Here are some questions and answers featuring responses from Dr. Ackerman
Q. What is the most important lesson you have learned in your work life?
A. Of course, there are many important lessons in life, but one of the most useful that I have come to appreciate is the concept of fair balance. Whether it is treating a patient, or pitching a new business concept, it is natural to want to focus on the potential positive outcomes. However, it is important to share all relevant information, good and bad, so that informed decisions can be made. Fair balance is needed to help guide everyone towards reasonable expectations.
Q. What makes you unique in the marketplace?
A. While many people focus on the array of credentials that I possess, I consider my most unique traits to be relative to my perspective, as well as a lifelong love of learning. Perspective is important because medicine and business are replete with examples of doing things the same way because that is always how they have been done in the past. Sometimes, just stepping back and looking at the situation with a fresh perspective can yield innovative and creative options. That ongoing ability to adopt a fresh perspective is fueled by a lifelong love of learning. Combining the two effectively is not as commonplace as one might imagine.
Q. Why have you been successful in this profession?
A. I like to think that I have been successful in this profession for so long because I take the time up front to understand the situation before me, strategically contemplate how success can best be achieved, get buy-in from all involved, and build consensus on how that success will be measured. Whether it is managing health issues in a pet, or executing corporate strategy, success is only success if everyone involved recognizes it as success.
Q. Do you prefer working alone or with others?
A. In business and in medicine, delivering exceptional outcomes is a team sport – no doubt about that. I embrace the team aspects of such endeavors and truly value the diversity of contributions that come from collaboration. At the same time, in order to be of greatest benefit as a team member, I also value the opportunity to reflect on the big picture outside of the team dynamic, where I can take the time to think through the entire process. For me that’s important, because team activities are mainly about listening and exchanging ideas; it’s also important to build in time for reflection for team members who need it as part of their personal process.
Q. Do you prefer working under pressure or with adequate time to plan, organize, and execute?
A. There is no doubt that I prefer the time to plan, organize and execute and this is my natural approach to both medicine and business. However, adaptability is a virtue in both of these disciplines, and I have no problems rallying to address emergencies, changes of plans, or altered timelines. Change is a constant in business and medicine, so it is important to be able to adapt effectively to the situation at hand.
Q. Explain your role as a team leader, team member, and team player?
A. Teams can be incredibly productive, but many groups are collections of individuals working on tasks rather than true teams, and thus are not necessarily as productive as they might be. Regardless of my role on any particular team, it is important for me to know the desired outcomes, any instructions or limitations on how to get there, and the metrics that we will use to judge our collective success. When I am leading a team, I embrace situational leadership in that I can appreciate that members of the team have different perspectives on the task at hand, different strengths, different learning and sharing approaches, different preferences on being kept informed of progress, different views on personal accountability, and often very different directives and responsibilities outside of the team. As such, every team has its own challenges, so must be managed as the situation dictates to derive the best outcomes for the purpose specified.
Q. What has been your experience with downsizing, restructuring or expansion?
A. I’ve been involved with all of these at different points in my career, and it’s important to keep in perspective that all are just natural parts of business life cycles. The most critical thing to remember is that with challenges come opportunities, so my advice is to always consider win-win scenarios and not focus on the changes that may occur in any organization from time to time.