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The patient-centred health-care leader

Tara O’Reilly, BComm 04, MBA 11
November 6, 2023
By Samantha Rideout, GrDip 10

A woman with blonde hair is smiling, wearing a navy blue blazer with white shirt underneath. Behind her is a plant and a large window.

During her 10 years with Roche Diagnostics Canada — a division of one of the world’s largest health-care companies — Tara O’Reilly hasn’t shied away from new responsibilities. Having progressed through marketing and sales roles, she currently serves as the division’s executive director of commercial operations, interim president and general manager. Through it all, she’s been driven by her passion for improving patient care.

Roche Diagnostics develops products such as medical tests, lab equipment and software with the goal of improving patients’ experiences and medical outcomes. Its innovations might make a diagnosis faster, more convenient or more reliable, for example.

“In the health-care industry, we have a responsibility to keep the patient at the centre of all we do,” says O’Reilly. “It keeps our feet on the ground and our eyes on the impact we’re trying to have.”

On the value of varied perspectives

“My time at Concordia taught me to appreciate working with people from diverse backgrounds with different opinions and interests. You don’t want to surround yourself with people who all think the same things as you. You want to create psychological safety so that you can engage in ‘intellectual friction,’ which is different from personal friction because it’s about challenging biases and ideas rather than people themselves.”

Bridging health-care gaps

“Over the last few years, there’s been a human resources crisis in health care. Seventy per cent of clinical decision-making comes from a lab result, so when there’s a nationwide shortage of qualified lab techs, that has a huge impact. Many of our customers are looking to automate routine tasks through robotics and IT, which frees up technicians to focus on the activities where you really need their expertise.”

Leadership style

“I believe you can’t be an effective leader if you don’t connect with the people on your team and truly care for them by doing what is in their best interest. And you need to consider the whole person: mind, heart and body.

“As you move into more senior roles, people are less likely to express an opinion that’s contrary to yours. It’s important to stay humble so they can feel comfortable telling you what you need to hear.”

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