On July 1, 2017, Sunnybrook welcomed Dr. Andrew (Andy) Smith as the hospital’s new President and CEO. Andy most recently served as the hospital’s Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Executive. Previously, he held numerous leadership roles within the hospital and at the University of Toronto, including Head of the Division of General Surgery at Sunnybrook, Chair of the Division of General Surgery at the University of Toronto, Chief of the Odette Cancer Program and Regional Vice President for Cancer Care Ontario.
We sat down with Andy to ask him some questions that would reveal the person behind the title of President and CEO.
Which living person do you most admire?
I think there is a lot that can be learned from team sports, so I really admire some of the great Canadian hockey players, like Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby. Although very skilled individually, they exude great pride in the ways they elevate and acknowledge their teams.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Sports metaphors, like “pass the puck” and “health care is a team sport.”
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My family, especially my wife and kids. They provide me with constant and immediate perspective as to why we do what we do in health care. I also love the city of Toronto and all that it has become and the great future ahead of it.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To be able to play the piano.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Balancing (at least trying to!) a great career in health care with being a great father and husband.
What is your most treasured possession?
Hard-copy photographs with dates recorded on the back to mark moments and memories. I have a great picture in my office of my wife and me in the operating room. It was taken on the day we met in 1993 by my senior resident at the time.
What is your most distinctive characteristic?
Enthusiasm and optimism!
What do you most value in your friends?
The fact that, even after time apart, we are able to pick up right where we left off. I value exuberance and a buoyant spirit.
Who are your favourite writers?
I read a lot of Charles Dickens’s work when I was young – books like Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. My mother is English and she used to draw connections to some of the characters in those books a fair amount, as I recall.
Who is your favourite fictional hero?
Captain James T. Kirk from Star Trek. He is a really smooth heroic figure – and a great team player!
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I don’t identify [with him] per se, but I read and know a lot about Winston Churchill. I am especially fascinated by the events of the spring of 1940. I am generally interested in historical political leaders, including Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
What is it that you most dislike?
Wasting time at either work or play. We are only given so many hours in a day and I believe in maximizing those 24 hours.
What is your greatest regret?
Had I got orthotics for my running shoes, it might have spared me the major ankle surgery I had in 2012. It stopped me from running. Nonetheless, I am able to walk a lot and really enjoy that activity.
Thoughts on your new position and what you envision for Sunnybrook’s future?
Sunnybrook is in a terrific position for future success. We’re building on a solid foundation that we’ve created over the past few years and we’re achieving our vision, which is inventing the future of health care. We’re doing this today. It’s not science fiction. With the help of our generous community and support from government, our teams are revolutionizing care and it’s my job to continue to make that happen.
We are changing how care is delivered. I am a surgeon by training, and in the not-too-distant future, we won’t be making incisions in patients anymore. We’ll be using ultrasound and other technology to provide cures that were considered impossible not long ago. We have our challenges like any hospital, but we’re overcoming them with an incredible team. I’m excited to be in this role and to be at the helm of something great.
What is your motto?
Give it 100 per cent, whatever you do. Be “all in”!