News & Events

Guest Speaker Series: Jennifer Duff on Leadership in Healthcare

March 26, 2021
UBC MEL MHLP - Guest Speaker 2021 - Jenn

On March 16, Jenn Duff, Regional Director for the Maternal Child Program at Vancouver Coastal Health and Adjunct Professor for the School of Population & Public Health at UBC, hosted an informative seminar for UBC Master of Health Leadership & Policy (MHLP) students on the topic of leadership within the health care industry.

Leading positive change in health care

Duff is an experienced health care leader in British Columbia, with more than 20 years of experience demonstrating clinical and professional knowledge, including expertise in management, clinical operations, evaluation, performance improvement, change management and transformation, project management, and strategy. She has been a transformative leader in organizations that span across acute and community health, local and provincial governments, and community not-for-profits in the public sector.

Duff holds an Executive Master of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University including the completion of the Americas MBA for Executives, as well as Master of Health Administration and Bachelor of Science in Nursing obtained from UBC. Furthermore, she is a Business in Vancouver Top 40 under 40 alumni (2011) and has been awarded the National Robert Zed Young Leader Award by the Canadian College of Health Leaders.

With extensive experience heading large teams and managing large budgets, and a diverse range of leadership roles spanning different sectors, Duff has incredibly valuable teachings to share with the next generation of leaders in the Canadian health care industry.

In pursuit of leadership excellence

During her presentation, Duff focused on self-reflection and knowing yourself as a leader. She highlighted that, in order to consistently perform at a high level and pursue continuous growth, leaders should train in a systematic, multi-level way, similar to a world-class athlete. She also noted how, increasingly, health care leaders are required to work in a very complex, and rapidly changing environment.

What does it mean to be a healthcare leader?

Duff shared a powerful message of what it means to be a health care leader and how to build consensus, and some additional words of encouragement with the MHLP students.

A health care leader is someone who is prepared to:
  • Effectively navigate provincial, regional, and multi-site health networks.
  • Adapt to thrive in complex and evolving systems.
  • Create cooperation and consensus among interdependent constituencies, many of which have broad social and political influence.
When attempting to build consensus among diverse constituencies:
  • Accept that you, individually, will never have the right answer, so your goal should be to facilitate relationship building for productive collaboration.
  • Recognize that building these relationships takes time and energy, as you will have to connect with multiple key stakeholders and develop your credibility with them. This is necessary to your success and is an unavoidable step towards creating strong networks.
  • Understand that your credibility as a leader is directly linked to this relationship-building process, so you must remain transparent, honest, and humble. If you practice professionalism, your supporters will respect your process.
Near the close of the seminar, Duff shared some additional words of encouragement for our MHLP cohort, as they prepare to move into roles of leadership:
  • Discomfort is natural. If you always feel comfortable within your role as a leader, then you are not innovating and advancing.
  • Don’t feel discouraged when you encounter setbacks. In health care leadership, there is never a straight path towards your goal.
  • When your stakeholders are all saying “no” to you, remember the power of a patient’s voice in changing minds and leading progress.

Connecting theory to practice

Duff’s presentation was powerful because it integrated much of the course teachings within the MHLP classroom to real practice and professional experience. The guest speaker spoke candidly about her experience and encouraged MHLP students to strive towards their highest potential with confidence and professionalism. The MHLP cohort benefited from connecting with this industry leader, especially because Duff was so transparent with her teachings and advice.

Do you intend to be a leader in health care? UBC’s Master of Health Leadership & Policy is designed for experienced health professionals looking to transform their career. Explore our specializations in Seniors Care and Clinical Education today.