In pursuit of growth, Kraig McEwen leads Aesynt back to its roots

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That strong leadership team is helping Aesynt today as it heads into the future, launching new technologies geared around helping hospitals and health systems consolidate and improve quality of care, while dramatically cutting costs. The company also hopes to grow through new acquisitions in 2014.

“Intellectually, it’s an amazing time in our health care system in this country right now,” McEwen says. “It’s a challenging time, all right. If you’re a health system CEO, you have a really tough job right now.

“But with all that change, if you’ve got a good core technology platform and a focus on what your space is, you can really thrive,” he says. “It just requires you to stay focused.”

 

Takeaways:

  • Control change by focusing on top priorities.
  • Disciplined, open communication reassures employees and customers.
  • Practice handling different scenarios as a leadership team.

 

The McEwen File:

Name: Kraig McEwen
Title: CEO
Company: Aesynt Inc.

Born: Monroeville, Pa.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in finance/international business from Penn State University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I was a bus boy at Birdies Bar & Restaurant in Monroeville, and I learned to cook. I’ve worked since high school. Overall, I’ve learned you need to be lucky, but you tend to have more opportunities to be lucky when you work hard. I don’t think that’s unique to me; it’s just engrained in the Pittsburgh region.

What is the best business advice you ever received? The best advice I ever got was from the CEO of GE Fanuc, where I started my career. I was there for a couple of years, and I was going to do my first acquisition, buying a company in Seattle. I’d never bought a company before, and he gave me advice that has served me well my entire career.

The essence of it was, he said, ‘Fly out and have the management team sit down and talk with you for an hour and a half. Have a piece of paper and put a line in the middle of paper. On the left side put “statement,” and on the right side put “question.”

‘And every time the management team asks you a question, put a little tick mark. And when they make a statement, put a tick mark. And at the end of that session, if there is not at least twice as many questions, don’t buy them, because they are not a really good management team.’

The lesson was basically, as the leader of the organization, you have a lot that you have to do, but the most important thing you have to do is to learn. And if you’re making statements, you’re not learning.

Someone who asks more questions has an immense advantage, and far more information to make thoughtful decisions.

If you weren’t in business, is there anything else you’d like to do? I still want to teach some day. I’d like to teach junior high or high school.