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7 Questions with Tiffany Olson
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7 Questions with Tiffany Olson
Name: Tiffany Olson
Current title: President, Nuclear & Precision Health Solutions
Current organisation: Cardinal Health
I am the president of Nuclear & Precision Health Solutions at Cardinal Health. Nuclear & Precision Health Solutions develops, manufactures, compounds, dispenses and delivers 12 million time-critical patient-specific doses annually to thousands of customers via a network of nuclear pharmacies and manufacturing sites that span the United States.
Prior to Cardinal Health, I spent a number of years in leading positions with other healthcare organizations, including NaviMed, Eli Lilly and Company and Roche Diagnostics.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
I have found that sometimes the larger your organization gets, the slower it can become. I think it is extremely important to try and not let bureaucracy get in the way of moving quickly towards your goals. There is always an opportunity to “look under the hood” and review processes, remove non-value-added steps, and cut through the clutter to get things done more quickly and efficiently. Don’t let the layers of an organization hinder you, but instead focus your energy on finding ways to streamline activities and gain efficiency.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
From the time I was a little girl I always knew I wanted to run a business, and after graduating from the University of Minnesota my career started in the healthcare industry. Over the years helping science gain a voice has been very important to me. Many years of my career were with Roche Diagnostics where I held multiple roles in the U.S. and in Europe, eventually leading to becoming President and CEO of Roche Diagnostic Corporation.
I spent time at Eli Lilly and Company leading an effort to formulate their strategy with companion diagnostics and had other opportunities that focused on personalizing medicine through innovative diagnostics. My current role is President of Cardinal Health Nuclear & Precision Health Solutions. Our team develops, manufactures, compounds, dispenses and delivers over 12 million time-critical patient-specific doses annually to thousands of customers via a network of nuclear pharmacies and manufacturing sites that span the United States.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Like everyone else, my work days are quite a bit different now than they were just over a year ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life for all of us. That being said, I used to spend a lot of my time traveling – to customer or supplier meetings or visiting our employees at various sites across the United States. These days, I start my day with a workout to try and make sure I am taking care of myself. The idea of “self-care” has really crystallized for me this past year. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others. It’s like they say on airplanes – put your own mask on before assisting others.
After my workout, I spend most of my days on Zoom calls. When those wrap up, I get to enjoy dinner with my family – something I didn’t get to do nearly as often pre-COVID. I really relish this time with them as I know it is fleeting and someday we will be back to a new state of “normal” and I will resume traveling. But for now, I focus on those parts of my life (working out, dinner with my family, talking to my friends) that help to recharge me for everything else in my life. It’s not always easy to carve out this time – and some days I am better at it than others – but the important thing is that I keep working to find that balance.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
My leadership philosophy can be summed up in three words – “Listen, Learn, Lead.”
First, you must be an active listener – to employees at every level in the organization, peers, and industry experts. Hear what is in the quiet and make sure you know what is going on in the organization and where there may be chokepoints. You have to be willing to meet with employees and ask how we can collectively improve. This takes trust from both parties and humility from the leader.
Leaders do not always have the answers but incorporating ideas and information from the full team creates the best solutions, and ultimately, the best outcomes. Only after listening and learning can you then lead your team.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
For me, it is “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Even though this book came out two decades ago, it still resonates with me to this day.
One piece in particular that stood out is the flywheel effect. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to get the flywheel moving in a positive direction – as no single push makes the difference. Instead, it is a culmination of a lot of little efforts that get it to move. And you must have the right people in place for it to really take hold and see the huge gains that are possible.
A good example of this is that several years ago, our customers were telling us that we were really no different than our competitors, that there was nothing that differentiated us from all the other nuclear providers in the market. We came together as a team, listened to their feedback and started to take steps to improve our products, services and structure. And it paid off. We saw huge gains in customer loyalty and we did it all by taking that first step together as a team, then building upon it.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Mentoring is a great way to build leadership skills in an organization. Finding others – either within your team or outside of it – to connect with and share mutual leanings and wisdom is incredibly important. When you have someone you can relate to on a personal level, it helps create opportunities and new ways of thinking.
Another thing that I try to do is give people opportunities to shine. For example, asking someone to take on a stretch assignment outside of his/her normal job, or maybe it is adding responsibilities to someone’s current role. Doing this while then providing coaching along the way gives the individual an opportunity to really show what he/she can do, and this will benefit not only the individual but the organization.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
In our Nuclear & Precision Health Solutions business, we have a “ONE TEAM” culture that can help us overcome some unique challenges. When we heard customer feedback about our lack of differentiation in the market, we worked together as a team to make the needed changes for our business. We created new ways of working – within our team and with our customers – that resulted in a Six Sigma-level of accuracy and 99.6 percent on-time delivery. We developed new innovative products and services that differentiated us in the market. These improvements, along with several others, garnered a recent Customer Loyalty Index score of 87 out of 100 versus 67 for our competitors. It is our “ONE TEAM” philosophy that made that possible: Every single person on the team contributes to our success.