Ryan Smith - UW Bothell MBA Class of 2008

Ryan was interviewed by Dr. Sandeep Krishnamurthy, Dean, UW Bothell School of Business, in July 2010.

Ryan Smith - UW Bothell MBA Class of 2008

Sandeep: What is your current title? What are your current responsibilities?

Ryan: I am the Director of Application Services at Providence Health and Services. My team is made up of 54 healthcare IT professionals with experience ranging from nursing to technical engineering. We provide implementation and operational support for clinical and business systems covering four acute care hospitals and over 25 ancillary clinics including home care and hospice.

Sandeep: Talk to me about your journey and how you got here.

Ryan: I began my career at Providence ten years ago as a graveyard helpdesk analyst and have worn many different hats in the organization since. I did not start work at Providence with any intention to stay long term. The graveyard job allowed me to work on my passion during the day and focus on starting up my non-profit organization. It did not take very long for the mission of Providence to turn what was intended to be a short-term job into a calling. I truly feel fortunate to work in an organization where when I walk through the emergency departments or the nursing floors, I can see directly how my work can have such a tremendous impact on people’s lives. Being a leader in healthcare IT provides some challenges today that are unprecedented in our history. Today, we are solely focused on transforming our organization and the communities we serve towards a totally integrated electronic health record that will have a significant positive impact on patient safety and treatment outcomes. I feel blessed to part of such a strong team serving a strong mission.

Sandeep: What did you get most out of your MBA education?

Ryan: The classes and the cases were all valuable education, but what carried with me the most is developing a sense of comfort by being part of a team of folks who may be smarter than me, or have more to offer on a given topic. This has made me a more effective leader in my organization. Ultimately, the most valuable time I spent in pursuit of my MBA were those Saturdays and Sundays at the coffee shops with my cohorts discussing the cases. There was a lot of great dialogue.

Sandeep: What do you remember from your MBA courses?

Ryan: It is hard to recall specifics as the entire program ran at a pace that makes details a bit blurry. I do remember very clearly after the program was finished going through all my work from the two years. I uncovered the first case study write up I did and read through it. I was embarrassed at how poorly written it was and I was amazed that they allowed me to continue in the program after turning in such a poorly written case study. By the end of the program, it was very clear that the bar had been raised.

Sandeep: What is the biggest challenge you faced after graduation? How did you deal with it?

Ryan: Disseminating key concepts and practices learned in the MBA to my team and peers at work. The cohort learning style as well as a class room forum provides a much different atmosphere for leadership development than the day to day work place. I learned quickly not to assume that just because my leadership team has a lot of experience, that these concepts will come naturally to them. One way my leadership team gets outside of the Providence grind is by case method learning. Yes, once a month we read, analyze and discuss a different case study.

Sandeep: What advice do you have for future MBA students?

Ryan: First of all, be humble. If you come into the program open to learning not only from the professors but your cohort, you will really maximize your growth potential. The investment of time and money will be well worth it. Second, find something that will keep you grounded. If you are working and going through this program, you will be spending more time with your cohorts than your own family. Find that one thing that will keep you connected. You will get plenty of advice on how to do this such as dedicating a “Family Day” but only you will know what will truly work for you.