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FaithSearch Partner’s Senior Vice President, Ivan Bartolome, was recently featured in American College of Health Executive’s Asian Healthcare Leader Forum. Read the question and answer article written by ACHE below to find out more about Bartolome’s journey in the healthcare industry.  

Q. Briefly describe your career journey from earning your master’s in health services administration from the University of Kansas to becoming a senior vice president at FaithSearch Partners and a vice president at HealthSearch Partners?

A. I took a significant step forward professionally after I completed my master’s degree at KU and when I began my first executive leadership role, leading a service line at a 500-bed hospital. My operations and strategic work in cardiovascular services paved the way for me to more clearly understand hospital facility leadership, capital/construction improvements, operational metrics, quality measures and financial controls. This experience exposed me to the impactful outcomes for patients, physicians, employees and senior leadership.

That operational and strategic experience prepared me for the jump to the executive search firm field. My experience in hospital operations and physician practice issues gave me a strong platform to be effective in executive search for the past 10 years. What I have learned is that even if I didn’t intentionally prepare for a career in executive search, all of my professional experiences have created an underlying knowledge that informs me about my clients’ needs and helps me anticipate their needs and understand their perspectives.

Q. From your perspective as an executive search firm senior leader, what are one or two key points AHLF members should remember when considering a position or career change?

A. I think it’s important to understand if that next great job for you is going to be a solid cultural fit for you and the organization. To me, it’s not enough that the job is in the right city or in an organization with name recognition. I think it is more important for us as leaders to know we will have a tangible opportunity to be impactful to patients, physicians, staff and the whole organization.

Will you be able to improve the health of the community you are serving through your role? Will you be able to be a transformational leader within that organization? Do your values match with the mission, vision and values of the organization you are joining? If you can say “yes” to all of these things, then making a move could make sense. If your answer is “no” to any of those questions, perhaps you should pause. A move to a better-paying job is nice. But I think each of us desires something more. Many of us want to lead in an organization that makes the healthcare for patients better and improves the health of the community.

Q. In what ways does your firm help to promote diversity and inclusion in healthcare executive positions?

A. Personally, this is important in every project I touch. Historically, approximately two-thirds of our successful candidates have been women and/or minorities. But it still goes beyond that. If I am working on a nursing project, I try to make sure we are inclusive of nurse leaders who are men. When possible, we try to research candidates who are from specific cultural backgrounds who might reflect the community the organization is serving. I have even placed a white CEO in a predominantly black organization (Jamaica). It’s not just about the numbers. It’s about challenging yourself and the organization to think beyond what has been normal so our organizations become more inclusive.

Q. Looking back from your current vantage point as an accomplished healthcare executive, what advice would you give yourself as an early careerist?

A. I wish I could tell my younger self to be more aggressive about accepting larger responsibility in the organizations I served. I think I waited too long to be invited to lead based on my track record and results. I could have just stepped through those doors when they immediately became available. Learning how to release your natural instincts to lead can be advantageous to yourself and your organization.

A clinical nurse leader on my team told me 12 years ago that I needed to look our senior leaders straight in the eye when I was giving reports and presentations and answering operational questions. Since I am Asian, I tend to look down while speaking as a matter of respect. In our American culture, that could be seen as being indecisive, unsure or lacking confidence. Immediately after I changed my approach, I saw results. Body language matters in the C-suite.

Q. Why did you join the Asian Healthcare Leaders Forum?

A. Frankly, I thought being connected to Asian leaders could help me place them in some of the best hospitals in America. I thought I could single-handedly fix the disparity that exists in American hospital board rooms when it comes to being inclusive of Asian leaders. We have a reputation for being smart. So why aren’t there more of us in hospital board rooms? I’ll spend the next 25 years trying to solve that within my executive search practice.

This article is available on the ACHE website with membership login.

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