Managing Multiple Life Transitions and Finding the Best Circumstance to Advance Growth

Brief Background

Board Certified, Healthcare Management

Fellow | Carol Emmott Fellowship

Fellow | America College of Healthcare Executives

2016 Connecticut Association of Healthcare Executives Leadership Award

2015 & 2018 Connecticut NAACP’s 100 Most Influential Blacks

Founding Member | National Association of Health Services Executives Connecticut Chapter

Master of Public Health | Yale University

Gina Calder is the youngest and first black woman to be named Vice President at Bridgeport Hospital and the youngest sitting executive in the Yale New Haven Health System. Having joined the organization as an Administrative Fellow in 2009, she has climbed the ranks becoming Vice President of Ambulatory Services at Bridgeport Hospital in 2016 and Administrator, Milford Campus, Yale New Haven Health System most recently. Gina is passionate about ensuring access to high value care and building long term relationships with patients and partners as she grows the care footprint. She is also committed to mentoring and developing diverse leaders and speaks nationally on service line accomplishments and building inclusive leadership teams. As a current healthcare executive and leader, Calder has navigated the challenges of managing organizational growth and leading people on her team through several transitions. She shares with Program Manager, Sharon Mwale, her advice on managing change with planning and thoughtful consideration of all aspects of life.

What makes a good leader? Is a leader born or can he/she be shaped?
Leaders are both born and shaped. There are those who have a natural knack, passion and humility to lead, but even they still need shaping. Then there are others who at first blush, you wouldn’t peg them as leaders, but with exposure and attentive training and development, can become leaders. However, regardless of the individual’s proclivity, the common thread and key quality of great leaders is humility. Being humble allows you to recognize your vulnerabilities and weaknesses and continuously push yourself and inspire others to grow and advance as well. You can’t expect to move upward without a great team supporting you and you need to know how to translate your self-drive to pull others up along with you and make each transition upward or laterally smoother.

What challenges have you experienced and have been defining moments in your career? Looking back, is there anything you change or advise your younger self to do differently?
A piece of advice to a younger me is to be patient with yourself going and growing through challenging experiences. It’s important, as a leader, to immerse yourself in places and spaces that you are less than comfortable, but along the way down turns are part of the cycle, and I had to learn to endure those periods. No matter how seasoned I thought I was, some learnings come only with time. My first crisis as VP showed me the dynamic shift of responsibility I had within the organization. I witnessed career administrators unravel because I was a peer and confidant, whereas in the past, I would not have been privy to their raw response. My role also transitioned from dealing with just my team to also being responsible for creating and guiding a team of executives to a resolution first, before my team.

What is your advice to women and what actionable steps can they take as aspiring leaders and/or entrepreneurs in the health & tech industries?
Put time and effort toward developing your unique support structures. Meaning, don’t let the aspects of your life that help you stay balanced and endure transitions or downturns, falter. If that is friends and family, invest in ways to stay connected and maintain those relationships. If it’s sleep, make sure you protect your time to get the appropriate amount of rest every day. If it’s exercise and eating right, same thing. You want to be at the top of your game, and you will lean on those support structures to get through transitions, crises and challenges. Otherwise you will become frayed and the people around you will recognize that quickly, even before you do. As a black woman, I know people are watching me, many cheering me on but also some expecting me to fail or wanting me to fail. Your personal support structures will protect you and help you get back up when you do fall.

Looking at your career choices and academic pursuits, have you considered becoming an entrepreneur as part of your plan?
Over the years, I’ve noticed that I’m much more of an entrepreneur at heart than I realized. There are systemic issues and conscious and unconscious biases that make advancement and growth for persons of color difficult in corporate structures not designed for our success. Lack of inclusion has created opportunities for solutions to be forged and launched in more entrepreneurial spaces. Part of me recognizes that my career and experiences thus far are preparing me to be catapulted into something completely different. Who knows! I’m surrounded by entrepreneurs in my home life and I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up on that path in the future. I do see that it’s an increasing challenge for corporate environments to compete with more entrepreneurial ventures in recruiting and retaining the best talent. Succession planning will be challenging, at best, as there may be fewer young and diverse leaders in the pipeline to advance into positions that will become vacant as people retire. Being proactive and innovative both as organizations and leaders and inspiring leaders will be key.

Lecky’s Final Thoughts

Career choices are tricky but what oftentimes is trickier is the speed with which we accelerate in our careers. When acceleration doesn’t seem fast enough, we don’t feel good enough; when acceleration is quick paced, and we make significant strides we often don’t celebrate our accomplishments. We set out to do the next big thing. As our WCE shares, ‘be patient.’ Celebrate the wins and embrace the perceived losses. Growth comes from both experiences.

If you would like to recommend a female entrepreneur in healthcare technology to be featured, we encourage you to contact us.

Contact information:
Sharon Mwale       Program Manager        [email protected]