When you think you’ve seen it all, think again. Friday the 13th of June marked the end of my second week of work in Querétaro, México, and oh boy was it action packed.
In my two weeks of working with a post start-up healthcare provider, I’ve witnessed the raw madness that the CEO (founding entrepreneur) confronts on a daily basis, from day-to-day operations to high level strategic decisions; stressing the need for great general management skills and techniques. He does this all while keeping his ‘hands on the wheel and foot on the gas’; not wanting to ‘slow the bus down’ and thinking he’s driving corporate strategy with every decision made.
However, many of the decisions made in this small and resource strapped dialysis clinic system are made without the benefit of quick, reliable, and transparent information; particularly fiscal decisions. Team members in key functional areas who provide decision support to the CEO have been handicapped by inefficient and convoluted systems. Consequently hindering company growth and investor engagement.
One of the two trips to México City that I’ve been a part of was to update current investors on the pressing need for more capital, due mostly to construction cost for the soon to open clinic blowing by its original budget and threatening continuing operations. Well, as you may imagine, that was not good news for the fund manager. My boss was put on blast for not keeping his eye on company liquidity and for installing ‘nice to have’ solar panels. Clearly the clinics are not funded by an environmentally friendly venture capital fund…at the end of the day it’s about making money for risk tolerant investors.
The second trip to the Distrito Federal (México City) was way more exciting. It was to follow-up on an investment pitch that was previously made to another venture fund looking to add my boss’s company to their portfolio of social-impact organizations. This second round of venture funding would contribute a few million dollars to our clinic system and support our very aggressive growth strategy.
At first I felt as if I was in a Wall Street movie because of all the suits and corporate environment that I was surrounded by. I mean I was sitting in a nice conference room that was housed in one of the largest international banks, overlooking one of Mexico’s national monuments (El Angel de La Independencia). And to get to see how, and listen as, an entrepreneur tried to confidently sell his company to a prominent investment firm was priceless! I was even “sold” as one of the many company assets and got to participate in the pitch. WOW what an internship…thank you Duke!!
Now this is where I really come in. These past two weeks I’ve been implementing a home grown reporting tool that consolidates financial data and pegs it against clinical and operational statistics to allow for accessible, transparent, reliable, and insightful reporting. In other words, intelligent decision support for the CEO and the management team.
So when I saw the man on the highway driving that skeleton of a truck to México City, I could not help but use it as an analogy of how my boss is managing to keep his business moving forward, and providing much needed dialysis services, with a less than adequate set of business tools to help guide his organization.
P.S. Do you really think the seat belt the driver is wearing will keep him from flying out of the wooden chair he is sitting in? I’m telling you when you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t.
Jose Magaña Paredes
Master of Business Administration
Master of Environmental Management
Candidate 2016, Duke University
Fuqua School of Business
Nicholas School of the Environment