made or born?
0:24:43 Management is difficult - not everyone is cut out for it
0:27:17 about Brigham and Women's Hospital, "a young organization"
0:29:45 "The Pike" - how physical plant affects culture
0:31:07 Dr. Michael Zinner, new Chief of Surgery and new opportunity
0:34:10 becoming Vice President for Surgical Services, Brigham and Women's
0:35:37 relationship between the administrative and clinical leadership
0:44:14 leadning up to VP - honing people skills, planning skills, space planning
0:45:56 the responsibilities of being a Vice President at Brigham and Woman's
0:50:53 expanding VP portfolio - 2100 FTEs and $300M budget - changes to leadership
0:57:34 the importance of not appearing too busy - special projects
1:00:17 Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary - background
1:02:17 what is a "specialty hospital"?
1:03:27 basic research vs. clinical trials
1:04:20 how do patients come to be seen at MEEI?
1:06:52 Affiliate of Partners Healthcare
1:08:41 Governance and the Role of the MEEI Board
1:14:47 a day in the life of the CEO
1:15:40 assembling the right team as CEO - it's about fit
1:18:18 organizational culture
1:20:01 leadership philosophy - plan and execute, how can we be kind
1:21:34 advice to early careerists

Links to Selected Topics Discussed

Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

The One Minute Manager

Partners Healthcare

Brigham and Women's Hospital

Boston Medical Center

University of Pennsylvania, Government Administration

College of Wooster

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