Phyllis Teater

 Phyllis Teater

Chief Information Officer
Wexner Medical Center

If you had to define Glass Breakers in one word, what would that word be? And explain why you chose that word.

If I had to describe a Glass Breaker in one word, it would be persistence. It’s persistence in your discipline, in how you pursue relationships with your peers and the people that work for you and your customers, and really to be able to have persistence in all of the things that it takes to be a part of such a great organization.

Describe your career path that has led to your current post.

My career path has been very blessed and I've spent 27 years at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. I started as a programmer with a new IT degree from The Ohio State University and I then got my MBA from Ohio State too. I have been fortunate to take on my bosses' jobs whenever they became available and it was the right time. Now I oversee the department that I started in.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I strive to be a servant leader. I see my role as serving the people on my team, my customers and my peers. I don't program our computers – they don't let me touch them anymore. My job is breaking down barriers so that our department can do its job and enable the computers to help the university.

What were the best career investments you've made along the way?

The best career investments I made along the way started with the people and organizations I’ve encountered where I've bettered my understanding of how to serve our customers. I was fortunate to pursue an MBA here at Ohio State and that was a wonderful investment. I had the technology background in my undergrad education and the business background from my MBA which helped me to involve myself in the business of healthcare.

Any mentors or champions who supported your professional development?

My biggest champion is my husband and my three children, and without them I wouldn't be anything that I am today. I have had some amazing bosses and leadership that helped me develop my career and understand how to deliver a service in a way that drives business improvements and also other women from the Medical Center who have been helpful in understanding how to be a woman in leadership at Ohio State. I think about Gail Marsh, Beth NeCamp [both previous Glass Breakers] and other outstanding people that I've been very fortunate to work with.

How would you describe your career goals today? How have they changed over time?

The biggest career goal I've always tried to focus on is to do the job that I have and not try to spend too much time thinking about a job I didn't get or the next job I'm going to get. I had a particular experience with that kind of situation where I got a job I didn't want and was asked to take on. I thought it was a demotion and I almost considered leaving the university, but I stuck with it and decided to try to knock it out of the park. It served me well and has been an experience that has taught me if you focus on what's ahead of you today and the goals that you have and your business, then tomorrow will take care of itself.

What kinds of challenges have you faced along the way, and how did you overcome them?

Some of the biggest challenges in healthcare have been driving the adoption of electronic medical records. We work directly with physicians to be able to change the way that they practice, and they need to use a computer system to practice medicine. That process has not been the norm; we were an early adopter here at Ohio State. The most difficult thing that I had to do was to understand how much we were impacting the practice of medicine and make sure that we were doing everything we could to help make it through that transition while taking fantastic care of our patients.

When you think about serving in a leadership role as a female, do any unique experiences come to mind?

When I look at an opportunity I make sure that I am very aware and try to discern why something didn't go the way I planned. The lesson I've learned is to look first at how I behaved, and not to always make an assumption that it is because I'm a woman or because I'm short or because I went to Ohio State and I've only ever been here. I ask myself “What was my contribution to that opportunity?”

What advice would you give to other women looking to reach similar goals?

Do the very best job you can at the job you have today.

What's next for you, maybe something that you're looking forward to?

I've just participated in a strategic planning process at the Medical Center that coordinated with the university's strategic plan. We have lots of goals including how we make the patient experience digital. A patient should be able to experience healthcare the same way they are experiencing almost all other services in their life. So how do we make that more digital? Why can't a patient schedule an appointment on their phone with two clicks? We have a lot of work starting in that area as a major piece of our strategy. In addition, we are planning for some new facilities. I'm looking forward to being able to plan for a new hospital that will be near the new James and allow us to have a state-of-the-art place to take care of even more patients.