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Guest Speaker Series: Effective Leadership in Healthcare

October 21, 2021
UBC Master Health Leadership and Policy - Healthcare Industry Leadership

On Wednesday, Sept. 29th UBC’s Master of Engineering Leadership (MHLP) welcomed leading management consultants in healthcare solutions to speak to MHLP students about effective leadership in health care. As the world continues to navigate the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, understanding how to lead effectively has become more important than ever before.

The panel was formed by Joanna Shum is an Executive Healthcare Management Consultant with more than 15 years of experience. Beside her, Shardae Brown, Senior Management Consultant, Healthcare Solutions at KPMG and an experienced virtual health and health informatics leader.

Together, the two engaged the MHLP students in a fruitful discussion on the successes and challenges within health care from a leadership standpoint.

Shum and Brown’s diverse and solid background in the field helped to portray different perspectives that met the diverse interests of the MHLP cohorts. Joanna Shum approaches strategic planning in a human-centric way that is data-driven, connecting the foundations of evidence-based decision-making with people-powered dialogue and collaboration. She reveals root causes and actionable insights by taking the time to listen; uncovering what is not being said, and tapping into the collective wisdom of our patients, clinicians, and stakeholders. Whereas Shardae Brown brings vast experience in managing teams on complex transformational projects, including enterprise strategic planning and program delivery. She utilizes clinical and project experience, in combination with research and change management skills to engage internal and external stakeholders to enhance patient and provider experience.


What qualities do good leaders in healthcare have? Shum and Brown pointed out that effective leaders show high levels of vulnerability. In other words, they stated that good leaders are those who are willing to courageously embrace uncertainty. Great leaders build transparent connections with others and are more likely to create effective and positive impact. They also listed good storytelling skills, confidence in the job, and openness to feedback. A sense of humour with the particularities and challenges that come with roles also goes a long way.

The panellists highlighted that effective leaders understand how to work with uncertainty and make decisions without having all the answers. Shum and Brown highlight that it is unrealistic to expect to have all of the correct answers or solutions. These unmet expectations can turn into an undue level of stress.


Another point raised and agreed on was the idea of manager versus leader. A manager may not always be a leader.

Leadership goes beyond technical skills. That said, effective leaders are skilled in emotional intelligence, communication, self-awareness, and empathy, to name a few.

Shum and Brown emphasized the importance to recognize these strengths and develop them to effectively lead their teams.


Throughout the session, the panel pointed out that successful leaders are those that build highly functioning teams. Shum and Brown highlighted three qualities to look for setting up an effective team:

  1. Diversity of healthcare experience
  2. Nurturing an engaging environment
  3. Sharing a common goal and purpose

Leaders can build diverse healthcare teams in which professionals play to their strengths and contribute to the overall team’s success. They nurture an environment based on trust that leads to high effectiveness. In a world where time is of the essence, effective teams are critical to the lives of those they serve.


Shum and Brown’s final recommendation to those seeking to pursue leadership roles in healthcare was to develop a strong network with other professionals and mentors in the field.

“Mentors were key in my success because they provided guidance, thoughts, and opinions on what the next step should be in my career,” says Shum. Brown encouraged MHLP students to find good mentors, such as the ones they may have already met in their programs and practicum experiences.


UBC’s MHLP professional development and guest speaker series is designed to contribute leadership best practices to MHLP students that will complement their MHLP studies.

This panel featuring healthcare consultants Joanna Shum and Shardae Brown enabled MHLP students to gain another view into what effective leadership looks like in healthcare. Through engaging discussions like these, students take home fundamental tips and knowledge to further their understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the field and effectively impact their careers in the same way it has impacted successful alumni of the MHLP in Clinical Education and Seniors Care programs.