In the 1995 film Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage stars as Ben Sanderson, a Hollywood screenwriter who’s lost everything and moves to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. I’m not going to set out to drink myself to death because John is leaving Partners, but as one of my colleagues said, “It’s a big deal, John. This marks the end of an era.”
I knew that John would leave someday, I just didn’t think someday would arrive so soon. And, as everyone now knows, our Deputy CIO Mary Finlay had plans to become a Professor at Simmons College at the end of this year. John and Mary have been affectionately been referred to as the Dad and Mom of our department. They are extremely well-liked and respected around Partners – they will be deeply missed.
John has been with our organization for 22 years and is the only CIO Partners has ever had. He has seen us through the merging of the Mass General and Brigham & Women’s IS departments as well as expansion to the community hospitals. John’s leadership in healthcare IT innovation is well known.
Many years ago during my healthcare MBA program, I read articles and excerpts that John published. At that point, my wife wanted to locate our family on the west coast, so I did lots of interviewing in California. I learned just how well-respected John and the Partners IS organization were as I spoke with CIOs out there. To my wife’s lament, I was pleased that California didn’t work out so I could join Partners. And, since I’m a New England native, I’m quite happy that our kids have grown up as Red Sox fans!
Back in those days when Partners IS was much smaller, John and Mary used to invite 25 staff members each month to have dinner and casual conversation with them at the Partners headquarters on the 11th floor of the Prudential Center in Boston. In the month I was invited, 13 people RSVP’d and six showed up for a very small dinner with John. I was looking for a mentor and though I never thought John would take me on, I figured I’d ask him who he thought might be good. On the way out I posed the question, to which he replied, “I’d be glad to do that for you Scott.” Still not convinced he was serious, I went back to my boss at the hospital and told him the story. He assured me that if that’s what John said, it was true.
I made that first appointment with John, which began a relationship where we have met briefly, but several times a year over the past 12 years. John is a great listener and he has gently given direction about where to get experiences and how to contribute through our professional societies, writing and speaking. John is committed to making contributions to others and to our industry. A little effort by him goes a long way for people like me.
During the past decade, I’ve been fortunate to have several growth opportunities within Partners. I led the Dana-Farber/Partners CancerCare strategic IT initiative, a carefully constructed collaborative between Dana-Farber, Brigham and Women’s and Mass General. John brought his calm and collaborative demeanor to executive-level meetings that helped hold the program together.
Later, I applied to be the CIO at North Shore Medical Center, one of the Partners affiliates. The other finalist was a Corporate Manager from Mass General whom I had worked with and respected a lot. John is very good at delivering news, whether good or bad. One day in October 2003 John called and said, “Not this time Mr. MacLean, but you’ll get another shot, I’m sure.” That direct delivery of bad news followed by an encouraging word was about the best style I can think of.
In the fall of 2006, after gaining more experience, the phone call went much better. “Mr. MacLean, I’m very pleased to say that the folks at Newton-Wellesley Hospital have selected you as their next CIO. Very nicely done.”
I’ve grown even more since joining the Partners Corporate IS Director group and have been fortunate to establish good credibility at Newton-Wellesley. While it’s sad for us that John and Mary are both leaving, they have assembled a fabulously strong leadership team across hospital and functional teams.
Leaving Las Vegas is tragic and dysfunctional. Since the announcement, people both inside and outside of Partners have asked me how we will fare without John Glaser. Fortunately for us, John has fostered an innovative and functional multi-disciplinary organization that will thrive for years to come. Another colleague commented that while it’s the “end of an era,” it’s also an opportunity for new leadership. Our team will pull together in the interim and await our new CIO.
I’ve tried very hard to thank John for his guidance and mentoring over the years, but he just says, “You did the work. It made me look good. It was my pleasure.” Well John, you did a great job of leadership. Thank you. We look forward to your leadership on the vendor side.