Successful Turnarounds: Mark Laret, UCSF Medical Center

Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center and the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, discusses leading at an academic medical center and shares his experience taking UCSF from near-financial ruin to one of the top ten hospitals in the nation.

Full Transcript

What I’ve learned over doing two turnarounds is that the most important thing is to connect with people on the core of the mission. What are we here about? What really matters?

So I’m Mark Laret, I’m the CEO at UCSF Medical Center and the UCSF Benioff
Children’s Hospital here in San Francisco. I’ve been involved in academic medicine since 1980. I really started my career at UCLA Medical Center and there I learned the unique aspects of working in a healthcare setting that’s not only focused on delivering healthcare but also on training the next generation of physicians and conducting clinical

I think when you are faced with a very difficult turnaround situation, the first thing you do is listen, and let people vent, hear them out—hear their take on what went wrong, and what caused the issue. Start to probe people a little bit about what it is that they’re proud of about the place they work, what they think those strong core assets are. What do they want to see change, what’s their hope for the future?

Let them say their piece so you learn a lot from that but also to get them re-engaged with the organization and start to have optimism about the future. I think the number one job of leaders is to give people a sense, ‘Hey we can do this, we don’t have to be relegated to this difficult spot, we can do much better.’ Yes, we were losing five million dollars a month, there was a lot of demoralization of the staff and faculty because of the failed merger with Stanford—but the fundamental asset that we had, strong people, was something I knew would would carry us forward.