By Heather Seftel-Kirk
Earlier this year, FedHealthIT announced its Top 100. Nominated and chosen by peers, these individuals have been recognized for driving change and advancement, for their willingness to challenge conventional wisdom, and for giving back to the larger Federal Health IT and Consulting community.
This week we spoke with Barry Dickman, Program Manager, Health IT & Analytics with Battelle about how he used his contracting and leadership experience to drive the direction of health IT within his own organization and across the federal contracting ecosystem. This encompassed using life skills for the greater good, diplomacy, and having an impact, both personally and professionally.
Barry is also Immediate Past-President and Board Member of the HIMSS National Capital Area (HIMSS-NCA) Chapter, Past-President, Board of Directors with the FBI Washington Field Office, Citizens Academy Alumni Association (CAAA), member of the Health Informatics Advisory Board for the Department of Health Administration and Policy at George Mason University, and a frequent guest lecturer at GMU and other institutions.
Children can inspire
Barry says that at least part of his call to service came to him as an adult, and as a parent. He says from the time they were young, he understood that he wanted to instill in his children a sense of giving, with no strings attached. His volunteer efforts with his family began at a local orphanage where the whole family was able to participate and understand the value of giving and the impact it has on those in need.
That early work translated to his work with the FBI Washington Field Office Citizens Academy Alumni Association, where he and his family now help raise money for at-risk youth. This money supports enhanced school curriculums, provides mentorship, and recognizes these young peoples’ successes through performance awards. “The opportunity to create connections for education and mentorship for youth is invaluable. We also work with partner organizations to provide more than 300 Christmas dinners annually.”
He says it is important to understand there are three Ts to giving – time, treasury, and talent. “Starting out I didn’t have a lot of money to give but I did have time to invest. I believe it is important to have an impact, personally and professionally, to give to your community, and to the professional associations that make up your career community.”
Barry says that over time, he has become experienced in several domains, allowing him to bring value to the table, in mentorship opportunities and collaborative efforts with peers on behalf of the industry. His election to several leadership positions attests to the value others see in his contributions.
Talent is more than what you think
The opportunity to offer talent, Barry says, is often misunderstood. “Whatever our current role, whatever our expertise or training, we all have knowledge and life skills that we can contribute. When we focus on our strengths and areas of interest, we find that we can become masters of specific domains. The ability then to share that expertise for a greater good makes you a worthwhile and sought out connection.”
For Dickman, knowledge and life skills has translated to a combination of business acumen – doing what he can to get the job done and done well, backed by a desire to deliver qualitative results – and diplomacy. “I want to be an active contributor, thought leader, and participant. That can mean identifying barriers and challenges and finding a way to broach the white elephant in the room in a tactful way.”
He says he is a big believer in mentoring and coaching – up and down the line – which can require tact and diplomacy, particularly with those in positions of greater influence and experience. It also requires understanding and depth of knowledge to answer the tough questions presented by both mentors and protégés.
Barry says he is often referred to as a connector because, through his volunteer work and various affiliations, he has made numerous friends, and seen the different dimensions of people that can be revealed outside the workplace. “It is often these less known dimensions that people are looking for and knowing people in a different way, in a different setting, allows me to facilitate these connections with those who have developed experience or mastery of specific interests.”
Multi-dimensional is important
Barry says being involved with a variety of things, both professional and personally, is important. “I have done a lot in my healthcare career that brings value to who I am today. I also have my volunteer time with my family and sports as an outlet. It’s important not to focus just on work, to have interests and passions beyond the job.” It is also important to role model those passions to my children, friends, and co-workers.
He says while many believe it is a challenge to manage and balance personal and professional lives, it is a challenge worth tackling. “People need to think about getting involved, what it means to them, how it might benefit them personally and professionally. The answers to these questions will be different for everyone. What they decide to engage in will be equally different but it is all equally worthwhile.”