What Cleveland Clinic looks for in the ideal IT team member — it isn't just technical knowledge: Q&A with CIO Ed Marx

Ed Marx is a veteran in the health IT space and currently leads the IT team at Cleveland Clinic as CIO.

He has previous experience as senior vice president and CIO of Texas Health Resources in Dallas/Fort Worth and spent more than two years as executive vice president of Advisory Board while also providing IT leadership to NYC Health + Hospitals. Here, Mr. Marx discusses what Cleveland Clinic looks for when hiring new IT members and the vision to keep team members engaged.

Question: What has been your No. 1 priority in building a strong IT team?

Ed Marx: Finding individuals with character and competence. These are the foundation stones to build trust. Add in diversity of thought, life and experience. Next, I am intentional on relationship building. I set quarterly external activities that include partners and kids, and monthly external activities just to catch up socially.

Q: What qualities do you look for when hiring new team members? What does the ideal candidate’s background and experience look like?

EM: Empathy and service passion. Finding individuals who have empathy. Finding people who desire to serve. Finding people who want to make a difference with their lives. With this foundation, you can build an amazing team. It has less to do with experience or technical know-how. It is all about desire and empathy.

Q: How do you keep your best team members engaged?

EM: Vision. Engagement begins with hiring well in the first place. Things I already mentioned like empathy and passion and service and competence and character. Then you give them the 'why.' The compelling call to action about why we do the things we do. It really comes down to meaningful work. Teams are engaged when they believe the why and know their contributions lead to something bigger than themselves.

Q: What are you doing to compete with other healthcare organizations and IT companies to attract and retain the top talent?

EM: We don’t really think about competing with other organizations for top talent. We believe leading with our vision and culture helps us attract that kind of people we desire. If someone is driven primarily by salary, they won’t be a good fit. Once you are part of our team, we will invest in you.

Every caregiver (employee) has a development plan. We have a rock star HR division with many resources to help everyone get to the next level of their capabilities and grow their career. Inside of IT we have formal mentoring programs and numerous adjunct intensives. Everyone learns Agile. Everyone gets certified in IT Service Management (ITIL/ITSM). Everyone spends time with clinicians. What keeps caregivers here goes back to what I shared earlier: having a compelling vision that answers the why and serving in a culture where patients are first, and every caregiver is treated as family.

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