Jennifer Quaglietta has led countless initiatives that have a positive impact on the health of Canadians. As Vice President, Performance Excellence and Information Services at Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada (HIROC), she applies her expertise as a biomedical and industrial engineer to building relationships that will support the healthcare sector for generations to come.
“I’m a big believer in a learning healthcare system model that involves collaborating with many different disciplines to effect change,” she says, speaking with ITWC CIO Jim Love on Leadership in the Digital Enterprise, an ITWC podcast series focused on real discussions of leadership in this new digital era. “Learning can never stop for leaders who are committed to their careers.”
Better Patient Outcomes
Quaglietta’s own learning began with a co-op in a pharmaceutical company. The health sector journey continued with positions at Cancer care Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, North York General Hospital, and University of Toronto’s Centre for Healthcare Engineering. The common theme in organizations ranging from the public sector and pharma to academia and consulting was delivering transformative strategies that improve patient outcomes and the quality of care.
A Pivotal Event
When asked about a time in her life that defines her, Quaglietta shares a childhood ambition to become a doctor and subsequent failure to make the cut for medical school. “I still carry that moment of failure with me,” she says. “I think it demonstrated for me that health care is not just about being a clinician. It is the entirety of the sector working together – the government, consultants, mechanics, and construction workers – that really defines a patient’s journey.”
Asked what leadership means to her, Quaglietta describes leadership as the ability to be vulnerable and accountable at the same time. “Leadership comes with not necessarily having all the answers but really having the questions and being resourceful,” she says. “I think of myself as a servant leader – someone who is striving to build leadership capacity in their people, someone who is always available and who genuinely cares about their people.”
Quaglietta’s thoughts about the meaning of leadership also creep into a discussion with Love about the big lessons learned on her professional journey. “Leadership is more about ensuring everyone has a shared purpose in their work and understands why they do what they do,” she explains. “It’s part of a bigger picture of how we contribute to culture, how we build camaraderie among teams, and how it is more about listening than it is about talking. It’s also about bringing diversity and curiosity to the table and being available.”
The Digital Advantage
On the subject of how the digital age has changed leadership, Quaglietta points to the many new opportunities for the lifelong learning she advocates. “Digital has provided a landscape of being able to learn from so many more people than you would have without it,” she says. “I think it has made it more efficient and easier to grow into that and learn more and be curious.”
Recently, Quaglietta was honoured to receive this year’s Robert Zed Young Health Leader Award, a tribute presented annually to a Canadian healthcare leader who has demonstrated leadership in the effectiveness and sustainability of Canada’s health system. There have been other recent awards as well, including a 2021 tribute from IT World Canada and the CIO Association of Canada as CIO of the Year (Not for Profit).
“The best part is that I have this team that keeps nominating me for all of these awards,” says Quaglietta. “When the nominations come from the people who you work with, they are that much more meaningful.”