Cejka Search Assists Iowa Clinic in CEO Search

This renowned hospital and healthcare group wanted someone who knew how to lead a team that put patients first. The right choice would be a relationship builder with a servant leader approach, an entrepreneurial spirit and the agility to navigate these demanding times. Cejka’s Mark Madden found the ideal choice in Ben Vallier. Let’s go inside the search. 

July 6, 2020 – Cejka Search has placed Ben Vallier as the new CEO of the Iowa Clinic. He succeeds Ed Brown, who helped found the clinic in 1994 and led the organization for more than 25 years before announcing his plans to step down from the top job last September. The assignment was led by Mark Madden, the recruitment firm’s executive vice president and managing principal.

With more than 100 initial prospects, the field was narrowed to a group of five candidates who interviewed with the board’s search committee. Then three finalists were brought to the Iowa Clinic in West Des Moines to interview with key stakeholders, including the organization’s leadership, physicians and employees.

“Coming off of the retirement of a tenured and highly regarded predecessor, the Iowa Clinic placed significant value on securing a candidate with success in leading a patient-first organization, a relationship builder with a servant leader approach and an entrepreneurial spirit,” Mr. Madden said. “With the search taking place during the COVID-19 crisis, the organization also placed a great deal of emphasis on engaging an agile CEO with a proven ability to lead through change and to serve as a visionary strategist.”

“Ben brings a tremendous amount of foundational experience to the role, having served as chief operating officer of a larger physician-owned multi-specialty group practice as well as the CEO of a physician-owned multi-specialty group practice with more than 100 providers,” said Mr. Madden. “He has a strong leadership EQ, and has demonstrated an ability to build strong relationships, external alliances, and credibility with a variety of stakeholders. Ben has the progressive vision and focus on high quality care and patient experience that will prove valuable as he leads the Iowa Clinic into the future.”

For the past five years, Mr. Vallier has served as CEO of Jefferson City Medical Group, a physician-owned, independent medical practice with 115 providers in 13 locations. He is an active member in his community and recently served on boards for Stratum Med Inc., Stratum Med ACO and the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce, and remains highly engaged with the United Way of Greater Missouri and Medical Group Management Association.

“After an extensive search, the board is fortunate to have found someone as outstanding as Ben to lead the Iowa Clinic,” said Jason Mohr, a pulmonary and critical care physician and co-chair elect of the Iowa Clinic’s board of directors. “Ben has the vision and leadership qualities that allow him to build trusting relationships inside our organization, but also out in the community,” said Dr. Mohr. “He’s dedicated to building a strong network of partnerships and will build positivity, trust and strength to our organization. His experience in a physician-owned medical group with a focus on patient-centered care aligns with the core of who we are as the Iowa Clinic.”

Related: Leadership Development Pays Off in Times of Crisis

Founded in 1994, the Iowa Clinic is a progressive independent medical group consisting of more than 250 physicians and healthcare providers, with over 40 specialties serving patients at eight locations throughout the greater Des Moines region. The Iowa Clinic is the largest physician governed, physician run and patient focused multispecialty group in Central Iowa and is recognized for providing the highest quality, personalized care to its patients.

Current Demand for Healthcare Leaders

The escalation of the COVID-19 crisis has required recruiters to be both more responsive to and more sensitive of the needs of clients and the obligations to candidates. “At Cejka Search, our executive search teams quickly shifted gears to focus on balancing the importance of keeping the recruitment process for critical leadership roles moving forward, while helping our clients manage their calendars and communications, and fill in the gaps where client team members just don’t have the bandwidth during this challenging time,” Paul Esselman, managing director and president of Cejka Search,” said in recent issue of Executive Search Review.

“While the world has changed, the demand for healthcare leaders remains high,” said Mr. Madden. “The focus now is on assessing leaders as they’ve responded to the historic changes in the industry, and seeking leaders that have proven themselves able to successfully lead their organizations through the immense challenges of the pandemic as well as other changes in the industry.”

“Additionally, leaders with an understanding of both the technology behind and the application of telehealth moving forward are at an advantage as telehealth services become more prominent in the industry,” Mr. Madden said.

Related: Conducting Executive Searches During a Pandemic

“We’ve had great success in physician group leadership, and have most recently placed a new chief executive officer at SLUCare Physician Group in St. Louis,” said Mr. Madden. “We’ve also placed CEOs at the Oregon Clinic in Portland, Oregon and Oregon Medical Group in Eugene, Oregon, as well a CMO at Beaver Medical Group in Banning, CA and the COO at Summit Medical Group in Knoxville, TN.”

Healthcare Recruiters

Cejka Search, based in St. Louis, has provided recruiting services exclusively to the healthcare industry for more than 35 years. Its client roster includes Georgetown University Hospital, Northwestern Memorial, Levine Cancer Institute, St. John Providence Health System, Tenet, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, Centene Corp., Cape Fear Valley Health and Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center.

Virtual Recruitment: How to Hire From a Distance
Have you hired someone without ever meeting face-to-face? With COVID-19, businesses can’t recruit the same way they once did — but that doesn’t mean they can’t find the best candidates for the job now. In fact, Comhar Partners recently concluded an executive search that was conducted completely virtually using Zoom, the video conferencing tool, and the person’s first day will be the first time the individual will have gone on-site or met a board member or the management team.

The firm has conducted searches for an array of roles, including chief medical information officer, chief compliance officer, chief of oncology, chief medical officer, chief of pediatrics, chief of neurology, chief nursing officer, CEO, CFO, COO, department chair, chief clinical officer, medical director and chief strategy officer.

Mr. Madden, who joined Cejka Search last year, leads executive search services for senior healthcare executive positions. He has extensive experience leading board search committees in executive recruitment, leveraging his expertise in leadership assessment and evaluation as well as his thorough understanding of the complex issues facing healthcare leaders. With more than 25 years of experience, Mr. Madden provides expertise in healthcare recruitment for C-suite executives, physician executives, medical group practices and senior services administrators. Previously, Mr. Madden spent more than seven years with B.E. Smith serving as senior vice president of executive search. Prior to that, he was vice president of integrated healthcare strategies, a role he held for 17 years.

Mr. Madden has worked closely with boards, search committees, senior-level executives and physicians. His search engagements have included C-suite positions for large multi-site, integrated and tertiary health systems, as well as smaller community hospitals and medical group practices.

“Mark brings a strong track record of partnering with organizations, boards and search committees to achieve successful search outcomes as well as build lasting relationships,” said Mr. Esselman at the time of Mr. Madden’s hiring. “We are excited about the added depth his experience and expertise will bring to our already accomplished executive search team.”

Related: The COVID-19 Impact on Executive Search

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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