Out of the Office

By Klarizza Aggabao

Behind an organization stands a person of power, the person who leads the team. In the frontlines, leaders uphold the values of their organization and make difficult decisions that propel their organizations to a higher standard.

An article by Business Insider mentioned hobbies the titans of today do in their spare time, like actress Meryl Streep knitting and calling it “therapeutic.” Or Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft mogul, swinging a tennis racket and playing bridge. Did you know that former president George W. Bush enjoys painting puppies and landscapes?

Like the average person, the leaders and powerful people that we know are just like us. They have a life outside of their office, eating dinner at the dinner table, driving their kids to their sports games or going on vacation. In Gainesville, there are two notable people who are the leaders of two exceptional organizations. And this is what they do in their spare time.

The campus is bustling with life – students are moving about to their classes like ants in an intricate maze. Beneath the bright blue sky is the University of Florida and it is like any other day. While students worry about their next assignment or quiz, at Tigert Hall, the office upstairs stands one of the most important people on campus. Kent Fuchs, the 12th President of the University of Florida, has a busy schedule. Packed with early morning meetings, speeches and events on the calendar, each appointment inputted months before, it seems as though Fuchs run on coffee and no sleep. But that is not the case. Balancing the boisterous tasks of being the university president, there are moments where he takes the time off to forgo the crisp suit and tie to don a shirt and jeans.

Every eight weeks, Fuchs and his wife Linda, travel to upstate New York and spend a long weekend on a farm. An escape, the farm is a getaway to reboot and refresh from the busy life in Gainesville.

“I used to work in Ithaca, New York,” Fuchs said. “And we just go there. Nobody knows us there and we get away. I do the kinds of things there that I can’t do here. So, I take care of the house. I don’t have to wear a suit. And it’s great because it’s a totally different climate.”

For the five days away, Fuchs enjoys the environment around him. He remembers the birds swarming and flying over the lake nearby, the wild animals living on the property, the rippling water of the lake, his boat in the garage and the nearby natural attractions he can see out of his window. While he enjoys the respite, he and his wife think of home in Florida.

“We love Gainesville, we love all aspects of Gainesville and the University of Florida but it’s also good to be away and to be refreshed,” university president said. “And then when you come back, you really appreciate University of Florida.”

When he is in Gainesville, Fuchs likes to do other things to occupy his time. Students remember him as the president of the people, creating funny videos, April Fool’s pranks like switching roles with the former Florida Gators football coach and combining UF with Florida State University. Students also remember when he dressed up as Darth Vader at a basketball game because it was Star Wars night. His opinion pieces are also published on the Independent Florida Alligator, his piece on spending dinner with the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, the leaders of the university, upcoming commencement speeches and even the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, he stays connected with the students. In an article by the Alligator six months after he started his position as UF president, Fuchs makes is a habit and goal to build relationships with the people around him, including students. He is seen going around campus, interacting with the student body and learning what makes the university great.

But even as most of his time is consumed by the university, Fuchs makes it a point that it is important to spend time with family. In his office, pictures of the farm in New York line the walls. One shows an overhead view of the farm, the lake on the bottom left corner, the house on the middle right, expanse greenery from edge to edge. From his recent trip, he points to the picture and says that it doesn’t look like that now because of the cold weather, instead of green it’s white. Another picture is of him and his daughter at her wedding, Fuchs leading her to the altar. Another picture is of his grandchildren, both wearing miniature clothes with UF’s orange and blue. And on the wall behind his desk is a picture of him and his wife, their arms around each other at the farm. He mentioned that he looks forward to future trips up north with his wife. The next one is in May, after graduation and commencement – a weeklong trip he is looking forward to.

       

The first thing he does when he visits the farm?

“Open the shades,” Fuchs said, laughing.

 


 

UF Health Shands Hospital CEO Ed Jimenez is often seen crossing Archer Road from one hospital to another, waving at those who greet him along the way. Nurses, doctors, technicians, transporters and more weave around hospital guests and patients, a sense of urgency in their pace. A whole different ballpark, running a hospital is different because of the tasks and roles each leader play. However, Jimenez has experience with the medical world.

Before moving to Gainesville and working at UF Health, Jimenez worked at St. Joseph’s Healthcare System in New Jersey; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York; University Hospital in New Jersey and Valley Health System in New Jersey. However, his mother played a vital role in his appreciation with speaking with the patients, nurses, physicians and other hospital employees.

“My mom was a nurse and so I grew up around a hospital,” Jimenez said. “When you grow up in a hospital setting, you get comfortable talking to anybody. My very first job was a transporter. Which, back then, was pretty low on the totem pole.”

           As a transporter, Jimenez had the experience of being the person on the other side of management. Jimenez alludes to his first job, and his mother as a nurse, as a way to interact with the people around him, whether they are patients or his employees. In an article by the Harvard Business Review, one of the traits mentioned in  a great CEO is that they are active communicators and that they “have a greater focus on the organization, outcomes and results, and others than on themselves.” And because of this, he is approachable to everyone and encourages it. He also explains that speaking to employees and patients who stop him along the way keeps him grounded.

           “You always have to make time for people,” Jimenez said. “I will not ignore somebody. I could be running late, I could be late as a result of, I’m not ignoring somebody.”

   In an article by the Becker’s Hospital Review, one of the traits of a great hospital CEO is the connection they have with the community. In a recent Instagram post, Jimenez can be seen at Dance Marathon at UF with students and participants. There is no average day at the hospital. Jimenez’s schedule involves decisions to make, guidance to provide, social interactions internally or externally and to facilitate. When he is not working, Jimenez enjoys spending time with his wife and three children.

           “My family, you can bucket what we do to be well-rounded are three buckets of things,” Jimenez said. “One is I grew up in a family, and my friends grew up in families where meal time is family time. And so, in my family, we work pretty hard at trying to be together around meals. And we go out to dinner pretty regularly, and we go out to dinner as a sort of, often as a piece of something else.”          

           If it’s a weeknight, Jimenez said, he and his family go out to eat after his children play sports. When he is able to leave work early, Jimenez drives to where his family may be, then drive to their dinner plans. Jimenez explains that the travel time to and from the dinner place is considered quality family time, each moment focused on each other.

           “Number two, because my kids play sports, we try really hard to move together as a family around the sports,” Jimenez said. “They play lacrosse, which turns out you have to travel for. And so, everybody gets in the car and everybody goes.”

           The games would often take the family off to places like Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg, locations that are more than two hours away. The car rides to the places is more time spent together as a family. And depending on where they are, the family also shops, eats meals and do things together.

           “The third thing is we go to the beach together,” Jimenez said. “Oftentimes, we go as a family and sometimes, me and my wife go together.”

           He recalls the time when he moved to Gainesville, away from his family up north. He remembers building snowmen to sandmen with his children. He remembers how Christmas Eves are spent with all of his family back home and growing up. Highlighting and emphasizing on family is important to Jimenez.

“Anytime together is family time.”

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