How do you build a satisfying, robust career in a rapidly changing world? Ann Bray would tell you to never stop learning. Bray’s M.B.A. adds a business perspective to a career already shaped by education and experience in health care and law. As vice president of strategic initiatives and general counsel at Hazelden, Bray brings all of these perspectives and more to the table.
Bray spent 13 years as a registered nurse. “I loved medicine, but I was concerned about issues such as how care was delivered. I couldn’t influence the system,” she said. Deciding to pursue a position that would help her play a role in influencing policy decisions, Bray originally thought of pursuing a graduate degree in public health, but after taking a law class, she decided to pursue a J.D. She worked as a lawyer for a while but discovered that, despite the important influence law can have on health care delivery, she needed an understanding of business to give her access to work on the leading edge of the issues. “Credibility is important. I needed an M.B.A. with a health care focus,” she said.
Her search for the appropriate business education led her to the Health Care UST MBA program, which had the quality, flexibility and health care focus she was seeking. She also liked the cohort nature of the program and remains in contact with many members of her cohort. “We have different ideas. It’s nice to get a viewpoint from outside my niche.”
Bray’s colleagues at Hazelden value the combination of education and experience she brings to the job. Nick Motu, publisher and vice president of marketing and communications, said, “Ann has an entrepreneurial spirit. She has blossomed as a business person, and she was not initially hired as one. She is a good business leader as well as a legal leader. She looks at both business implications and legal implications when she examines contracts. Ann understands the business needs. She’s juggling a lot and doing well.”
Not only does Bray have a wide variety of formal educational and career experiences, she also has a broad range of interests outside of work. She rides horses and competes nationally in Western horse events. She also has experience doing interior design work for herself and others. She has used that experience in her current role by contributing her ideas to the designs of some of Hazelden’s facilities with the goal of offering patients an atmosphere that is less like a hospital and more like a home. Such an atmosphere is not only more welcoming but also helps patients transition from the Hazelden campus to home.
Bray’s father served as police chief in St. Paul and also as a state senator. He is still active today, riding horses and roping cattle. His courage, the high expectations he has of himself and his ability to change careers inspire her. She is not shy, however, about considering anyone and everyone as a role model. “You need to stay open to being influenced by the people you meet,” she said. “An artist in San Francisco, a street vendor in New York. Knowledge is cumulative, and I try to accumulate a lot of knowledge. I’m looking for answers. I need to be open to a lot of different experiences.”
As someone who looks for answers from many different people, Bray values her team. Bray sees herself as a contributor to Hazelden, right along with those she works with. “I seek out out good ideas and bring them to life. I’m a pot-stirrer. My job is bringing out the best of Hazelden. There are lots of great ideas.”
About Hazelden Hazelden provides drug and alcohol addiction treatment at locations in Minnesota, Florida, Illinois, Oregon and New York. Although the rich and famous have sought out Hazelden for treatment, “we see far more ordinary folks,” said Bray. Hazelden takes commercial insurance and offers scholarships. “We do a lot to be accessible,” she said. This accessibility includes innovative outreach to young people; recently, they opened a collegiate recovery residence in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood. Bray views drug and alcohol treatment as one of the most exciting fields in medicine. “It’s very consumer-directed. We’ve learned a lot about how consumers shop for health care through our field.” Addiction treatment is also a very innovative field. “We use social media, people helping people.” For example, Hazelden recently introduced the mobile application MORE, a personalized coaching tool. “The U.S. Navy uses the MORE program, which beams onboard to ships,” said Bray.
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