Career span: 52 years (39 years in healthcare supply chain, 13 years in non-healthcare/retail supply chain
Last title: Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Management, Texas Health Resources
Innovative, leading-edge, pioneering accomplishments befitting a Hall of Fame career:
A number of musical recording artists specializing in various genres applied their own spin to the phrase, “a little bit of this, a little bit of that.” And yet, while vocal artists such as Carolyn Dawn Johnson and D-Mob derived some mileage from it, John Gaida built a career around it that spans more than five decades of supply chain service – perhaps longer than both of those above-listed artists ... together … were alive.
The bulk of Gaida’s healthcare career started in the leadership trenches of hospital materials management and culminated near the C-suite of health system supply chain management with two brief, year-long detours into consulting and dot-com-dom at the turn of the century/millennium. What did Gaida accomplish and achieve that was noteworthy? Plenty.
Prior to his healthcare supply chain career, Gaida spent 13 years in the retail supply chain, serving first as a stocker for Walgreens Co. for the initial four years of his career, 1963-1967, and then for JC Penney Co. for nine years, 1969-1978, where he worked in their management program during college and after graduation, managing roughly half of a large mall retail store before joining the healthcare industry.
Focus on mentoring, education, and/or advocacy to advance other supply chain professionals and executives, and the profession as a whole:
Hallmarks of leadership:
Leadership in Healthcare Organizations
Innovation in practice:
Managing professional relationships and services:
Commitment to ethical and moral standards and integrity:
An executive in a leadership role does not achieve what Gaida has achieved, with others in the industry – providers, suppliers and professional associations, without them recognizing his honesty, integrity, trustworthiness and unflappable ethical principles to carry out his agreed-upon and established roles.
Without exaggeration Gaida practiced the highest of ethical standards in dealing with his employees as well as suppliers. Perhaps there is no greater example of what it meant to Gaida to be “fair to all” than his unwavering commitment to provide a livable wage, decent working conditions, and a chance to create a better life for oneself for the employees of the North Texas Laundry Co-op, which is partially owned by Texas Health Resources. Gaida’s commitment to this group of people was not often seen by those who worked with him on a regular basis; but as the chairman of the board for the last 13 years, he made sure that these workers were compensated fairly and provided the education they would need to succeed in life. Gaida meant so much to this staff that as a retirement gift, laundry management was able to give Gaida what he always wanted – a six-day week for the laundry – allowing every employee to have every Sunday off with their family.
IN HIS OWN WORDS…
What are your impressions about Bellwether League Inc.’s mission and philosophy, and how do you feel about becoming an Honoree?
As many people know, I was lucky enough to be invited to help create Bellwether League and shape it into what it is today. I knew from the very beginning that it was going to be something special and an organization that I would be proud to be associated with over the years. Now being actually inducted into the League, it takes on a whole new meaning. I am honored to be one of those few individuals who are being recognized for shaping an entire industry. It is humbling just to contemplate. It is truly the capstone of my career!
What attracted and motivated you to get involved in the healthcare supply chain management field when you did?
Those of my generation in Supply Chain never really planned on a career in this field. We all have various stories how we ended up where we did. My story is similar. I spent time in the retail sector – enjoyed it and learned much about business basics. But the future didn’t look that bright, so when an associate suggested I look into a healthcare job, I took the risk, and the rest, as they say, is history. The lure of an interesting opportunity and a profession that provided a true benefit to others was appealing – not to mention, I didn’t have to work weekends (as in retailing)!
For what one contribution would you like to be most remembered?
By far, the most rewarding thing for me was to seek out, hire and motivate others into this field. I have always been a strong proponent of mentoring. I have been very fortunate to work with a very talented group of folks over the years. Many of those individuals have gone on to very successful and noteworthy careers of their own in healthcare supply chain. Some went on to become AHRMM Presidents and a few have even been inducted into Bellwether League already!
If you were to encourage someone – either outside of healthcare or just out of school – to enter healthcare supply chain management and strive to be a future Bellwether League Honoree, what would you tell him or her?
I would say the field of healthcare supply chain is still wide open for individuals to be successful. Someone who is willing to work hard, do the basics well, and collaborate with clinicians and physicians can make a significant difference. While the profession has made great strides, there is still much to do to reduce healthcare costs and provide creative solutions to this important segment of patient care. As has always been the case, there is no one solution or answer to the complex puzzle of controlling the resources of an organization to effect a better way to support patient care in our healthcare systems across the country. It has always been a challenge, and I don’t see that ever changing!
What is the one industry challenge you would like to see solved during your lifetime?
While I understand it is inherently human nature to have preferences, surgeon preference for many of those implantables on the market today goes beyond reason. It has always been a struggle for the supply chain profession to break through those barriers to reducing cost. Some have been marginally successful in their endeavor, but as an industry, unexplainable brand loyalty has been a significant roadblock in reducing healthcare costs – all without improvements in patient outcomes. It has been a struggle for the industry to create a system that accurately and without bias enables a fair and consistent way of measuring outcomes by product. It would be a significant achievement to see much of this brand preference dismantled.
What do you feel are some of the things that the healthcare supply chain does that’s right – for the patient, for the organization and for the profession… and why?
I would say that most of the profession is truly interested in supplying those products, equipment and services to their clinical counterparts that improve patient care. They understand they are on the support side of the business and strive to fulfill the needs of those they serve. It has gone from (in the early days) of “just don’t run out,” to anticipating what is needed when/where and in the right quantities at the best price. The profession has had to support the new and various segments of patient care – in settings way outside the acute market – this will continue to evolve over time and be an ever-increasing challenge for supply chain.
In two sentences or less, what defines healthcare supply chain leadership?
Any profession thrives with talented leadership that is hard working and creative, Supply Chain Leadership must be that and more. The ability to serve many masters, be a top-notch negotiator, love what you do and show it, as well as mentoring up-and-coming staff, is a combination of talents that is not only hard to find, but even more difficult to retain.
If you traveled back in time to when you started in healthcare what would you tell yourself?
Be more aggressive! Some would say I was pretty darn aggressive in my career, but I’d say not enough! Challenging the status quo, pushing the envelope for change, and confronting physician/surgeon preference are just a few things that come to mind, as any person gets more confident in what they do and their abilities. But doing so earlier in a person’s career (obviously with finesse), would accelerate positive change along the way and yield greater success.