Brian Sandager, senior vice president and general manager of Cerner Government Services, has spent more than 20 years leading change in health systems nationally and worldwide.
At Cerner Government Services, he has overseen the work of over 5,000 Cerner associates and 40 partner companies, focusing on providing the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs with interoperable electronic health records.
WashingtonExec caught up with Sandager to talk notable moments in his career and current position, and how he’s helping shape the next generation of industry leaders.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I believe maintaining a service-oriented mindset and leadership style makes us successful. The patient, caregivers and providers should be at the heart and center of all that we do. It never should be about me; it should be about veterans, service members and their families, our client and our team.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
I was very fortunate early on to spend time on the front lines with our clients, working directly with providers and interacting with patients in hospitals and clinics. From that experience, I was also able to learn more about the operations and business side of a hospital and health system, making it easy to understand the impact and value realized from Cerner solutions. When our clients are successful in providing excellent care to their patients and communities, we are successful.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
I am most proud of the work we are doing with veterans, service members and their families. To see and hear that patients no longer have to haul boxes of medical records to their appointments as a result of Cerner’s modernization of VA’s EHR is gratifying.
How do you help shape the next generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
Every interaction with our team, partners, and clients is an opportunity to help someone grow their career and learn about the industry. It’s important to help them understand the importance of the mission to transform health care while supporting their journey of finding the best place to contribute to that mission.
This includes sharing stories of how other leaders have gained valuable experience, validating the direction they’re on and understanding how they feel about their strengths and challenges. It’s important for leaders and associates to own their development — self-awareness and commitment is key to long-term success, so I try to support around that.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
I am proud of all the great associates and leaders that I have been privileged to work with in support of caregivers and their patients. Many have gone on to do great things outside of Cerner with our clients and in the industry. Watching leaders develop and succeed is something I am very thankful to have a small part in.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Hard work is table stakes. I have never met a senior executive that doesn’t work hard. Finding opportunities to take on challenges that aren’t glamorous or stepping in when a team or organization needs help often leads to the greatest opportunities to contribute and grow.
Examine your skills and experiences and actively seek out opportunities in areas where you don’t have experience or teams in those spaces that could use an extra set of hands. If you do your day job, learn about new parts of the business, and help out during challenging times, it will get noticed.