SVP & Regional COO
New York-Presbyterian Hospital
CEO, University of Virginia Medical Center
SVP, Hospital Operations, Duke University Health System
Chief of Staff, Office of the Chancellor for Health Affairs, Duke University Health System
Awardee, 2019 Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Women Leaders
Awardee, Becker’s Top 50 African American Health Care Executives
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science and African American Studies, Washington University in St. Louis
Master of Public Health, Yale University
Wife, Mother of 2
Pamela Sutton-Wallace is Senior Vice President and Regional Chief Operating Officer of New York-Presbyterian (NYP), ranked the number 4 health system in the country according to US News and World 2020-2021 report. Sutton-Wallace has a varied professional background in healthcare, with experience in pharmaceuticals, insurance, research, and hospital operations. In 2019 she was named to Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Women Leaders in Healthcare. For the last three years, 2018-20, she has been named to Becker’s Top 50 African American Health Care Executives to know. In her role at NYP, she leads strategic and operational initiatives to grow services in Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester County. While only three months into her tenure at NYP, coronavirus became a pandemic, New York City shut down, and hospitals around the country had to contend with unprecedented budget constraints and looming financial crises. The implications of mandated social distancing and rising rates of infection meant meeting new people, virtually as an enterprise-wide command center was implemented to quickly and nimbly make leadership decisions. Pam had to quickly learn the system and begin putting her leadership skills to work in short order. Sutton-Wallace shares with our Program Manager, Sharon Mwale, what she has learned from 25 years of experience being on the front lines during times of crisis.
How has your professional and/or academic experience influenced how you approach leadership?
I’m a leader who prefers to lead by collaboration and influence, and my academic background greatly influenced that approach. My background is fairly unique among health care executives in that many C-suite leaders are either clinicians who have grown up in the healthcare industry and promoted throughout the years or individuals with a strong finance and/or business background. My undergraduate training was in Political Science and African American studies and then I later went on to pursue a Ph.D. in political science. After finishing 3-years of graduate coursework, I realized I wasn’t passionate about an academic career of teaching and research, so I left the program just as I was starting my dissertation. Soon thereafter, I took a job in retail that, ironically, is how I got introduced to healthcare. A customer offered me a position at BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina (BCBSNC), which is where I gained significant insight into the challenges and complexities of healthcare. A mentor/manager at BCBSNC is who encouraged me to advance my education and pursue a master’s degree to prepare me for long-term success in the field. I chose the public health degree because it covered the full spectrum of healthcare including the business principles, population health science, epidemiology, statistical methodology etc. That training – and frankly difference in the academic background – heavily informs my worldview and has shaped my approach to leadership, which is largely based on interdisciplinary collaboration and consensus building. As a leader, in my opinion, it is essential to understand how people do their work by learning and appreciating the details. I find that decisions are much more efficacious and effective when I take the time to listen to a variety of stakeholders and integrate their concerns and thoughts into a solution. This is far more effective then dictating a mandate without engaging or listening to a diversity of opinions.
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