Mark Carpenter

Director, Regional Administration
Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland, OH

What interested you about a career in healthcare?

I started my first job in healthcare as a freshman in college. One afternoon, I was in the hospital standing in the main lobby and watching all the people come in. There was a variety of people coming in and they all had different emotions. They were nervous, scared, hopeful or relieved. And while I’m not a clinician by trade, I help support the care for them by doing a behind-the-scenes operation. That could be me walking in the door or a family member or a friend. That energized me that day and I realized my purpose of being at work. It takes everyone to come together to provide that support and care for the patient. That’s something I fell in love within healthcare, and it grounded me. I’ve worked in a couple of different industries and felt like healthcare is where I could make a change.

What do you like about working in supply chain? Was it a position you sought, or found out about once you began working in the field?

I did a couple of different internships at Cleveland Clinic, and they were all on the operations side. One was with human resources. One was with protective services. They weren’t with supply chain, but I really liked working with Cleveland Clinic and when I saw positions open with supply chain that drove me into it.

In what ways has the supply chain changed over the last 2-3 years, from your perspective?

In the past 2-3 years, what’s changed in supply chain has been on the data front. We used to have a bunch of spreadsheets and massive databases, and what’s changed is that you need all that data right now at your fingertips in a user friendly format. Something to easily understand with the ability to dive into the details and the complexities of supply chain. You’re leveraging that data to tell your story, to convey a message, to mitigate an issue or risk, or to make a decision. Having all of that at the forefront with Covid and having to make quick, rapid decisions reinforces that data-centric supply chain.

What are some of the big challenges your supply chain team is facing as we head into 2023?

Some of the challenges that you see all around are about product availability, whether it’s a shortage or backorder or on allocation. For us in supply chain, regardless of what’s happening, that adds more steps and delays to our supply chain. Those steps and delays cause additional stress and work for all of our employees. On top of that, you have the financial situation we’re all in now in that adds pressure to streamline operations and become more efficient. Mixing all of that together creates a challenging environment to navigate.

Some of the programs we’re trying to implement are better communication with our suppliers and distributors and getting that insight of when there’s going to be a disruption beforehand. Can we see some of their data insights and market intelligence to help us be prepared if we need to find an alternative supply? And we’re trying to keep them informed as well. If we have 27 cases scheduled for this month, we’re sharing that with the suppliers, so they feel that as well. There’s a human element in all of this. It’s not just ‘hey, I have an order and I need this product.’ There’s 27 people coming in for an operation and you need to help us make sure we have those products available.

What’s the most rewarding project you’ve worked on recently?

We just wrapped up one of my favorite projects in March 2022 and it was opening Cleveland Clinic London. I led the project management arm of that for supply chain. It was Cleveland Clinic’s first hospital in Europe. It was a mix of bringing the best from Cleveland and the U.S. and the best from the U.K. and blending it together to make a state-of-the-art facility. It was a complex project. There were a lot of challenges and mitigations from external areas. For example, Brexit was in the middle of that and Covid was in the middle of that. We already had a challenging project in itself of building a new facility in another country, but then those other things layered in made the contracting and procurement that much more challenging. It was interesting for me, and I enjoyed that opportunity because I got to meet people from all around the world and we could share and learn from each other. Everyone had a different way of approaching a problem from our different backgrounds. I lived over there for about six months.

Does your organization have a formal or informal leadership development plan? Have you had any mentors that have provided guidance?

Cleveland Clinic has a formal leadership development program. I was in a six-month course with leaders from the clinical side and administrative side and it brought us together as a cohort to develop our skills. We also had some service learning experience through volunteering in the community. That was really helpful, and I’ve paired that up with mentors that I’ve had so far in my career. One of the things I value from my mentors is having a sounding board and someone to talk a problem through. It’s always good to get someone else’s perspective on a challenge and how they help you pick it apart and think of things you’re not seeing. I’m also lucky enough to have some mentors in different industries as some of the supply chain problems are all around. That gives insight into how another area is tackling an issue.

One of the big things I’ve learned from mentors and the program is “team of teams” and working with others. In my new role for our Florida region and abroad, we are connecting all of the different regions to our central enterprise. You’re never working by yourself. Even within supply chain, there are tons of different teams working through there, as well as teams outside of supply chain. There’s a mix of people in clinical and administrative in our Cleveland Clinic development programs and they put you through different situations to see how you will respond to it. It taught you real world experiences where you’ll work with clinical and administration and have to understand each other.

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