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December 22, 2021 . Sandy Bielawa

We are Ursa Health: meet Katie Sylvester

Ursa Health Blog

Visit Ursa Health's blog to gain healthcare data analytics insights or to get to know us a little better. Read more ...

What’s your role at Ursa Health, and what do you do?

I’m a technical customer success manager, which means I help our clients utilize Ursa Studio, our analytics development platform, to its fullest potential so they gain the most value from its use. I serve as a conduit to all the groups at Ursa that make that happen, keep things organized, and shepherd projects through all their stages.

Can you share a little about your background?

I have both bachelor and master degrees in business administration and started my career in live events. I served on the executive team at several different venues, focusing on event logistics. It was through event management that I built my leadership skills and honed my ability to quickly solve problems. I found that I really enjoyed not only the logistics and the constant problem-solving that went into that role but helping organizations use their software more effectively. So really I’ve been steeped in data throughout my career, but we were primarily using Excel and some other custom software.

Ultimately, I managed a software build for a client, with my first exposure to SQL and Python. That was an eye-opening experience, seeing what SQL could do to structure and utilize data. One of things I’d always liked about event management was not only the structure to the logistics but the creativity in how you go about achieving your goals. SQL is very similar in that it’s a very structured environment, but there’s still a lot of creativity in how you go about the querying process, knowing what you want and determining how to get it out.

When COVID-19 hit, events were pretty much cancelled, and I needed to shift gears. I’m a life-long learner, so I decided to focus on building my SQL and Python skills through enrollment in the Nashville Software School. That’s where I met Aaron [Mock, Ursa Health’s senior vice president of operations], though his work with the school and our cohort there.

I hear that’s a great program.

I think it was one of the first non-profit boot camps for this type of education, focusing on those pivoting out of other careers and going into tech. They offer web development, data science, and data analytics programs, and are excellent at formatting curriculum for adult learners eager to learn tech, giving them the tools they need, bringing in tech leaders from the community to share their experiences, and helping students network and find jobs. They had their first cohort of students in 2012, which was 14 graduates, and next year that number will hit 2,000.

Why did you decide to work for Ursa Health?

I’d been thinking about going into healthcare because it would be an interesting career where I could have a very real impact on people’s lives. At this stage of my life, I wanted to work for a company that was improving the world, not just offering a commodity—I wanted to make a difference.

Aaron had participated in a few industry panel discussions, and the way he talked about Ursa Health, it really seemed like a good fit. I was matched up with Aaron for mock interview and got to show him some work I’d done at NSS with PowerBI and walk him through my process. He talked about how the challenges I’d faced with the project mirrored the challenges in working with healthcare data, and asked me whether I’d want to face those challenges every day.

It did turn out to be a good fit. Ursa is making an impact, and I’m glad to be on the team and helping to make a difference.

What do you find to be the best part about working with Ursa Health?

My answer is twofold. First, I love working with clients, figuring out how to make their jobs easier and help them make high-impact decisions that trickle down to the patient. It’s incredible knowing that the work we do literally improves the lives of millions of people. And then I enjoy the people I work with. They are brilliant, and we have a very open, collaborative environment where I can learn and grow.

I absolutely love the ability to work remotely, too. Early on, I determined that work-life balance is important at Ursa, and it’s really important to me. It helps me do my job so much better when I’m not burdened by a commute and can be at home. I get more done, I’m more efficient and focused.

What is the one thing people are surprised to learn about you?

I love Broadway show tunes. I love to belt ’em out, just not in front of people. I’m really awful!

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