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An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Embrace Your Failures. It’s inevitable. Not every hiring decision, business strategy, product decision, financial investment, etc. is going to be perfect and that’s okay. As a leader I am often asked to make decisions with partial information and make the best-informed decision I can at the time despite the ambiguity. When I make the wrong decision, I spend time reflecting on what I could have changed or how I could have approached it differently so that I don’t make the same mistake. My dad’s favorite saying is “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karly Rowe.

Karly Rowe is responsible for the Patient Access, Identity, and Care Management product portfolios at Experian Health. With a diverse background across credit, retail, and healthcare, Karly is responsible for finding new ways to leverage Experian’s data and analytical capabilities to develop new, innovative solutions for the healthcare industry. Karly holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management and Retail Management from Syracuse University. She resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband and two sons.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I started my career at Macy’s in retail management back in the days when we had to run queries to pull data out of the mainframe into an excel spreadsheet and write a bunch of crazy formulas to help us analyze and determine what goods to send to what stores. It was then that I realized my love for data and analytics and how important it is to make data actionable for organizations. When Experian was on campus at Arizona State University during my Masters of Business Administration program, I knew instantly that I wanted to work there — a company with vast amounts of data with a vision to use data for good.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Disruption can come in many forms. To me it is a mindset — to not accept the status quo and to not be afraid to fail. I often hear comments such as “it’s been like this forever in healthcare” or “the industry has been talking about that for years.” I challenge my teams at Experian Health each day to think outside the box and identify options and solutions for us to pressure test in the market that make healthcare operations and processes better and faster, and data more accurate and predictive. Some ideas are home runs and some ideas are flops, but encouraging an environment where all ideas are welcome and failing fast is celebrated, means we will continually disrupt the market.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I don’t know if there is anything specific, I definitely have put my foot in my mouth without intending to along the way.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Various mentors have helped me throughout my career, some which were established through formal programs and others which grew more naturally through work and relationships. Entering Experian through an MBA Leadership Rotation program equipped me with a Development Coach, a formal mentor, and the opportunity to create and leverage relationships across the projects I led.

My mentors have been both male and female, but in the most recent years I’ve leaned more heavily on female mentors such as Jennifer Schulz and Nicole Rogas who have helped me navigate the transition and challenges of being a working mom (and a career ambitious working mom). They have and continue to offer advice, give me perspective, and help me find and give grace to myself, my children, and others.

This has helped me through different transitions, and one that stands out was when I was having my first child and determining how to plan for maternity leave and the transition back. Advice shared with me was to do a gradual transition back with 2–3 weeks working 2–3 days a week to ease back into work. It helped immensely.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from them is that balance is different for every person and it’s important to find the balance that is right for me. Moms tend to feel a lot of guilt — guilt for the time you aren’t spending or giving to your kids, your significant other, your work, or yourself. I’m not perfect and I don’t always strike the perfect balance, but I’ve learned to make decisions and plans which help me achieve my best balance. I’ve started doing 1:1 days with my oldest son once a quarter — time to eat hot dogs, play outside and just spend quality time together. I also do my best to maintain boundaries for family time so from 5 pm to 8 pm I am present with family.

I also appreciate the culture that they and others have created within our business/company which promotes a family-first attitude. You can’t plan when your child gets sick or when daycare shuts down unexpectedly, and I am lucky to work for a company that understands if you can’t make a meeting or if you might make the meeting but have an extra coworker or two with you.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

The whole point of being disruptive is to be disruptive for a positive outcome, to leave something better than it was before your change. If you can’t say that you made a process better or easier or less costly or improved an experience, then why are you doing it? If the consequences of your decision are greater than the benefits, then you should rethink whether it really is the right approach or if it needs to be modified. It’s not productive to focus on disruption for the sake of disruption or with the end goal to “shake things up.”

I think about years ago when file-sharing streaming services were first created — the early days of Napster as a peer-to-peer sharing service where users could go and download songs for free, however it couldn’t manage the copyrighted material in the network and was forced to shut down with over 80 million users. It was entirely disruptive to the music industry and turned the profit model on its head. Some would argue, CDs were too expensive, and the industry was begging for disruption, and some would argue that going from zero to one hundred (i.e. free) was too drastic. While this approach wasn’t successful, it did ignite a major transition in the way people thought about music and digital access to music which led to the evolution of other streaming services and today represents a low per song rate, accessible online through various platforms.

It’s common to identify a problem and want to solve it, but if the problem were easy to solve it would have been solved long ago. Some disruptive ideas might solve for one problem but create several others and therein not really solving for the whole problem. Sometimes the related problems created are unaddressed opportunities which can be addressed in your solution.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  • Stay inquisitive. I’ve always had an interest in learning and a desire to know what I don’t know or understand the “why” behind the decision. Early in my career, a boss pointed out this as one of my greatest assets and it’s what has helped me achieve success. Oftentimes people think asking questions is admitting you don’t know something, but she helped me see that asking questions helped me earn people’s respect and trust, created a positive environment, and helped me become informed to know more on the topic which I would later use or be able to draw on the experience.
  • Embrace Your Failures. It’s inevitable. Not every hiring decision, business strategy, product decision, financial investment, etc. is going to be perfect and that’s okay. As a leader I am often asked to make decisions with partial information and make the best-informed decision I can at the time despite the ambiguity. When I make the wrong decision, I spend time reflecting on what I could have changed or how I could have approached it differently so that I don’t make the same mistake. My dad’s favorite saying is “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”
  • Always Be Yourself. One of the things I am most proud of is being an authentic leader. I am honest even when conversations are hard and find that it fosters a team culture and environment where people feel comfortable being honest, while still maintaining respect. Growing up in New Jersey, this is definitely more of a “Northeastern’’ attitude, but it is something that I’ve held onto because it is part of who I am. What You See is What You Get.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Right now, I am enjoying finding new ways to help evolve the healthcare experience. I continue to seek ways to use our data, analytics, and software to help healthcare organizations make better, more informed decisions which translate into helping to keep people healthy. I don’t feel like I’ve exhausted the resources at my fingertips or the connections in the industry to feel like the job is done or that I’ve done enough transformation.

Looking farther out, I don’t know what the future holds or what twists and turns there might be, but I am up for the challenge and open to the possibilities. Maybe it’s transforming healthcare further, or it’s going back to financial services or retail, or exploring a new industry or global market altogether. Only time will tell.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Whenever someone is paving a path that doesn’t yet exist there is doubt and skepticism on whether the path will work and if it is the right path to take. In my experience, men tend to be better about pushing aside the skeptics and detractors to stay focused on the task at hand. It appears that they are more confident in their decision and by default others get on board faster. Female disruptors are more likely to listen to the doubts and use those to reflect on the path chosen and use it to reinforce the decision they have made. They too are confident in their path but still reflective. Both men and women are successful and can achieve the same result but the journey to how they get there may look and feel different.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

One of my favorite books is “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” by Lois P. Frankel. Early in my career one of my former bosses told me that I was “nice.” What most people would consider a compliment, mortified me. I didn’t want my brand to be “Karly is nice.” Nice in a professional setting often implies that a person gets walked all over. One of my development coaches suggested I read this book, which gave my insight into some of my unconscious mistakes.

This book is a great exploration of understanding why women act the way they do and what bias we’re imposing on ourselves more so than others imposing it on us. It made me stop and think about the brand that I wanted to create for myself and the words I wanted people to use to describe me — Authentic, Approachable, Passionate, Agile, Self-Motivated, Confident, Collaborative, and Accountable. Using a vision for the brand I wanted to create helped me think about how I embody those characteristics in the way I acted and how I approached different scenarios. This is a continuous journey as I am always learning and always striving to be better.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As nerdy as this sounds, I am really passionate about using data to make decisions and I think healthcare can be transformed dramatically by making useful, relevant data accessible to both patients and doctors to make decisions.

The responsibility for keeping a patient healthy falls on the individual and the care team surrounding the individual — imagine a world where the data was accurate, easily accessible, and comprehensive. Patients could trust that they were always getting a well-informed decision from a doctor and that their care plans were designed specifically around their needs — do they need help accessing healthy food options, do they have trouble getting to the doctor, do they need a payment plan or financial assistance to afford a necessary procedure, do they need telehealth services because they are too far from healthcare, do they know how much a procedure will cost / if there are lower cost prescriptions available, or do they need a place they can share records with another adult in charge of their care decisions because they are unable to make those choices themselves.

Empowering care teams (doctors, specialists, pharmacists, etc.) to care for patients in a tailored way and allowing patients that same visibility to make decisions for themselves is a critical part of the larger goal we all share — to keep people healthy.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Don’t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you become (by Louis Mandylor). We are a combination of our experiences which is something I learned at a young age. I was 13 sitting in French class when I got a sharp pain in my chest which I later learned was a collapsed lung. Turns out I was born with “blebs” or air pockets on my lungs that are no bigger than the size of a pinhead and after a few days in the hospital, a chest tube to re-inflate the lung, I was back at school with restricted activity. A few months later the same lung collapsed again, while on the basketball court. This time around a more invasive procedure was required and a longer recovery. There was nothing fatal about what I was going through and even with collapsed lungs you can still breathe…but it gave me a perspective as I sat in the hospital in the ICU and saw children much younger than me with illnesses far more severe than mine who had smiles on their faces and an optimism and hope for the future.

I had two more collapsed lungs (this time the other side) during my sophomore year of college and the second collapse happened while taking my Managerial Accounting midterm which I was stubborn enough to still finish before heading to the hospital. I had another invasive procedure with a much longer recovery, so the process was challenging as I had to make-up midterm exams and catch up on a month of missed college classes.

My sophomore year was difficult, but it was my Junior year at Tulane University that really caused reflection. It was August and I was two days away from flying back to school to celebrate my best friend’s birthday when Hurricane Katrina was approaching New Orleans. The next few months hit me with several feelings:

  • Disappointment — there was no living with friends in an on-campus apartment.
  • Guilt / confusion — most of my personal things left in storage were washed away, but did they matter to me when I looked at what others had lost?
  • Anxiety about the unknown of where I would go to school / if I could go to school — after a few weeks, sister schools to Tulane began opening a limited number of spots and we had to apply with no transcripts (everything was down). Would the campus ever re-open?
  • Sadness — the campus and city I loved, the nice people who ran the stores and restaurants who had just lost everything they had, including loved ones…all devastated by the flooding and damage left behind by Katrina.
  • Uncertainty — when Tulane re-opened several majors were cut and limited in courses, you couldn’t use water from the tap without boiling it, and the air quality was not great especially for someone with my lung history.

After a lot of discussion, I made the decision to transfer closer to home (New Jersey) at Syracuse. I was starting over halfway through my junior year — academically I had to retake most classes I had taken at Tulane and Emory and most semesters I was loaded with 7 classes, but I was determined to graduate on time and with honors.

Reflection on the above helped me gain perspective. What I went through pales in comparison to what others deal with daily and you can never predict what the future holds. All you can do is do your best to live for today, plan for tomorrow, and adjust when life throws you some curveballs and your plans get tossed out the window. No use getting upset about what did or didn’t happen — just embrace the change and adapt.

How can our readers follow you online?

I am on LinkedIn and Experian Health is on LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Female Disruptors: Experian’s Karly Rowe On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.