August 20, 2020

Jessica Duke: Insight on Health Tech

Nicie Phillips  /  interview

Leadership Technology Profile on resident of Beaufort Digital Corridor, Jessica Duke

Jessica Duke, healthcare technology manager, works for Huron based out of Chicago, IL. Huron is a global consulting firm that collaborates with clients to drive strategic growth, ignite innovation, and navigate change. Jessica joined the healthcare business two and half years ago.

Where did you grow up?

I am a true Beaufortonian. I was raised in Beaufort and actually was born at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. I grew up running the streets of Mossy Oaks and graduated from Beaufort High School. When attending Beaufort High, I preformed often with the Beaufort High Theatre Department. On stage, I blossomed as a person and truly discovered my own personality. I gained strength and communication skills playing different characters.

What is your most memorable first job? What did you learn from it?

Fresh out of high school, I worked as an intern for the Arts Council of Beaufort where I had my first experiences with project management. During my internship, artists from around the country would arrive to practice and display their crafts. The executive director would assign me projects and tasks to complete. The whole experience was eye opening for this Beaufort girl.

In your own words what does your company do?

I am part of Huron's healthcare technology services group. My team and I design and implement technology solutions for our clients. Within the healthcare technology services group, different teams provide hospitals and clinics with different technology solutions focused on optimization and improvement. Our clients range from small rural hospitals or clinics to large academic health centers and hospital systems.

What drew you to this company?

Well, that is an interesting story. I was encouraged by my mentor to update by LinkedIn page with my current job experience. Shortly after, I received a private message from a recruiter at Huron. I did not think I was interested because I was not sure what consulting was. But then I thought, every door opens for a reason. I responded to the recruiter and everything flowed organically from there. The next thing I knew I was on an airplane to Chicago. It was a great opportunity that I could not deny.

How would you describe your company's culture?

Huron is an organization that believes in collaboration amongst its employees. One of the things I love about Huron is its culture. They believe in the key points of integrity, encouraging intellectual curiosity and facilitating continuing education. Even during COVID, the culture at Huron has not changed. The collaborative approach continues to be re-iterated through the stay-at-home orders and migrating to virtual meeting spaces. Huron has provided me the tools and resources to get through some of the toughest days.

What is your management style?

The technical term would be transformational. Transformational leaders work with teams to identify change, drive with vision, and equally work with team members. When working with my current team, I like to have open communication and encourage transparency. I have regular meetings to make sure we are all on the same page. I value my team's input. I think that is the way Huron approaches all projects. That is certainly how I feel when I am on a project with another leader. My company has also challenged me to grow in my management skills.

What lessons have you learned from good bosses?

Donna McHale, my current leader, has provided me an opportunity to grow in my position. She fully trusts my abilities. She has taught me how to be a constructive communicator and best of all, how to delegate! I am one of those people who thinks I need to do everything myself. I am learning to delegate. I am not there yet, but I am trying to learn.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in business?

At the end of the day, I need to step away and have personal time. Work/life balance is a difficult concept for me as an overachiever. The good thing is that Huron supports and encourages this. With COVID creating the "new normal" of working from home and not traveling, it is very easy to work 14- or 16-hour days. Therefore, burn out is still inevitable for remote workers. Work/life balance is a huge component and a hard lesson to learn. It has been one the most important lessons I have learned as a healthcare consultant. One factor that has enabled my work/life balance was the office at the Beaufort Digital Corridor (BDC). During COVID, I was able to continue to virtually meet with clients in a safe and still effective space. When my workday is completed, I can securely walk away from my workday. The atmosphere at the BDC also supports the technology growth. Kudos to Councilmen Stephen Murray for telling me about the opportunities at BDC!

What is your morning routine?

I typically get up at 4:40am and walk with my dear friend, Kristin. Kristin and I walk through the Old Point and over the Woods Memorial Bridge. This is my time to jump start my brain and to hear the latest Beaufort News. Next is my first cup of coffee and prepping for work. Then, I drive about a mile to the BDC and log in to my computer by 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. It is important for me to have quiet time prior to starting my day and get organized before other people start flooding my inbox.

What advice would you give to new graduates seeking to work in the health tech industry?

I recommend having a well-rounded knowledge base. It is important to not limit yourself to one technology. I often see others that limit their expertise. Always seek out additional knowledge. Do not be afraid to expand into other fields. For me, having both the clinical components and technical perspectives have been useful in these fields. Also, I encourage new graduates to not just be a leader in their field but a doer. It is equally important to be versatile and a contributor as a team member.

What is your biggest pet peeve amongst colleagues?

My biggest pet peeve is when people do not actively listen during conversations. When I am having a conversation or bouncing ideas back and forth, the other person needs to be actively listening. Good listening skills are imperative to business and the healthcare field. If you can learn the skill of listening, I think you can do anything.

How do you juggle your responsibilities?

Lists! We have been very busy lately, so I make to-do lists daily. During the early morning time I make a to-do list and start checking things off throughout the day. I also keep a good calendar to make sure I am well organized. I block out times for quiet time, meeting times and constructive work time. Oh yeah, as my leader keeps telling me, delegate! I am still working on that though.

What person has been the biggest influence on your business life?

Donna McHale is a senior director in our healthcare technology group and has been in the industry for many years. She has been my manager for the last year and has steered me in the right direction. She has been my biggest champion and coach. She has taught me how to grow in the market and expand in my career.

What inspires you?

Success inspires me! As I said before, I am an overachiever and I always am striving for more. I want to be successful. I think a lot about how my accomplishments can impact my family, my community, Huron, and the healthcare industry. This is what inspires me to succeed.

Mac or PC?

PC for business and I am a Mac girl in my personal life.

What is your favorite movie?

The Goonies. I am an 80's kid!

What is your favorite go to restaurant/order?

Breakwater is my go-to. I have a thing for their calamari and the pimento cheeseburger.

Outside work, what keeps you busy?

Family, friends, and food. Being from Beaufort, I like anything on the water, the river, the pool.