Chief Digital and Information Officer at University of Michigan Health-West
With a bachelor's in biomedical sciences from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, University of Michigan Health-West CDIO Joshua Wilda started his career wanting to be at the bedside, either as a physician or primary care PA.
“Through my studies in biomedical sciences, I learned there's another side of healthcare, especially my passion for leadership,” he says. “And so out of school, I ended up getting the opportunity to go and work for one of the top EMRs in the country, Epic And that really got me to understand from a project management perspective, from a healthcare operations perspective, what I'm able to do.”
Joining the organisation as a junior systems analyst, Wilda knew he wanted to make more of his career.
“I was one of the youngest members of the department, and my core focus was on implementation of the ambulatory EMR at the time,” he explains. “But I knew I wanted more out of my career. I knew I wanted to be a strategic thinker and be in a position where people trusted me in that instance.”
After working his way into supervisor management roles of teams, Wilda entered as a director, where he learned the technology side of the organisation.
“I wasn't a techie to begin with,” explains Wilda, “but I understand people and what drives them, and really partnered to learn technology in the purest form. And then I got the opportunity of being named the CIO of this organisation. And then very recently, within the last two years, they added the digital standpoint of IT to balance what the traditional CIO is doing versus what the CDIO has been.”
Through his career at the organisation, Wilda acquired a master's in public administration with a healthcare emphasis from Grand Valley State University. Then, around two years ago he was named Interim Chief Operating Officer.
“That gave me a really strong insight, not just into healthcare operations as a whole, but also gave me insight as I came back into the technology world of what are those areas of the organisation that often are forgotten, that often don't get the focus that we give the clinical units of the organization”
As a passionate leader, Wilda’s greatest qualities include his empathy and a strong sense of emotional intelligence.
“I really strive for that kind of relationship of understanding, of perspective, of the people around me. The growth that needs to happen in individuals, the partnership of people to try to help them become the best that they can be.
“Another of my strengths, and sometimes it gets me into trouble, but it's not being satisfied. I always like to pursue excellence or pursue perfection. One of my favourite quotes is from Vince Lombardi. He said that ‘perfection is unattainable, but if you're always striving to reach it, you will reach excellence’.
“So while I can be content in what we do, I always want to push the envelope and where we can take things. And then last but not least, and it's hard because we're talking about me! It's being humble. That humbleness is more so related to not just putting the spotlight on myself. This is all about the team.”
It’s important to know when to lead, and when to follow, Wilda says. “There's title leaders and there are those inherent leaders who are there to help drive direction, to help move things out of the way to help point and light the way for their staff,” he explains. “There are also times that you have to set ego aside and know how to follow, which can be difficult when you're looked at as an executive, or you're looked at as the decision maker.
“I've learned that over the years from multiple people that I've worked with to say, ‘Josh, you don't always have to be the one that knows it all. You don't always have to be the one to solve the problem. You have to use the team around you’.
“I don't think you can lead without knowing how to effectively follow someone and to do it with grace, humility, professionalism, and with energy.”
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