What did you do to prepare yourself for the transition from corporate COO to CEO of the new pediatrics unit?
Mark Webb: I’ve been with University Health System [UHS] since 2008, so the change has really been more about my specific focus. Although my background is not in pediatrics, I am surrounded by a team of true pediatric experts. So, while I’ll continue learning more about the nuances of pediatrics, my key responsibilities are to provide a vision and strategy that help us achieve our growth and development goals and provide the highest level of quality care to our patients.
If you compare the work I do here with the responsibilities I had when I was director of the San Antonio Airport, there are actually a lot of similarities. Both are public entities that operate around the clock where safety and constant attention to detail are essential. So, from a leadership and operations standpoint, I felt that I was prepared to take on the new CEO responsibilities.
What are the biggest challenges to achieving the goals of the pediatric facility?
MW: As part of our partnership with the University of Texas Health Science Center to provide the most advanced children’s care in south Texas, our ultimate goal is to build a freestanding pediatric hospital. That will also help us complete our continuum of care. But to do that, we have to grow our volumes, service lines, and referral base. The real challenge is to accomplish all of that at a level that’s on par with our existing standards. [UHS has been consistently rated as a Best Hospital by U.S. News & World Report, as well as being ranked sixth in Texas.] I don’t want anyone to have to go to outside the city for high-quality, sophisticated pediatric care.
Does being such a high-profile, highly ranked institution make your job more difficult than if expectations were lower?
MW: No, but not for the reasons you might think. Because of our profile and reputation, as well as the high quality of care we provide, everyone here is extraordinarily smart and dedicated. Living up to those standards is a huge motivating factor for me. Quite honestly, I don’t want to let them down. When I first came here to work on the Sky Tower project, the fact that so many people were counting on me fueled the drive and passion to make it exceed everyone’s expectations. We ended up being under budget, on time, and were able to provide more patient rooms and operating rooms than were in the original plan.
In light of the large-scale projects that you tend to work on, do you have a particular management philosophy?
MW: Besides making sure I surround myself with people who are smarter than me, I focus on communicating openly and honestly with everyone involved and delivering on what I’ve promised. That goes a long way toward earning and keeping everyone’s trust, which is critically important.
I also listen very carefully, especially when there are issues where different stakeholders don’t see eye to eye. In those situations, I get everyone in the same room at the same time so I can hear both sides and then try to facilitate some type of collaborative reconciliation. What I often discover is that the real issues aren’t what we came in to discuss but other matters that are lurking just below the surface. Things aren’t always what they seem.
Do you have any personal goals or feelings about being the new pediatrics CEO?
MW: I am proud to be a public servant, having started my career 20 years ago with the City of San Antonio. At University Health System, I’m part of an organization that’s serving the community, quite literally, in life-and-death situations on a daily basis. In addition to that, my three boys are fifth-generation San Antonians. This job, the hospital, and the care we provide all give me opportunities to leave them a legacy of commitment and dedication that I hope they’ll be proud of. The fact that I love the work I do and the people I work with is an added bonus. And I get to contribute to caring for members of the community when they’re most fearful, the most in need, and at their most vulnerable. Short of following in my grandfather’s and uncle’s footsteps, who were both Baptist ministers, I don’t know that there’s a higher calling than that.
Photos courtesy of Mark Greenberg Photos