What made you enter this field?
Growing up, I worked for my father’s medical imaging company and spent a great deal of time in and around hospitals. Later, after I had completed an undergrad in engineering, I chose to do a MBA specializing in Health Services Management. All my coop terms were spent working with various hospital organizations on the administration side, and eventually I settled in as a redevelopment project manager. Through that experience, I became enamoured with how the physical elements of a hospital influence patient care – I also realized that I could leverage both my healthcare administration and engineering experience through design.
Tell us about your job – what is your typical day?
I’m both the managing principal for the DIALOG Toronto studio and a healthcare planner. That means a typical day for me is roughly 50% administrative tasks – overseeing major functions like finance, HR and operations; and 50% hands-on project work – where I work as an integrator, bringing our clients together with our multi-disciplinary project teams. In this capacity, my primary role is to facilitate communication, connecting the dots and actions required to deliver projects like the HHS master plan.
What is the most gratifying part of your job?
I love problem solving, and hospitals offer many complex challenges – challenges that are virtually impossible to solve in isolation. It’s very gratifying for me to engage with front line staff and clinicians to explore a variety of potential solutions and build consensus for a preferred direction. By working collaboratively, we create solutions that are not only functional and operational, but also ones that the staff are proud of.
What is the most challenging aspect of capital planning in a hospital setting?
Think about this: the average lifetime of a healthcare project is over 10 years! As a result, the biggest challenge in capital planning is probably managing expectations, both for the speed of delivery and cost of projects, but also for the project outcomes. Different stakeholders have competing priorities; and what one group wants can directly contradict another’s vision. The challenge is in finding balanced solutions that benefit the whole hospital by prioritizing needs to bring the best value to the project.
Any observations on HHS and our ambitious project? Is it one of the biggest projects you have been involved in?
HHS is looking to virtually double the size of several of its facilities. This is a huge multi-site project, and is one of the most complex master planning projects we’ve undertaken. One of the biggest challenges results from the amount of space required to meet the program within extremely dense sites with limited footprints – but we love a good challenge!
What do you do for fun when you’re not doing your job?
First and foremost, I love spending time with my two young children. Both are competitive athletes, and I get so much pleasure from watching their games and helping them train. I also enjoy working on DIY projects around the house. Part of me wants to take on these fix-it challenges because I don’t trust the job to anyone else; but really, it’s the sense of accomplishment I feel when I complete the project for my family. It may take me a while, but I always get the job done!