What does it take to be a leader in health care? For Wade Blomgren, regional business manager at Roche Diagnostics, the answer lies in the ability to collaborate across all facets of the health care system. “In health care, there is no one right answer. At a high level, you need to understand the big picture, then find the right people to help figure out the options and get the job done. The key is collaboration – finding others who complement what you do and don’t do well.”

The collaborative environment is what drew Blomgren to the Health Care UST MBA program at St. Thomas for his continuing development. In the midst of a successful career in sales and customer service following 13 years as an army officer, he recognized that he needed to better understand the “big picture” of business and health care to be effective in the new stage of his career as a regional business manager. What better way to gain this understanding than by immersing himself in a program of health care leaders that represent the full spectrum of the industry and range from individual contributors to presidents? “The cohort structure of this program truly allows us to learn from each other and challenges us all to think differently about how to tackle the problems and opportunities facing the industry.”

Blomgren feels that courses like human resources help break down the barriers between the different business models represented in the class and allows students to explore the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches. “For example, I bring the leadership experience of the military and large, for-profit vendors in which leaders seldom have more than 9 direct reports.  Some of my clinical colleagues in the program have 40 or more direct reports and we discuss the implications of these structures on an organization’s ability to effectively lead and development its people.”

One of the things Blomgren most appreciates about the program is its focus on critical thinking. “We’re often given incomplete information and we need to be resourceful about finding what we need to get the job done with limited direction. We learned quickly that we can’t do it alone and that we had to figure out how to work together to make sure we ALL succeed. Like the real world, there are no clear “wrong” or “right” answers, but there are better ways to think about a problem. We’re forced to get comfortable with ambiguity – which is exactly what it takes to succeed as a leader in today’s rapidly evolving health care environment.”

Blomgren concludes that the experience is “helping us all take the blinders off and see not just the area of health care we work in, but to better understand our organizations, the entire health system, and the impact of what we do on all of society.”