By South Florida Hospital News, for ACHE of South Florida
Peter Christiaans is quick to point out that ACHE – the American College of Healthcare Executives – is not what one might expect by looking at its name. “As you look at the broad membership, you’ll see that it is not just all hospital administrators; it’s quite diverse. It extends to vendors, suppliers and other industries that have touchpoints in healthcare and have an interest professionally to improve the field.” To realize the truth of that statement, one just has to examine Christiaans’ professional background.
Christiaans is a director at Huron Consulting Group, a management consulting firm that offers services to multiple industries, including healthcare, life sciences, commercial, and higher education. “I’ve been consulting since college,” he said, commenting that his previous experience included working at the Big Four: Arthur Andersen, KPMG, and Deloitte. Christiaans stated that all of it had been consulting work in different industries doing different tasks, “but the commonality that ties them all together is that I’ve been in what’s called the ERP – or enterprise resource planning – state. What that means is that for most of my career I’ve worked with different clients to implement software for their human capital, their financials, and their supply chain.”
With consulting as his background, why was Christiaans interested in joining ACHE? He explained that when he was in college, he completed his MBA in healthcare administration at the University of Miami. “I did a fair amount of work while I was going through graduate school in different departments at the University of Miami’s Medical Campus. The administrator for the Mailman Center for Child Development where I was working at the time was a member of ACHE. He was a fellow and he introduced me to the organization.”
Christiaans admitted he fell away from the association for a while after joining as a student, but said, “I reactivated my membership about five years ago, and I’m very happy I did.” He acknowledged that ACHE is a wonderful organization, saying it has always been a great opportunity, “not just for me personally but for others as well to network and bridge connections with folks in healthcare space.”
With his consulting background, Christiaans said healthcare has always been an industry at the top of his mind, and he decided to start pursuing a fellowship with ACHE and is in the process of doing that now. With considerable board experience in his background, and a willingness to volunteer his time, he applied for a position on the South Florida Chapter board, offering to help in whatever way he could. The result was being asked to serve first as sponsorship chair-elect, and now as sponsorship chair. He said, “My role is to bridge those connections with vendors and providers in healthcare that might have a benefit in sponsoring ACHE. And it’s a two-way street, with ACHE also providing benefits for our sponsors in terms of bridging connections with other members, to get the word out about what these services are that our sponsors provide.”
In addition, while saying that he doesn’t have a lot of time, he said, “I see enormous value in making sure that the organization is in good health and that we broaden our membership.”
Christiaans said he would absolutely encourage others to join ACHE – for many reasons. “Whether they’re students who are getting their foot in the door with the organization, all the way through to senior executives and CEOs of hospitals, care providers, or pharmaceuticals: it benefits anyone in the healthcare space to be part of the organization because it does represent a group that touches so many healthcare interests and perspectives. Most of the senior leadership in hospitals is in some way involved with ACHE, and if they’re not, they should certainly consider joining.”