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Finding a Voice as a Leader

For This Alumna, it is All About the People

Dr. Virginia RothIn January 2018, Virginia Roth, EMBA 2012, started her new role as Chief of Staff of The Ottawa Hospital (TOH). She says her focus will be on continuing to keep the physicians and the hospital in lock step – working together toward the same goals. “Neither the hospital nor the physicians can be successful if we’re moving in different directions. Every hospital needs a well-thought-out vision. A lot of the physicians who work at TOH say they like working here because of the hospital’s vision of providing the best patient care. If you start with a common vision, the decision-making process flows from that.” One of the challenges in her particular position is leading physicians who are not technically employees of the hospital. “Since there isn’t an employer-employee relationship between the hospital and the physicians, it’s important in my role to lead by influence and inspiration. Thankfully, this is a skill I honed while doing my Executive MBA."

Attaining an Executive MBA was not something Virginia planned to do. However, she was encouraged by the hospital’s senior management to look at the various programs and consider the opportunity. “In reviewing the different MBA programs, it was important for me that it was local and had an in-person experience. For these reasons I chose the Telfer Executive MBA. Through the program, I developed relationships with my classmates who have backgrounds in different industries. As a physician, I am so ingrained in my area of expertise that it was really beneficial to hear perspectives from people who work outside my sector. The concepts are the same but everyone comes at things differently based on their own backgrounds and this provides you with tremendous learning. Now I can pick up the phone and call a classmate and ask what they would do in a certain situation. They know nothing about my reality at the hospital but they understand leadership, so having those connections is invaluable.”

As a leader, Virginia admits her preference was to sit back, listen and observe. But her Executive MBA teammates taught her that if she wanted to be an influential leader, she had to be visible; she had to be heard. “The highlight of the Telfer Executive MBA program is the people. They helped me learn that having great ideas and a vision is not enough – you have to be able to articulate it to others. The program and my classmates were integral in giving me confidence as a leader and helping me find my voice.”

Virginia is especially proud of an annual performance review process she helped put in place at the hospital after graduating from the program. “One of the top things we were told by our physicians was that they received feedback only when something went wrong. I feel strongly about our physicians being engaged and felt we needed to act on this feedback. I, along with a team, developed an annual performance review process that gives formative feedback for the physicians. Questions include: How has the last year gone for you? What are your goals? How can we support you? While it has taken some time, the process has been embraced and the physicians are appreciative that their work is being recognized. The process begins with self-reflection, followed by an in-person meeting, and includes anonymous feedback from patients and peers. This concept is relatively new in hospitals and I’m proud that it is now garnering attention from other hospitals.”

View Dr. Roth's interview on CTV:


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