chief of staff

Client Case Study

Strategic counsel and planning guidance for a growing healthcare-based organization.


Industry: Healthcare management

Headquarters: Washington D.C.

Core challenges: Strategic support for executives due to organizational and industry changes.

We recently branched out into the healthcare industry when a national women’s health organization started utilizing one of our vChiefs at the beginning of 2021. The organization was at a tipping point, having hired a new CEO in fall 2019 who barely got their feet wet when the COVID-19 pandemic hit which, subsequently, required a significant reduction in force. After experiencing so many changes in infrastructure, the organization needed critical support for the CEO in particular, who was already spread too thin and felt like they weren’t getting what they needed from their team. 

As soon as our vChief stepped in, they were tasked with helping the CIO support the case for developing a steering committee that would ensure all of the organization’s digital platforms and footprint were unified. The vChief worked with the CIO on creating a charter, putting a presentation together and getting it approved by the executive team.

At around eight weeks into their chief of staff support, our vChief had started building relationships with all of the executive team, and had been in enough meetings to hear the themes come through. Our vChief put together a presentation for the CEO so they could sit down and go over where certain strategic decisions needed to be made, helping to break the cycle that was happening where the CEO felt like they weren’t getting what they needed from their executive team who, in turn, don’t feel like they’re getting what they need from the CEO. 

Following the presentation to the CEO and after receiving their buy-in, the chief of staff discussed what strategic decisions were needed, put together a plan which prioritized decisions, and now they have been slowly working their way through those decisions. A big part of the work, says the chief of staff, has been teaching the organization about what a chief of staff can do, providing clarity so they begin to realize the tasks they can hand off. 

Since our vChief has stepped in to support this organization, both their CFO and CLO have stepped down, so our vChief has utilized their skills to facilitate the transition to interim staffing. Before the CFO left, our vChief worked with them to create a format to summarize open projects and share their process so that the transition would go a bit more smoothly. Of course, there have still been some fire drill items that have come up around this transition that the chief of staff has helped in mitigating. 

“The chief of staff role has really evolved into what I am proud to say will be a critical position to their organization.” 

The open positions also provided an opportunity for the vChief and CEO to reevaluate the organizational chart and consider whether it makes more sense to repackage both roles under a Chief Administrative Officer position or to maintain individual positions for each of these. What’s really needed and what’s not?

Looking at the bigger picture, there is much work to be done in the growth plan for the organization’s employees and the possibility of revamping titles and ensuring that employees are in the right position. Of course, that is a strategic project that has to be shelved until they can come up for air. 

During all these transitions, our vChief also worked with the CEO and their admin to put a new format together for their weekly meetings, displaying all the open tasks that need to be scheduled, recurring meetings, and items that require pre-planning. “I do think it has helped them finally connect in a way that they’re useful to each other,” says the vChief. 

A big part of the work that our vChief does involves helping the CEO refocus their time. Rather than worrying about so many logistics, the CEO should be out pitching for funding and getting involved in advocacy and governmental events. Over the past six months, the chief of staff has been helping the CEO redefine effectively leveraging their time, a process which will require development over the long term. 

One development that came out of redefining how the CEO can most effectively leverage their time is their realization that they wanted a full-time chief of staff. They were able to recruit and onboard someone the CEO already knew. Because the new chief of staff will be supporting the transition of the CLO, there will be an overlap for several months when both our chief and their chief will be working together, which will hopefully alleviate some of the stress around being understaffed. 

“The chief of staff role has really evolved into what I am proud to say will be a critical position to their organization,” says our vChief. 

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