Corner Office: Baptist Health CEO Michael Mayo on his love for teaching, riding motorcycles

Michael Mayo became the president and CEO of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Baptist Health June 1, and he brings more than 32 years of healthcare executive experience to the role.

Mr. Mayo most recently served as president of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, the flagship facility of Baptist Health. He became interim system president and CEO when Brett McClung resigned May 1.

Mr. Mayo leads a five-hospital health system with more than 13,000 employees. 

Here, he answers Becker's Hospital Review's Corner Office questions: 

Editor's note: Responses have been edited lightly for length and clarity.

Question: What piqued your interest in healthcare?

Michael Mayo: My journey into the healthcare field began when working in the business office of a major county medical center while attending graduate school. I was pursuing a graduate degree in teaching, but in the hospital I had the opportunity to become introduced to helping people at their most vulnerable time, while seeking medical care in a hospital. My interest grew as I had the chance to move into an early administrative role in the medical center that exposed me to more direct patient care and the many team members that make up the care team. This interest led me to change my graduate education path to pursuing a master's degree in healthcare administration and later completing a postgraduate fellowship in hospital administration. As I gained experience and insight into the importance and impact of leadership in a healthcare setting, the combination of teaching and leading in a faith-based organization have met my personal and professional goals. 

Q: What do you enjoy most about Jacksonville?

MM: Having moved to and from Jacksonville on four different occasions, I have come to love the sense of community Jacksonville offers.  What I mean by that is as the largest land-mass city in the U.S., Jacksonville's various communities become so important. The diversity and variety of the communities, the beach, the intercoastal, the urban core, and the rural parts of Jacksonville come together in a beautiful sense of the true meaning of community.

Q: If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry's problems overnight, which would it be?

MM: Access — closing the gaps of care and social determinants that limit access. I liken this to the quote by Desmond Tutu, "There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they're falling in." We, as healthcare providers, must go upstream to assist people in their health before they reach a critical state.

Q: What is your greatest talent or skill outside of the C-suite?

MM: Teaching. I love to see the lightbulb go off above a person or student's head when I see they really "get it." As an adjunct professor in the Brooks College of Health at the University of North Florida, I love being in the classroom and assisting students in understanding the real-world components of leading a healthcare organization. In addition, my 30+ years of operational experience allow me to share and give back from all of the situations, scenarios and hands-on examples of where you can make a difference as a leader.

Q: How do you revitalize yourself?

MM: Like many outdoor sports enthusiasts, I love to play golf.  I also power-walk 3.5 to 4 miles every morning, five days a week.  However, the most impactful activity for revitalization for me is riding my Harley Road King Classic motorcycle. The intense focus on what you are doing, no cellphone to answer, and the exhilaration of the wind, smells and camaraderie of riding with a group is therapy for me.

Q: What is one piece of advice that you remember most clearly?

MM: "God gave you two ears and one mouth; use proportionately." That always reminds me to listen twice as much as I speak.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement at Baptist Health?

MM: I am not sure I have realized my most outstanding achievement, but I feel very passionate about creating and maintaining a culture of caring for people. Not just our patients we are entrusted with, but all of our 13,000 team members and the members of the community we serve.  As a leader, you are the creator, maintainer and influencer of your organization's culture. At Baptist, our 65 years of a culture of caring is undergirded by our core values. My sense of achievement comes from knowing I am leading our organization in maintaining these values and culture.

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