Tuesday , June 15 2021

Hospital CEO Aaron Chang on his leadership influences

MH: Now that you’ve been in the field and you’re a CEO, is there anything that you wish you would have learned in health administration school that you didn’t?

Chang: A lot of our work in the healthcare industry, and especially now in the CEO role, is making sure we set the right infrastructure, inspire folks and support our individuals. Communication is a big part of that. And I think I’ve naturally picked up those skills through work and through jobs. But there could be more in school about the basics: influencing, how to manage difficult conversations, how to inspire people, how to share your experiences that may be valuable for others to learn. That would have been terrific to know on the front end.

MH: In terms of your own career, did you get any important advice or guidance from someone that has proved key so far?

Chang: Yes. I had a boss early, early on, who said to me, “You know, in this line of work, you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” He told me that on several occasions, and there was one time that was very pivotal for me, because it was a point in my career where I needed to step out of my normal routine. I needed to face some adversity and grow and gain those skills to advance professionally. Healthcare is changing so rapidly. Obviously we’re in the thick of things with the pandemic and everything else. If you build that tolerance and you have that attitude where you can take on all and be nimble, adaptable, I think that’s a valuable trait.

MH: Is there anybody that you have as a role model, excluding people you know personally?

Chang: This is a hard one because I have so many, but if I were to narrow it to two individuals who have inspired me, it’d probably be Wynton Marsalis and John Wooden. Growing up, I played the trumpet, and that’s how I learned of Wynton Marsalis. I admired him as a jazz musician because boy, can he make the notes come alive. But what was more amazing was how he left his unique signature on everything he played. I looked up to him a lot, and I think he gave me the confidence to try to do that in and out of music. John Wooden, he was just a great philosopher who happened to be a successful basketball coach. I think he did wonders in terms of building a winning culture at UCLA. But he helped people succeed on and off that court, and I think that was very important to him. And I would say I share that same passion, so in terms of working with the folks on my team, I hope to have that kind of impact.

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