Coaching, Confidence and Communication: Hana Pika on succeeding and helping others

This month, WCT spoke with Hana Pika, an executive consultant with a focus on transformational projects, modernization of IT infrastructure and Mergers & Acquisitions. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, she was the CIO and VP Information Technology at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Canada’s foremost heart health center dedicated to treating and preventing heart disease. We talked with her about the lack of diversity in IT, what her typical day in IT looks like, and her role in WCT’s National Mentorship Program!

WCT: Can you share a little bit about your work at as the Chief Information Officer at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute? What did a typical day look like for you?

Hana Pika: The last several years at the Heart Institute were incredibly exciting!  We ran two enormous transformational projects in parallel while continuing to provide great care to our patients. 

First, we built a new addition that doubled our clinical space and housed the latest high tech operating rooms, cathertization labs and electrophysiology labs to provide leading edge cardiac procedures.  This allowed the Heart Institute to serve even more patients in the region.  The expansion required us to modernize all of our IT infrastructure so that we could expand to the new areas.  In less than five years, we updated all our networks, our telephony systems, our data centers and our PCs.

In addition, we also digitalized our patient care which was mostly based on paper documents with an end-to-end integrated Hospital Information System named Epic.  Epic manages all aspects of patient care and includes more than 25 modules – everything from registration and scheduling through pharmacy and medical procedures to remote care and a patient portal.  We did this together with 4 other hospitals in the Ottawa region so that patients would be able to share their information with their care teams regardless of which site they received care at.

Running both projects at once meant that I had to really rely on my teams and my managers.  My typical day would consist of meeting with key stakeholders to discuss their needs and concerns, meeting with my managers to support and provide direction, dealing with critical issues that arose and ensuring that the projects were able to move ahead as planned.

WCT: What made you want to become a mentor with WCT? What do you look for in a mentor/mentee relationship?

HP: I love working with all kinds of different people and sharing my knowledge and experience and also learning from theirs.  In my career, the most satisfying moments have come from seeing my staff succeed and achieve their goals; if I can play even a small part in helping someone realize their goals then that is very exciting for me!

I look for a mentee that is interested and motivated in reaching their goals.  I also look for someone who is engaged, listening and trying out ideas but also takes responsibility for their own journey and brings their ideas and energy to the table. 

I have just been matched with someone who has all of this and I am thrilled to be working with her!

WCT: Do you notice a lack of diversity in your field? How do you think we can encourage more women to pursue business and leadership careers?

HP: I am sometimes discouraged by the lack of women that I see in Information Technology.  I believe that we do a poor job of communicating all of the opportunities that are available so young women may not be drawn to the one or two better known roles that they are aware of. 

I have a few success stories where we were able to hire young women who had very strong communication and organizational skills but no technology background, and we were able to coach them into various IT roles where they excelled. 

There are also some great school programs and summer camps to encourage youth and young women particularly in STEM and I think that is a great start

WCT: If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

HP: I would tell myself to be louder and more confident.  I think that many women have a more quiet and subtle communication style which in a male-dominated field can make them appear less confident or capable.  One of my professional challenges has been to find a style that lets me be heard but that still feels authentic to me.

WCT: What is a quote you live by?

HP: I love this quote by Hunter S. Thompson:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”

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