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Kaile Zagger | CEO of MAT Foundation | Private Equity Advisor | Board Member

Kaile Zagger: Global Leader Driving Disruption and Transformation in Healthcare

The pandemic revealed the importance of interoperability in healthcare. Healthcare as been undergoing a much needed and necessary transformation for many years, but has come to a critical juncture where steps must be taken in order to sustain the system. Lives are shortened by mis-diagnosis or no diagnosis and many of these can be saved through a stronger digital foundation in which facilitating communication and handling complex analytics to ensure better outcomes, efficacy and equity. Millions of lives are lost to cancer every year; the late diagnosis of cancer contributes to half of these losses. The delay in the treatment increases the risks involved, minimizing the chances of survival. Globally, health systems have problems with cancer treatment delays, and several studies can shed light on the statistics of various cancer-associated with an increase in the risk of death.

Kaile Zagger is highlighted today and joins us to share her knowledge and experience in her highly successful 20+ healthcare career. She has spent years spanning the healthcare spectrum care areas and deeply advocates for transformation, preventative medicine and personalized care, particularly for women, who tend to fall through the cracks of the system due to their benign presentation of symptoms. Kaile has held numerous global leadership positions amongst Fortune 50 companies, has successfully transformed many healthcare verticals and built global business divisions that delivered life saving technologies and improved care. Additionally, she is the Co-Founder and CEO of a non-profit, whose mission is to prevent gynecological disease through the education of the non-gynecological and non-oncological physicians. Kaile is currently the Chief Operating Officer of a publicly traded womens health company, is an active Board Member and advises the private equity community to ensure life saving technologies find their way to patients. She has been revered by her peers as a world class leader and a warrior for women.

Serving for more than 20 years in the healthcare sector, Kalie, with her transformational leadership, has facilitated and witnessed numerous transformational discoveries to help and boost the industry, achieving several feats on the way.

The Steady Rise

At the tender age of 13, Kaile found out about her mother being diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. Despite suffering from cancer, Kaile’s mother pushed her to excel in her studies and helped to finetune her tennis skills. Every effort and hard work paid off, as Kaile landed a position at university on a Division 1 tennis team.  Unfortunately, her mother could never see the fruition of the confidence she entrusted Kaile with, losing the battle against ovarian cancer at 46. Kaile expresses, “The world lost one of the greats the day she passed. She was well loved and a true gift to the world. She was far too young to die and her death never should have happened. The signs and symptoms were present for 2+ years before diagnosis,” and considered it as another needless ovarian cancer death due to late-stage diagnosis, which is, to this day, still too common.

Kaile’s journey from that point onwards became more challenging as she lumbered with lessened support from family and financial sources. Fighting her way through university, handling multiple part-time jobs, Kaile studied hard and landed her first position in General Electric’s Global Leadership Development Program, designed to build and foster the next generation of business leaders. Under the invaluable tutelage of Jack Welch, she gained an incredible experience, graduating with honors, and a Black Belt in Six Sigma. She had a firm desire to significantly impact the healthcare system, which she knew too well and believed was highly fragmented and broken.

Initiating her healthcare career in electrophysiology, Kaile worked as a pacemaker sales representative. She had a fantastic fortune to work in several care areas spanning from neuromodulation, robotics, diagnostic imaging, and informatics to early detection cancer diagnostics. Over the last two decades, Kaile has worked for several Fortune 500 companies, including St. Jude Medical, Intuitive Surgical, and General Electric Healthcare. Kaile further co-founded and served as the CEO of a nonprofit foundation, MAT Designation, fostering early detection of ovarian cancer.

After joining Aspira in 2020, Kaile’s fierce commitment to prevention, early detection, and mitigation of late-stage diagnosis of this malignancy got stronger. Kaile is regarded as a transformational leader and builder, which harkens back to the skills she acquired through the hardships that began when she was 13. As a people-centric leader, she believes in the power of a team and the artistic approach to constructing world-class teams. She mentions, “Loving the transformation work is not an easy passion for embracing. You are cast as an agent of change, a disruptor, and sit forever in a highly challenging position. Yet the rewards are so high and I love the work.” Kaile believes that healthcare doesn’t have enough leaders brave enough to stand apart and take initiatives that are often difficult, tedious, frequently politically challenging, and require extreme levels of fortitude but are necessary.

Kaile states that the healthcare system is riddled with unnecessarily high costs, packed with products that lack market value, and structured vertically, negatively impacting patient care. She says, “We all have much work to do to get to where we need to be. It can only be achieved through courageous leadership that clearly carves an effective path forward and, ultimately, radically changes the way healthcare is delivered in the future. These are changes that will result in optimal healthcare for all of us.”

The Transformational Impact

Kaile notes that history is full of great transformational stories such as American Express, Apple, and Wipro, and also of the failed transformation and progression of Blackberry, Yahoo, and JC Penney, to name a few. She loves change management, transformation, and builds, as she grew up facing challenges and understands why and how, at times, one needs to evolve and dig in to be determined to progress.

To see the results of overtaking a failing situation and making it work is a dream brought to reality or an acceleration never thought possible excites Kaile. She expresses that it takes much hard work, and most people don’t enjoy this process as it is much more complex than the jobs in which you are tasked with growing at 10% or just marginally improving profitability. Kaile was fostered in an environment that made her face challenges, being the primary reason she loves taking on challenging projects and aligning with powerful teams to make a change and reach new heights. For more than 20 years, Kaile’s love has increased for transformational work that can offer to companies, society, and ultimately, the patients.

Better than Found

Kaile is heavily focused on her mission, committing to making a difference, impacting healthcare, particularly women. She wants to leave this world a better place for her children and the next generations to come. Abolishing inequities across race, gender, and socioeconomic status drives and fuels her passion for making a significant change. Kaile refuses to accept the status quo prevalent in these areas of inequity. She believes that the healthcare sector must make definitive progress. She asserts, “On the positive side, the world is where it is because of incredible innovation and change agents. However, on the negative side, the world is where it is, unfortunately, because of the continued acceptance of mediocracy and an unwillingness to stand for change.”

Kaile hopes to achieve a fluid healthcare system – one that is structured horizontally rather than vertically, thereby establishing a system in which the patient is truly at the center of care. The decentralized healthcare system design has many misdiagnoses and far too many late-stage disease diagnoses. She understands that some progress has been made, it is most certainly not enough. Inadequate and ineffective testing must be eliminated. The cost must be taken out, investing in areas that will significantly impact people’s lives. A digital health transformation is required and essential for humankind’s success.

Another vital area that Kaile is highly focused on centers on women and girls. She says, “Women and girls around the world continue to experience significant progress in terms of educational, employment, networking, and mentoring opportunities.” Although the Pandemic has accelerated digital platforms for learning, earning, and connecting, it also has highlighted gender disparities, similar to the inequities observed in education and healthcare. Nearly 1 in 4 girls aged between 15-19 globally are not involved in education, equitable employment, or training compared to 1 in 10 boys. Adolescent girls have the right to be safe, educated, and healthy in these critical and formative years and as they mature into women. Empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development.

Bequeathing Next Generation of Healthcare Leaders

Kaile advises up-and-coming leaders to learn everything they possibly can. Be a student and continue to grow in every possible way. Be humble and don’t get caught up in politics. She says, “Always do the right thing by building teams with people who are stronger and smarter than you are and empower them. Never be threatened by people better than you. Your role as a leader is to foster and enable the next generation of leaders and, by so doing, ignite dynamic growth. You cannot do that if you do not drive your team to unparalleled levels of brilliance and insight.”

Leadership is defined as setting a strong, unique vision, hiring the best, and removing obstacles to success. In this way, more can be achieved than ever thought possible. Kaile mentions that if you are caught in an environment that does not provide this – get out. Your life is short. You are valuable, and your contributions can be significant. “Ensure you capitalize on every day, that you are well-positioned to add value, and that you are aligned with leaders who are smart and believe in empowerment,” Kaile concludes.