Emily Tyson grew up in Alabama before attending Washington and Lee University, a liberal arts school in Lexington, Virginia. It was a great fit for her in terms of the academics, but it was two core values which were the main attraction. First, there’s a strong honor code, which placed a lot of trust on the students. It pushed everyone to be good and honest students. Second, there’s a speaking tradition, which means you should say hello to someone as you are passing by. These values demonstrated that she would be part of a core community that cares for one another and it would be the building blocks for what she values in terms of success in business and her career.
Tyson never envisioned herself as a Wall Street type, but she hit a point in her career where it made sense to push herself out of her comfort zone and be in the financial capital of the world. She moved from the south to New York City, where she worked for Merrill Lynch on leveraged buyouts mainly in the healthcare industry.
Looking for her next challenge, Tyson decided to move to Hong Kong without a job lined up. It was an experience of a lifetime. A bold and risky move given that it was 2008 and the financial meltdown was about to happen. She gave herself a certain amount of runway to find a job and in her mind, the worst case scenario was that she would experience a new country for a stretch of time. She landed at GE Capital, where she helped build out its leveraged buyout desk for Asia.
It was an interesting time, as the market in Asia was just emerging. She had the opportunity to work on a number of deals across multiple countries, but ultimately, she missed working in the healthcare industry.
Tyson came back to the US to attend business school. She ultimately chose Harvard Business School, but not just because it is one of the best b-schools in the country. It was their use of case method for teaching, which would (again) take her out of her comfort zone. A personality trait that she wanted to improve upon was being more vocal about her opinions. At HBS, it forced her to speak up in front of her peers and gain that voice.
As she was thinking about her next career move and where she could add the most value, she connected with Curaspan (recently acquired by naviHealth). Instantly it felt like the right place for her, as she had a great deal of respect and appreciation for the founders of the company and what they had built.
naviHealth manages the post-acute care process, meaning the information exchange and collaboration between healthcare providers and the transition of care for patients. The company was solving a massive problem and it was a place where she could really make an impact by helping to improve the quality of care and lowering costs.
As VP, Product at naviHealth, Tyson manages a 21 person team which is focused on driving the strategic direction of the company’s products and solutions forward. There’s a lot of complexities around its products with multiple pieces to the platform across data, reporting, analytics, and workflow applications.
Tyson is excited about the growth across the company, along with the expansion of the product team, as she is hiring for multiple product roles within the company. “I’m looking for people who want to drive something,” said Tyson. “Although healthcare industry experience is a plus, it is not necessary. It’s more important that they have a passion and interest in the industry.”
Rapid Fire Q&A
Keith Cline: What time do you get to the office? What time do you leave?
Emily Tyson: I typically arrive a little before 8am to give myself a few extra minutes to ease into the day. My departure time varies but most often around 6pm.
KC: Coffee or tea? How many cups per day?
ET: Coffee. At least one but not more than three.
KC: Tell me about your morning routine before you leave the house.
ET: Ideally, I throw on gym clothes and head out. More often than I like to admit, though, I skip the gym for a later alarm, quick shower, and coffee stop on my way to work.
KC: Once you get to the office, what do you tackle first?
ET: Each evening I identify my #1 priority task to do the next day, and I allocate the first 30 mins – 1 hour of my day to that specific task. I may not complete it in that first portion of the day, but it helps ensure I stay on track.
KC: What helps you focus?
ET: Very specific goals – I’ve learned to keep a more task (rather than project) oriented “to do” list so I know exactly what I need to accomplish and how tactically to move each initiative forward.
KC: How do you organize your day to stay productive? Do you have any hacks?
ET: I’m always open to new ideas here. Lately I’ve been trying two things:
1) Carving out specific time for emails (2-3 times a day rather than constantly checking my inbox). It keeps me from letting my inbox control my day, and people still know how to contact me for anything urgent or time sensitive.
2) Creating mental “timeouts” – Time feels like my most scarce resource these days. To avoid stress (which is a distraction in and of itself) over a too-busy schedule, I try to plan a few moments of slack throughout the day to give my brain a chance to refresh and refocus. It could be catching up with coworkers, grabbing a cup of coffee, or just perusing news articles. These small breaks help me stay energized and engaged throughout the day, ultimately increasing my productivity.
KC: Where are you most productive? (ie: at home, in the office, at a coffee shop, on a plane, etc.)
ET: Depends on the activity, but I often accomplish a lot during flights. When you travel as often as I do, you learn to make good use of the time!
KC: When you’re heads down, do you listen to music or like to keep it quiet?
ET: If I’m working alone, classical music keeps me entertained without creating a distraction.
KC: How do you deal with stress?
ET: SoulCycle and Shake Shack. Some might call it contradictory, but I prefer to think of it as balance.
KC: Are you a written note taker or do you use an app or something else?
ET: Written notes. I remember more when I write it down, and writing forces a focus on more critical information rather than trying to capture everything.