Lisa McVey is a multi-tasking CIO
at McKesson Corp
"Everything we do is aimed at reducing the cost of operations, improving service levels and maintaining an acceptable risk profile," she says
'I think my team would agree that I'm an empathetic leader," declares Lisa McVey, a CIO at McKesson Technology Solutions (MTS, Alpharetta, GA). "They know I care about them."
McKesson Corp (San Francisco, CA) is a healthcare services and information technology company. McVey is CIO for three of its business units: McKesson Provider Technologies (MPT), Resource Management Solutions, and Physician Practice Solutions. "A lot of McKesson's business growth has come as the result of acquisitions," McVey explains. "Because of that we have ten business unit CIOs, but I'm the only McKesson CIO with multiple units."
A $120 million budget
McVey has overall responsibility for IT leadership for MPT, the largest division of MTS. Her area represents a budget of $120 million. She directs and manages computing and IT strategic plans, policies, programs and schedules for business and finance data processing, computer services, network communications and management information services, and she's also MTS IT liaison for McKesson corporate IT. "One of my greatest accomplishments has been participating in the reinvention of McKesson's IT units," McVey reports. "We merged three organizations to provide an IT operation that supports McKesson's future IT needs, reduces operational costs and drives results by aligning along functional lines.
"We need to make it easier for our customers to engage with us by coming up with a single end-to-end process, so we're re-engineering every single way our customers interact with McKesson."
"What can I do to help?"
She routinely asks herself, "What can I do to help our business achieve our customers' goals as well as our own growth and revenue? Everything we do is aimed at reducing the cost of operations, improving service levels, aligning with the needs of our businesses and maintaining an acceptable risk profile."
McVey's direct reports now include team members responsible for the data governance and intelligence group, external customer-portal management people, and senior leaders responsible for managing strategic initiatives.
"Calm and balance are my mantras," she says. "I can interact and have relationships with all types of people and styles. I tell my team that you can have it all, but you may not necessarily get it in the way or in the timeframe you want!
"Day to day, at home or at work, there's always change and always the potential for differences of opinion and conflict. When things get crazy I have a tendency to become extremely calm."
Dealing with things
"I've already dealt with things in my life that people my age are just beginning to deal with," she confides. She has overcome considerable personal setbacks, including the loss of her husband to cancer. "I've grown through all these experiences and it has really created who I am as a person, as well as my ability to be that empathetic leader."
McVey has used her personal experiences with the healthcare system to gain insight into McKesson's vision and help move it forward. "We are trying to help our customers deliver higher quality healthcare, whether they're hospitals, physicians, pharmacies, home care, payers or whatever," she says.
"McKesson has an incredible portfolio to help every aspect of healthcare. When I was working through all this with my husband the purpose of what we're trying to drive became very clear to me. It taught me what we're trying to get the hospitals and the physicians to adopt, and gave me an additional, personal dedication to what McKesson is trying to do. Having everything in one place is incredibly important."
Mentoring and coaching are a large part of McVey's life. "I'm not afraid to share what I've learned from my experiences along the way. I get a lot out of mentoring, maybe more than my mentees do," she says with a smile.
The company has sent McVey through its leadership training program. "Until recently I was the only woman in our leadership council. My boss says I'm a rare female in a male-dominated field."
Women in Technology (WIT), a partner with the Technology Association of Georgia (tagonline.org) asked her to participate in its executive coaching program. McVey was recognized by WIT as a 2010 Woman of the Year in Technology, an honor that acknowledges female leaders in business, visionaries in technology and women who have positively impacted Georgia's technology community.
A champion of women's causes, she started the Georgia chapter of McKesson's women's employee resource group and is currently its Georgia executive sponsor. She's also very much involved in promoting STEM career initiatives like WIT's Girls Get IT. "Activities like this give them a way to realize that math and science are pretty important topics," she says. "These girls are very technology advanced; they're clear on where they want to go and more driven."
Being a rare top leader in a male-dominated industry doesn't faze McVey a bit. "I've never felt I had anything to overcome being a woman," she says. "It's why I'm so dedicated to any kind of diversity initiative. The real value of getting a diverse group together is all our life experiences. What are the highs and lows that make people what they are?"
"When I mentor women, I try to make them understand that when we're in a meeting with a lot of men we have to communicate a little differently. Women definitely think differently from men and we make decisions differently."
McVey was born and raised in Akron, OH, "the rubber capital of the world at the time," she says. Her father was a senior VP with B.F. Goodrich; her mother had children very early and never worked outside the home, but volunteered her entire life. McVey calls her mom "my greatest mentor."
McVey studied chemistry and biology at Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, PA). She left school not long before graduation and never did get a degree; instead she returned to Akron for a job with Prudential Insurance as a corporate trainer for group health claims and Medicare processes.
"It was at Prudential that I realized I could have an influence in healthcare without actually being a practitioner," she says.
When Prudential closed its Georgia office McVey joined a software company, medical information systems firm HBO & Co, that was later acquired by McKesson. In 1994 she joined McKesson as a senior project manager.
"My first job here was to manage hospital beta customers, bridging the gap between them and our R&D department. I spent a lot of time visiting different hospitals and got real hands-on experience. I loved it!"
Seventeen years later McVey is still loving it. "I like to fix problems and start new things," she says. "I'm all about, 'Where does the company need me next?' I'll always be willing to look at that."
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