Meet Elyse Sikora, the Chief Revenue Officer at Zyter|TruCare (ZTC). Apart from being a sales powerhouse and a leader who values diverse input, she thrives as a problem-solver and customer advocate. Elyse has led significant revenue growth at organizations like Google Health and now at Zyter|TruCare.
Stepping Into Healthcare Technology Forges a Path to Zyter|TruCare
Elyse graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 2008, studying political science and communications. She jumped into her career right after graduation, working with Paragon Development Systems as a Health and Sciences Account Manager. She stayed with Paragon for seven years, building deep knowledge of healthcare clients and the industry. “Like so many of us, my first job out of college was not directly tied to what I had studied in undergrad, but it was certainly fortuitous in that I landed in an industry where I have stayed ever since and am extremely passionate about, and that is the industry of healthcare technology.”
Paragon Development Systems is a managed service company for healthcare organizations that delivers physical assets like laptops, servers, and other endpoint devices. While there, Elyse learned about the complexities and hands-on challenges of the healthcare industry from the outside in.
“Once you work with healthcare organizations and you’re inside their walls, you understand why things aren’t always as easy as they may seem to us as patients. I learned much from that particular part of my career – particularly why healthcare is so hard.”
In 2015, Elyse moved to what was then a genuine technical revolution – cloud computing. She joined VVMware, where she applied her relationship skills to software instead of hardware. Soon after that, Google recruited her to join their nascent healthcare division. “At that time, I thought, Hmm, Google, I know they’re doing much in the consumer space, but I work in the enterprise world. Where are they headed?’ I wanted to learn more, but I wasn’t clear on how I would be a relevant part of their organization.”
Google was starting to build an enterprise cloud organization under the Alphabet portfolio and planned to repackage the consumer software assets for corporations. On top of this, they wanted Elyse to help them build a healthcare niche within this offer. This was squarely aligned with Elyse’s expertise and her passion for healthcare. She saw a huge opportunity to deliver solutions to simplify the complexities of healthcare in software and technology.
As one of the pioneers in this new business unit, Elyse helped them build something from scratch that has since positively affected millions of people’s health. “What started as a career-building opportunity eventually turned into a large career opportunity. We went from helping a handful of healthcare organizations scale to being more secure and efficient to helping many companies.” It was an enlightening opportunity for Elyse because she was immersed in both sides of the evolution of a software company, from starting from almost nothing and making a small dent in the healthcare industry to eventually scaling to a significant first-in-class enterprise software business.
After seven years with Google, she met Sanjay Govil, the Chairman and co-founder of Zyter|TruCare. Their initial relationship began as a budding partnership between Google and Zyter. However, the more they worked together, the more interested she became in the “Zyter vision” and the opportunities it held for her.
This meeting wistfully reminded her of her first interactions with a recruiter at Google nearly eight years prior. “After watching the evolution at Google and building a scaled business, it was time to flex a new muscle, and it was time to challenge myself in a new and different way.”
She saw a new place to dig and could see the exact areas where she could be an asset. “I got excited again about the opportunity to build something from small to a very innovative technology solution for the healthcare market.” And that’s what Elyse is working on today in the C-suite.
Embracing Discomfort is the Mantra for Perseverance and Success
Elyse is drawn to discomfort. “I always try and throw myself into situations that I know are different and nuanced because I know that that’s going to allow me to face some adversity and, by doing that, grow,” she says.
This perseverance describes how she confronts new situations. “I refuse to give up. I refuse to fail, and even if I fail by the typical definition of failure, I take something out of it.”
Elyse believes that anyone can step up and succeed in their chosen careers and that a person’s ability to be successful is deeply correlated with how hard they work. “I even tell my 9-year-old daughter all the time; she plays basketball, and she told me, ‘Mom, we didn’t win,’ and I said, ‘Well, did you work harder than everyone else? Never underestimate the correlation between working hard and success.”
The Best Part About Mentorship is New Perspectives
Mentorship has made a massive impact on Elyse over the years, both personally and professionally. She says that her parents, siblings, and especially her brother lend their advice to all parts of her life.
As a mother herself, Elyse thinks back to her mom’s tried-and-true advice. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” She laughs and says it’s terribly cliche, “But I always think of that. It’s so simple. What’s always propelled me and pushed me to confront or step into uncomfortable or new and dynamic situations is something that you perceive as negative might happen. Still, there’s always something positive about it. It just depends on how you reframe the problem.”
This ability to reframe adversity, even when it could mean a poor outcome, gives Elyse confidence in her work. “Let’s make something better out of something that initially may not have been so great,” she says. This ability has followed Elyse into every defining moment of her career.
She is always keen to form close networks of colleagues and friends and bring her well-rounded knowledge from many walks of life. “What I appreciate about a mentor is perspective. I’ve sought out mentor relationships where the individual can provide me with a new perspective for my personal or professional life. I try to take those conversations to heart. My mentors have been invaluable in opening up my eyes to different opportunities and different ways to look at life and work.”
Championing Diversity, Empathy, and Collaboration is Key to Successful Leadership
Elyse’s leadership style is imbued with her values. And she believes that diversity cultivates empathy, empathy encourages collaboration, and collaboration leads to successful teams. “No two people have walked the same path, and that’s going to mean that no two individuals know the same things. And so it’s essential to get a diverse group of individuals together if you want a comprehensive perspective and data set relative to what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Fostering diverse teams also promotes an empathetic workspace where individuals learn better from each other while achieving their goals. “If we don’t understand each other and if we don’t have empathy for each other, then we’re never going to bring our best to whatever the scenario is, whether that’s work or otherwise. So I very fundamentally believe that we need to understand each other to do our best at work,” she says.
Elyse tells us, “When you craft diverse teams where people are listened to through that empathy, you get people to show up at their best.”
To culminate in these three tenets of leadership, Elyse knows that when people in her team go above and beyond to help their peers, “it’s the Holy Grail” of team collaboration. Regardless of how they’re compensated, irrespective of their objectives or KPIs, she instills in her teams the desire to collaborate for the mutual benefit of everyone.
“It’s deceivingly difficult to do that because everyone has different motivations, and so I try and align the motivations of a team so that there is a common understanding that if we’re all going to be successful individually, then we need to be successful as a team. So collaboration, empathy, and diversity are core to that success.”
She leverages patience, a talent she built behind the scenes as a mom of three kids. “I try to be patient while others learn or while confronting or addressing a situation correctly. I aim to approach things with a calm, patient demeanor and empathy. Then, once I gain the respect of those I’m working with, I feel like I can position myself with the right perspective to do whatever we need to do.”
Fostering Authenticity and Autonomous Leadership at Zyter|TruCare
When Elyse started in technology fresh out of college, she was often the youngest and the only woman at the table. She says she learned early on how her perspective could be valuable.
“When you’re that young in the industry, and you’re the diverse one amongst the non-diverse audience, you think, ‘I need to be like everybody else to be successful.’ The reality is that you should be exactly who you are to be successful. And I am successful because I learned to value what was different than everybody else in the room.”
This outlook set her apart and made her an asset. The more she recognized her unique perspective as an asset, the more she embraced her authenticity. At ZTC, this outlook is encouraged, giving Elyse unique opportunities, including sharing her talents with external entities in a way that her former employers did not.
“Zyter|TruCare has provided me a platform to advocate for women in leadership. Whether it’s opportunities to speak with analysts, speak with the press, or build a diverse team. They have allowed me to build my team upon foundational aspects like diversity, collaboration, and empathy. On top of that, Zyter|TruCare gives me the autonomy to be the leader I’ve learned to be throughout my career. And they provide the stage to influence or represent that to more women or future leaders in the industry.”
Elyse’s Advice to Women
Elyse tells us, “Never be afraid to be you. Whether you’re creative, outgoing, goofy, or outspoken, I would challenge women to bring what differentiates them to work. Often people, in general, feel like we have to hide our true selves at work when sometimes that sparkle and shine is exactly what we should be bringing to the table.” This advice follows findings in the Harvard Business Review and some recent studies that show “that people with a robust social network have better job performance, feel more fulfilled, and even live longer.”
“I learned through several of my mentors that to be your best at work, you must be yourself. There will always be skills and traits you can work on, but you’ll never fundamentally change who you are. You’ll always seem uncomfortable in your skin if you’re not authentic. With this in mind, I challenge women to show up as exactly who they are. Work hard. Be champions of other successes and not just your success. In fostering a community of success, a lot of learning goes along with it and mutual benefit.”
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