Board Member Spotlight
Director, Health Care Practice, West Monroe Partners
Kim Perry is Director, Health Care Practice with West Monroe Partners, where she is responsible for building the Minneapolis Health Care practice. Applying deep health care experience and business process optimization expertise, she partners with payers, health care systems, and life sciences organizations to drive business transformation through the enablement of technology. Kim joined West Monroe in 2016 from Xerox Corporation, where she was a vice president of sales for the Health Care Payer and Pharma practices.
What role(s) do you currently hold with the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST?
I want to give back to the mission of the TRUST. I’ve served on the Board for the last two years and chair the Strategic Growth and Marketing Committee. I believe women can accelerate the transformation in health care and there is a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with the diverse women in the TRUST. I hope to influence change and connect women in the TRUST to make a difference.
Do you have a favorite TRUST memory so far?
My favorite memories are watching new members experience the power of this network. I recently connected with a past TRUST president who has been living in another city for the last six years. Someone outside of the TRUST introduced us and we found our common bond and reflected on our shared experiences. I was grateful to help her acclimate back to the Twin Cities and she is a tremendous sounding board for my work with community health centers.
Have you ever had a mentor? How did he/she help you most?
While I have never had a formal mentor (singular), I do maintain a career “board of advisors,” five or six people whom I respect personally and professionally and can call upon when I need to think through professional challenges or questions. They — some men and some women — help me gain clarity, give me confidence, and push me when I get too comfortable or too nervous.
Why did you join the TRUST? What keeps you involved as a TRUST member?
For nearly 15 years, I worked for Xerox, whose name recognition was enough to open doors. In 2016, I made a significant career change to join West Monroe and build a new health care practice in Minneapolis, where our local name recognition was still low. I recognized that I would need to broaden my professional network, so I joined a few selected professional organizations, including the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST.
Through the TRUST, I am able to devote time to a cause that is very important to me: building the next generation of women leaders. That wasn’t always something I thought about, but shortly after I joined West Monroe, the firm asked me to attend a “women in leadership” luncheon. One of the panelists was Corie Barry, now CEO of Best Buy. The moderator asked why she was there, and her answer was something to the effect of, “My first reaction is because you asked me to, but after thinking about it, I have a young daughter, and I don’t want her to make the same sacrifices I’ve had to make to reach this point of my career.” As a mother, that response hit me like a ton of bricks. Back at work, I talked with other women about the challenges of advancing as leaders, and the flame ignited.
What is the best career advice you’ve received?
Don’t get too comfortable and, along with that, be willing to let others push you out of your comfort zone. At Xerox, I was asked to move into a new role every two years or so. I’d say, “I’m not ready” or “I need to learn more.” The response was always, “Keep stretching. You will grow into it.” And I did. Without people pushing me to be consistently uncomfortable, I would not have realized the career success that I have.
What support do you need now to evolve as a leader?
I need to fill gaps in knowledge. I want to complement my extensive sales management experience with more knowledge about finance, operations, marketing and other business functions that are relevant to the work we do with clients. Similarly, my previous role was focused on the health care payer market, but now I am also working with organizations in the life sciences, dental and provider sectors, which have different operating models and challenges. Even the consulting profession is very different than selling a product, so I learn from my colleagues.
As you move into leadership roles, there is a tendency to want to portray yourself as having all the answers. I believe is okay to be vulnerable and transparent enough to ask for help when you need it.
How do you want to support other women in their leadership journey?
I want to help women grow in their careers, while also being able to balance professional success with their personal lives. There are many accomplished women from whom we can take “academic” lessons about how to advance in our careers. I am more interested in helping women tackle the personal side of balancing it all. It is challenging when someone doesn’t have a role model who can demonstrate what that looks like. I want to be that role model, even if I know I don’t always do it flawlessly. Really, who does?
How do you cope with demanding aspects of your career?
I like to be challenged and enjoy solving very complex problems. What I find most challenging is the balance of my personal and professional life. I have chosen a demanding career as well as a very full personal life with a husband and three young kids (and don’t forget the two dogs and four fish!). My aging parents are close by and my only sibling lives overseas. I want to be there for everyone and participate in all life stages. I cope by giving myself grace. Life is certainly messy and to try to achieve perfection is not possible. I accept that my home is not always clean, my kids often miss a practice, my mom doesn’t get to “lunch” with me as often as she would like. But I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished and that I am an example to my children.
How do you incorporate wellness into your day?
Exercise is my stress relief. I get up before everyone is awake to work out and enjoy a quiet cup of coffee before the house explodes into our morning routine. I’m a big advocate of self-care and I do not feel guilty carving out time. I know if I’m not at my best, I can’t give to everyone else.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by those who devote their time and skills to making a difference in underserved communities. My lens happens to be in health care, where there are so many challenges and so many people with lack of access. As a board chair for a Federally Qualified Health Clinic whose patients are on Medicaid or uninsured, I see the selfless work of employees and volunteers who are committed to helping those who need it most. I aspire to carve more time from my life, at some point, to do the same.
What is something that not many people know about you?
I don’t cook or enjoy “working” in the kitchen. I push myself to do extreme things. I am afraid of heights but went on a hot air balloon ride — and I enjoyed it! I have also run four marathons.
Any words of wisdom to live by?
Always strive to be your authentic self. When you are younger, it is harder to find and be that person. But as you do, you will come to find that you are happier and that people relate better to you. Also, acknowledge your shortcomings. Everyone has them, so embrace your opportunities to improve.