How Adam Holland, CFO of Tivity Health Navigated Moving from Retail to Healthcare
In my January newsletter, I elaborated on the tightening of the candidate market and the willingness of organizations to look at leadership from other industries. Fast forward six months, we continue to see an uptick with industry cross-over; more organizations are subscribing to that mindset and realizing the many benefits this can provide.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Adam Holland, Chief Financial Officer at Tivity Health, to discuss how he navigated that change, having transitioned from a leadership role in retail to healthcare two years ago.
What challenges did you believe you would initially have coming from a retail background going into healthcare?
Knowing I had to become a student again. Being in any industry for a long time, you get into somewhat of a comfort zone. I had to be open to a mindset change and become a student of health and healthcare. One of the first things I did was reach out to some friends in the industry, along with some of the members of the Tivity Health Board. Creating a group of personal advisors who have industry expertise is key.
What were the biggest challenges that you actually had?
Initially, the biggest challenge was learning the rules of my new environment. The highly regulated healthcare industry includes much more to consider than just HIPAA and PHI. Tivity Health is excellent in this regard and provided top-notch training and continuing education to me and my colleagues.
What has surprised you and been relatively easier than you anticipated?
The commonalities between retail and healthcare surprised me. In retail, you are constantly focused on the psychology of the customer and how to affect that customer’s behavior. You want them to transact with you, to engage with you by buying your products, and to create a lasting relationship that adds value. In the health and wellness business, it’s very similar. We are trying to help our members change their behavior to achieve a healthier lifestyle. In our case, we want seniors to engage with other seniors in a social environment and participate in physical fitness, which in turn, also helps with their emotional fitness. With our recent acquisition of Nutrisystem, we are serving our customers as a trusted partner to help guide them on a path to lose weight, feel better, and enjoy a more active lifestyle.
What advice were you given when you were contemplating the move?
I was very happy where I was prior to Tivity Health and enjoyed what I was doing. The ‘why’ I wanted to make the move really came down to my experience with my father, which was a very personal experience. He died of cancer at the age of 62 and I helped take care of him during the last months of his life. I had to help my father navigate a very complex and confusing healthcare system, through surgeries, chemotherapy, and ultimately his hospice. Afterward, I rethought my priorities and what I want to do with the rest of my life. When I was presented with the opportunity at Tivity Health, it triggered those emotions and experiences with my dad and I felt a calling to their mission. I remember my father once telling me that anything truly worthwhile will certainly be difficult. I am thrilled I made the move to be part of Tivity Health’s wonderful mission, purpose, and culture. It is well worth the challenge of transitioning to a new industry.
What advice would you give to someone contemplating a similar move?When contemplating a move into a different industry, don’t be intimidated by what you have to learn. There are plenty of people and resources out there to help. Ask yourself why you are leaving where you are and make sure it’s for the right reason.
What would you share with other healthcare organizations if they are considering new leadership from outside the industry?
I would say please consider it. While we may not have the same depth of subject matter expertise as someone who has been in healthcare their entire career, we may be better suited in other areas and bring completely different perspectives which can benefit your organization. Just like a good Board of Directors, focus on building a team with diversity in both background and expertise and your team will make smarter decisions.
Holland has served in a variety of executive financial roles throughout his career, including a 12-year tenure at retailer Kirkland’s, Inc., where he became Chief Financial Officer in 2015. Holland also spent three years earlier in his career as a senior auditor with Ernst & Young, LLP.
Holland holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Master of Accountancy from the University of Tennessee at Martin. To learn more about Tivity Health, click here.
Darren has a deep background in executive search, including CEO of Hooper Sloan, a boutique executive search firm, where he specialized in identifying and placing Healthcare leaders. Prior to Hooper Sloan, Darren founded The Infinity Resource Group Inc., a consortium that specialized in Recruiting and Staff Augmentation within the Healthcare industry.
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