As a practicing physiotherapist and later on as middle manager in rehabilitation medicine Ken Mark was no longer satisfied working at a patient level. He wanted to make a difference that could change and influence the health system overall.
To do this, he knew he needed to pursue a graduate degree. He spoke to his colleagues and they recommended the master of health services administration at the University of Alberta.
“As a physiotherapist, I was narrow in my view and the MHSA program brought me to another level of thinking,” says Mark. “My cohort came from different disciplines and backgrounds, which brought with it different viewpoints. This made me think in broader and more expansive terms, and helped me realize just how complicated the health system really was.”
After graduation, Mark took the path least travelled by his fellow classmates—the private sector. Throughout his almost 40-year career, he has worn many hats and held various titles from consultant to business developer to volunteer policy advisor for two ministers of Health. Mark has also volunteered his health consulting expertise in Indonesia. He opened a chain of private physical therapy clinics in Alberta that ultimately were not successful. Losing and not succeeding in business is “a big deal” with many dark corners however if one can rise above it all it is very rewarding.
“I think it’s important to figure out what you want to do and go do it,” says Mark. “I had people—including one professor—tell me that my unconventional path would yield a high probability of failure. I did it anyway.”
For the past 20 years, Mark has worked for Deloitte Canada, beginning as a consultant and working his way up to senior manager. A highlight for him was having the honour of working with an Edmonton seniors group that felt discouraged and let down by the government in hearing their innovative idea and then having this idea eventually be accepted and made into reality.
“Ultimately, through perseverance and hard work, they were able to design, build, open and to this day still operate one of Edmonton’s first assisted living facility,” says Mark. “I’m proud to have been part of that.”
With each position and circumstance, brought more knowledge and experience—something that Mark says is worth its price in gold.
“There is no substitute for experience when you’re dealing with complicated health policy matters,” explains Mark. “Knowing how things work and having been there at many levels, brings credibility and helps you be a better consultant, employee or volunteer.”
(Last updated October, 2017)