Attendees of the Emerging Technologies 2019 Series at Cambia Grove came to hear a panel of Seattle healthcare companies and their leaders discuss exploring careers and new opportunities in the digital health innovation realm. Dave Cooper, PsyD, Technical Product Manager of Xealth hosted and the panel featured Kirsten Duncan, PharmD, Director, Healthcare and Life Sciences Partnerships at Arivale, David Ross, CTO & Co-Founder of Twistle, Savanna Thompson, Director of Talent at 98Point6, Leigh Wager, Director of Product Management at MedBridge, and Yooli Hardy, Director of Digital Health Innovation at Seattle Children’s. The following are some highlights from the panel:
How did you land your current role? If you came from outside of healthcare, how did you transition into it?
Dave Cooper was working for the Department of Defense before joining Xealth. Going from a large bureaucracy to a startup was a big change for him. He had some experience in healthcare being that he was a practicing Clinical Psychologist but he had to learn a lot about technology in his new role. He recommends the internet to learn about anything new.
Kirsten Duncan has a Pharmacy degree but never used it in the traditional sense. She consulted pharmaceutical companies but was finding herself bored with work. She loved working with clients more so than being a people manager. She spent nine months job searching and networking with people at Cambia Grove, Women in Bio and at other events about how each of them moved from industry to industry. She advises being intentional about making a meaningful connection with others where you’re helping others and sharing ideas and not just trying to get something out of the relationship. Be open because there is so much opportunity, especially in Seattle. Think big.
David Ross came from a family of doctors. He never was a doctor himself but involved with technology and health sciences. He came to Seattle almost ten years ago to work for a startup. It was a big risk but he is glad he took a chance on working for young companies. He advises to not be afraid to venture into the unknown. There is not a single type of role that Twistle isn’t hiring for so almost anyone could be qualified for a role in some degree.
Savanna Thompson went from working for large bureaucratic companies and onto Seattle startups such as Porch and eventually wound up at 98Point6 whose mission is to transfer primary care. She loves working with smart people on a product that she’s thrilled to be apart of developing. Startup life is ambiguous and challenging and not for everyone. One might deal with some imposter syndrome working at a startup but as long as someone is determined, has the right attitude and knows how to collaborate, he or she will likely be on the right track for success.
Leigh Wager first worked as a geologist for a Nigerian company right out of college. She had four bosses at a time and didn’t someday want to inherit their responsibilities, so she moved on and started out as an entry-level Project Manager at MedBridge due to her interest in physical therapy and sports medicine growing up. But she saw the potential in the young company and saw it was growing and that there would be a lot of opportunities to develop within the organization despite not having a tech background. She advises to never stop asking questions and find a field to work in that invokes passion. Engage with others whether it be with colleagues as well as during networking events.
Yooli Hardy sold knives in college, became a manager for the company and was so good at it that she moved to Tacoma, WA after graduating to open an office for her employer. She went back to school at the University of Washington to study Health Informatics and Health Information Management and recalls taking coding classes and feeling over her head. Networking was key for her to finding direction in making choices. She also advises finding a mentor, someone to look to when starting a new role or upon graduating. She went on to work for Seattle Children’s in clinical documentation as an analyst before moving up to a management role and beyond.
What advice would you have for job seekers?
Duncan- Don’t ever sell yourself short. She inquired about working for Arivale when they weren’t hiring. When she was approached for a position that created for her, she reviewed the job description in detail and worried she wasn’t qualified. She knew there was a lot she had to learn, but she was willing to roll up her sleeves and jump in. “Don’t be defined by the skillset you have,” she advises to job seekers.
Ross- Experience is not always the equalizer. He’s learned more from candidates when they interview about what he might really need out of a role. He looks for candidates he feels will elevate him as a leader as well as the company. It can help for job candidates to share what unique ideas or skills they might able to bring the table.
Thompson is looking for candidates who align with 98Point6’s core values, those who collaborate and commit. When you realize you want to work for a company, don’t hold back on making your intentions known. Persistence pays off.
Wager- It’s all about quality, collaboration, resourcefulness, and passion. Does a candidate show that they are curious and care about what impact they can have on behalf of a company? Figure out how to have the voice of the customer for the potential employer.
Hardy- Curiosity is huge and important. Candidates should ask a lot of questions about the position being interviewed for as well as the organization.
How do you measure success and how do you prioritize?
Kirsten Duncan says the focus should be on the end user. They are passionate about optimizing health and wellness for customers. Developing strategic partnerships is key but more importantly, it is about improving patient outcomes and quality of life.
David Ross- Success is measured on whether the company helps healthcare providers improve outcomes by keeping patients engaged, informed, and satisfied while they receive treatment. He loves hearing winning stories about helping patients and making a difference in their lives.
Savanna Thompson indicates that success is measured on whether the company is able to provide quality, affordable primary care. Patient access is what guides them. They do something called “Voice of the Patient” where they get feedback from users are how the product can evolve for the better but also how it has helped the patient.
Leigh Wager- It’s key for MedBridge to know that they’ve helped facilitate a positive and communicative relationship between the clinician and the patient.
Yooli Hardy- It’s important that they help their patients (children) live their healthiest, most full-filling lives possible. This year has been a lot about her learning to say no to certain things in order to say yes to the right few things (focus on a few things and do them well).
Job seekers, I hope this advice is useful in taking the next step in your careers.