Healthcare and Business

Physician-leader finds his “it factor” via Berkeley MBA, Adam Tibble, MD, EMBA 17

By Susan Petty

Adam Tibble, MD, EMBA 17, had already proved himself a capable leader before arriving at Berkeley.

As a medical resident, he created an innovative airway device and launched his first startup. As a US Air Force captain, he served two tours in Afghanistan and headed a Critical Care Air Transport Team that evacuated severely wounded soldiers to medical facilities in Germany. As a cardiac anesthesiologist at NorthBay Healthcare in Fairfield, California, he attained the position of director of cardiac anesthesia.

So why would such an accomplished physician pursue a Berkeley MBA?

Simply put, he was in search of his “it factor,” a concept he drew from his pre-med days playing football for the University of Notre Dame.

“I was fascinated by coaches who inspired players to follow them with trust and ferocity,” says Adam, a graduate of the Berkeley MBA for Executives program. “I wanted this ‘it factor’ to help me lead a hospital’s physicians, nurses, and staff, and I believed Berkeley could help me find and develop mine.” Today at age 39 in addition to his director role, Adam serves as NorthBay’s vice chief of staff and as a partner in a promising new medical startup. His time in the Berkeley MBA program helped him gain the business skills, language, and inspiration needed to transform his leadership style and his corner of the healthcare market.

Finding “It”

Courses in finance and data science expanded Adam’s knowledge base and business vocabulary. “In planning meetings, I can now say a term like ‘customer lifetime value’ and it turns some heads. They realize this doctor might actually understand what they’re talking about.”

But it was his training in soft skills such as leadership communication that triggered his ‘it factor.’

The Leadership Communications Immersion Week led by Professor Mark Rittenberg unleashed Adam’s storytelling ability including how and when to express emotion. It has changed the way he leads meetings, shares patient stories, and talks with fellow medical staff. Adam now makes things more interactive so people actually look forward to “Dr. Tibble” meetings.

Executive Leadership, taught by Professor Jennifer Chatman, revealed how to frame his organization’s inspirational story. He uses that framework to motivate others and to position NorthBay strategically in a competitive market.

“It’s simple, really. You tell people what is wrong, what challenges you face, and then you follow up with, but here’s who we are and what we can do,” he says.

Getting inspired

Adam Tibble, MD, EMBA 17His own inspirational story emerged during his Entrepreneurship and Innovation Week when he attended a talk by Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, MBA 86. Adams likened successful entrepreneurship to riding horseback through a dark forest while shooting arrows at targets. Although difficult to do, sooner or later, you will hit one.

The metaphor resonated with Adam, who had already seen two of his startup efforts fizzle. The cartoonist’s story reminded him that people rarely succeed on their first, second, or even third tries. So he decided to keep shooting his arrows.

While still in the MBA program, he launched a clinic to treat patients using ketamine, a battlefield anesthetic that is also used in cardiac anesthesiology. Adam’s clinic, however, would use ketamine to help those with depression, PTSD, and other mental health disorders—an off-label use that recent research indicated could prove more effective than conventional treatments.

Unfortunately, his business partner moved out of state and that venture, too, ended.

Going the distance

Adam recently decided to try again and opened the Klarity Clinic of Northern California. Applying lessons learned at Haas, his new venture offers both ketamine infusions and cosmetic treatments such as Botox injections and laser hair removal. The latter helps to keep the business solvent, and also funds the discounted ketamine treatments the clinic offers veterans and others who may not be able to afford them.

Adam dreams of contributing even more to healthcare and the greater good. The Berkeley MBA program, he says, helped position him for that goal.

“It showed people at my hospital that I was invested in leadership,” he says. “I was tapped to be a credentials chairperson. That evolved into the vice chief of staff role. I believe the MBA program caused these opportunities to come much earlier in my career than they would have otherwise.”

Ready to find your “it” factor? Explore how to supercharge your leadership skills in the Berkeley MBA for Executives.

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Topics: Leadership  |   MBA for Execs  |   Career
Susan Petty
Susan is Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. She has nearly twenty years of experience in marketing and advertising, having worked in several different industries including technology, travel, healthcare -- and many others from her media planning days at J. Walter Thompson where her clients included Chevron, Kaiser Permanente, Nestle, and Ford. She enjoys advising prospective students and guiding them through their personal MBA experience.