Category: SP Spotlight


Bill Novelli’s Latest Endeavor: Transforming End-of-Life Care

c-tacBill Novelli, Board Member of SP Consulting and Distinguished Professor of Practice at Georgetown University’s McDonough Business School, has a way of tackling “challenging” issues from health care reform to tobacco control head on. Most recently Bill became involved in a particularly difficult topic and a life event that will directly impact virtually all Americans — advanced care and end-of-life health care options. Bill is the Co-Chair and founder for the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC), which aims to ensure all those suffering with an advanced illness will receive the highest quality care oriented around their goals and values.

Today Americans are living longer and healthier lives than generations past. However, many will be faced with advanced care decisions, which, as stated by C-TAC occur when “one or more conditions become serious enough that general health and functioning decline, curative treatment begins to lose its effect, and quality of life increasingly becomes the focus of care — a process that continues to the end-of-life.” These end-of-life decisions are only becoming more and more prevalent in our society as the population over the age of 65 will nearly double to more than 72 million in the next two decades. Without addressing the constellation of challenges associated with end-of-life care, our society will see an increase in hospitalizations, unnecessary treatments and conflicting medical advice all resulting in a higher cost-of-care to the families and our nation.

As a good friend of SP Consulting and valued board member, we support Bill in his latest endeavor as he leads the fight to transform end-of-life care and to build a broader understanding of these issues. You can learn more about Bill’s work with C-TAC and how they are reshaping society’s views on end-of-life issues.

C-TAC Homepage:

Facts about Advanced Illness Care:

C-TAC in the News:



Your CEO Has a Blind Spot

Your CEO has a blind spot…and a good communicator can help fix it.

GR pic copyIn this case, the blind spot occurs when executives don’t realize their leadership style is resulting in unintended consequences impacting their teams. Those consequences can be anything from actions taken because a one-off comment was misconstrued as an order, to an overall false perception of the leader that was never intended. This lack of clear communication can be very frustrating as it results in well-intentioned people, at best, working inefficiently and, at worst, creating problems and delays that can hamper an organization’s bottom line.

Those of us who have worked in or around the C-suite have experienced this phenomenon before. It can be hard to pin down or get someone to go on the record about it. However, one leader did talk about it earlier this year: Lorne Michaels, the executive producer and creator of Saturday Night Live. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on the occasion of SNL’s 40th anniversary, Michaels was asked about his leadership style and, according to some, being the most feared man in Hollywood. Michaels admitted he never set out to be feared and that his rough style can be attributed in part to stress spilling over. bid vs ask . He said he’s mellowed over time and now realizes that a rough leadership style may not always be the best choice.

In the C-suite, especially in large organizations, well-intentioned leaders may not realize how they are perceived internally, which is why having an individual or small team to advise them on their communication and public image can be a wise decision. Communicators are good at reading audiences, and due to the nature of their jobs, they are plugged into all parts of an organization often times knowing what’s going on and how people are feeling and reacting to what’s being said and done at all levels. internet safety statistics . They are also well suited to create the messaging and executive branding that will help position the leader even more effective at communicating the vision and projecting the image they really want.

All of this advice comes with one big condition: the executive needs to accept having someone deliver some tough personal feedback from time to time. Again, a strategic communicator is the best person for the job here, because they can offer the feedback with credibility and finesse along with suggestions for improvement.

Not all executives are open to hearing things they don’t want to hear; but, the best ones are. SP Consulting’s own President and CEO Paul Johnson sets a great example in this area, and our firm, and ultimately our clients, are the better for it. This kind of clear and open communication can make the difference between an efficient management team rich in mutual respect, and a group of individuals spinning their wheels, looking over their shoulders and wondering what was said and what they’re supposed to do next.



The Case For Building and Supporting Executive Communities

From the moment I was introduced to executive communities I was hooked. The idea that a group of senior leaders from a range of industries and unique organizations would come together around a specific issue — social responsibility, wellness, sustainability, operations, evolving markets — made so much sense. When you have a question or need advice, who do you ask for help? Your peers. Managed peer-to-peer communities are designed to move past just networking, ultimately aiming to create lasting change.

One of the highlights of my career has been developing, executing, and managing several different types of executive communities. It’s worthwhile to compare communities that are topic driven, policy driven, and organization driven.

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Topic Driven

In an executive community focused on health and wellness, we brought together CMOs from Fortune 500s and leading foundations to create partnerships around societal challenges that aligned with their organizational goals. Some of these goals included employee wellness programs, community playground initiatives, and whitepapers showcasing thought leadership. Sponsors were diverse and drew from a wide range of industries and organizations, including AARP, Del Monte Foods, Kaiser Permanente, Safeway, PhRMA, the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, Mars Snack Food, WebMD and WellPoint.

Policy Driven

A healthcare reform community provided a forum for CEOs and board members to come together around the common goal of creating healthcare policy reform in America. This initiative was led by Michael J. Critelli, the executive chairman, and former CEO, Pitney Bowes Inc. and members included Angela Braly, president and CEO, WellPoint Inc.; Russ Nash, global managing director, Accenture Health & Life Sciences; Jack Cochran, president and executive medical director, Permanente Federation; Wayne Gattinella, CEO, WebMD; and, Teresa Ressel, CEO, UBS Securities.

Organization Driven

Another approach to building and sustaining successful executive communities is led by a cornerstone company. For example, Accenture established a COO Roundtable – an assembly of several clients across diverse national and global industries with the focus being on the challenges of the COO.


Regardless of the drivers, sponsors, and the attendees, successful executive communities share the same framework:

  • Limited access – invitation only groups create a sense of exclusivity.
  • Established core values – including intimacy, generosity, and accountability.
  • Socially engineered – each event is designed with opening activities, which break down the barriers to intimacy at an accelerated pace. This intimacy then allows relationships to be formed based on confidence, commitment, and mutual interest.
  • Results driven – every event is designed to develop the framework for partnerships that ultimately increase shareholder value.


Successful community management ensures that participation in annual or biannual events is only the first step. Many members report that the benefits of joining an executive community include: forging ground-breaking collaborative solutions, which have opened up new revenue streams; developing thought-leadership platforms as a value-based marketing tool; and, feeling a greater sense of connectivity allowing them to be more focused and productive.


Bank Capital in the 21st Century

Cara headshot (1)Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of working in the banking industry is the sense I get of being a part of history. This history is inevitably centered on financial crises and the reforms created in their wake.

It was the Panic of 1826 that spurred Congress to pass the first laws requiring financial reporting standards. The Panic of 1907 inspired the creation of the Federal Reserve. The Panic of 1933 established deposit insurance. And, while the dust is still settling from our more recent financial crisis, one reform that appears to be here to stay is the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR).

Today’s CCAR was born of the Supervisory Capital Assessment Program (SCAP), instituted by regulators in February 2009. SCAP was an attempt by the Fed to restore public confidence in the financial industry by demonstrating that even if economic conditions worsened, the largest US banks could survive. After compiling an unprecedented amount of information from the industry’s 19 largest balance sheets, the Fed determined that less than $100 billion in additional equity would be needed to cope with an even deeper recession (far less than investors had feared). The positive results broke the back of the crisis, and confidence was restored.

Annual stress testing was written into law as Section 165 of the Dodd-Frank Reform and Consumer Protection Act, transforming the relationship between bank and regulator.

Banks are now regularly tested not only on their capital levels in a severe downturn, but also on their ability to consistently provide accurate data. Supervisors can ask banks with greater than $10 billion in assets to provide transaction-level detail on their business activities. If errors are found the Fed might fail a bank for “qualitative” reasons. If Bank of America’s 2015 results are any indication, regulators appear to be giving more weight to qualitative factors as capital levels improve.

Not only are there financial consequences for failure, such as mandatory recapitalization, but the public disclosure of results creates reputational risk as well. After failing the stress tests two out of three years, CitiBank’s stock performance has been among the worst of its peers.

To meet the demands of CCAR, and enable the required coordination across multiple regions, departments, business lines, and IT source systems BB&T (where I work on CCAR reporting) has had to make tremendous investments in time and resources.

As the program expands—today 31 banks participate in CCAR—banks may initially find themselves unprepared for the complexity and intensity of the exam. But there is no going back. Since the crisis, regulators are relying more on horizontal supervision with CCAR its cause célèbre

“The regularization and refinement of rigorous stress testing may be the single most important supervisory improvement to strengthen the resilience of large institutions,” Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo said in 2013.

Failure to adjust to this new supervisory landscape may result in a bank not only being a part of history, but lost to it.


Tom Nelson is Cycling to End Childhood Hunger in America


Share Our Strength (SOS) is a 30-year-old organization dedicated to fighting childhood hunger in America. Tom Nelson, President of SOS, has been in serious training for the past few weeks – bicycling 100 miles every weekend. Why has the President of SOS been in such rigorous training? In early June, Tom will be putting these hours of training to use and riding from Santa Barbara to San Diego along with top chefs from around the country to raise money and awareness to end childhood hunger in America. The ride is called Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry and over 50 chefs and restaurant industry professionals will be riding from either New York City to Washington, DC, or from Santa Barbara to San Diego – 300 miles each!

SOS is a close friend of SP Consulting and we proudly support Tom and his efforts to raise awareness and funds for this important cause. Every $1 you donate can help connect a child with up to 10 meals. Your support for this ride will help Share Our Strength provide 100,000 meals for kids in need. Statistics only show childhood hunger is on the rise in America and is truly becoming a national crisis:

  • One in five children are hungry on a daily basis.
  • 16 million children in the United States struggle with hunger.
  • 3 out of 4 teachers see students in their classrooms that regularly come to school hungry.

“My heart-felt thanks go out to Paul and SP Consulting for supporting this important cause, said Nelson. “You are going to make a real difference in the lives of thousands of children. I believe passionately in our work and know that if our nation’s children are to thrive we need to make sure they have the food they need each and every day.”

To help Tom cross the finish line, please consider making a donation today and make a difference for kids in America – he also appreciates good karma and well wishes as he cycles down the California coast!

To donate – click here.


SP Spotlight: Erik Foehr


SP Consulting is excited to welcome to the team one of our more recent additions to our extensive roster of Senior Partners, Dr. Erik Foehr.  Dr. Foehr is a biotechnology expert with over 15 years of research and development experience, resulting in numerous publications, patents, and innovations that propel the advancement of science, medical treatment, and patient care.

Dr. Foehr’s strong scientific background and business acumen drive effective operations and project management. His work includes contributions in the areas of regulated bioanalysis and medical device characterization. He publishes and presents his work on pharmacokinetics, immunogenicity, and the application of new technologies to product development. Dr. Foehr has served in leadership positions at small start-ups and large biotechnology companies. In his current role as Vice President of Analytical Sciences, he collaborates with hundreds of biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies to enable successful product development. He is often called upon to provide expertise and resources needed to solve complex technical problems that threaten product development.

Dr. Foehr’s recent article published on LinkedIn, “Rare Diseases Inspire Innovation”, focuses on modern technologies, social networks, and innovation in clinical trial designs that are shaping treatments for rare genetic diseases.

Surrogate biomarkers for rare diseases hold great promise to enable successful drug development, long term management of disease and patient empowerment. Rare disease drug development is often challenged by a lack of scientific knowledge about the disease, small patient populations, expensive trials, regulatory hurdles, and high cost of commercial failure. However, great opportunities exist for the treatment of rare diseases. Large and small biopharmaceutical companies have proven that developing and marketing treatments for rare genetic diseases is viable. Bioanalytical tests have been developed for many disorders; new technologies for hand-held, self-administered tests are within reach. Monitoring devices and healthcare networking applications are ideal for enabling successful treatments for people suffering from rare genetic diseases.

To learn more about the use of biomarkers for the treatment of rare genetic diseases, follow the link below to the full article in the Journal of Investigative Genomics.

For more information or to get in touch with Erik, you can connect with him on LinkedIn!


SP Spotlight: Steven Smith

Steven SmithIn the second feature of our Spotlight series, showcasing the breadth of expertise of our partners at SP Consulting, we are excited to feature Steven Smith, our California-based Managing Senior Partner.

Steven Smith is a Managing Senior Partner with SP Consulting providing comprehensive strategic communications services to clients nationwide spanning an array of industries including high tech, conservation, financial services, higher education, philanthropy, and electronics, among others. As a Managing Senior Partner, Steven is a member of the leadership team responsible for the firm’s client relationship management. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Steven brings to SP nearly 20 years’ experience delivering results for organizations across multiple disciplines, including media relations, brand management, M&A and crisis communications, public affairs, public policy, change management, senior executive counsel and support, B2B communications, and consumer product launches/promotions.

Previously, Steven held the position of senior vice president and partner at FleishmanHillard (FH), one of the leading global communications agencies. Through the course of his 13-year FH tenure, Steven played instrumental roles for small, mid-cap and large corporate clients in land-use/development, technology, energy, commercial airline, healthcare, sports, telecommunications, water, and other industries.

One example of a recent client engagement is Steven’s interim assignment as an outsourced VP of Corporate Communications for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce — the Bay Area’s leading business advocacy organization. In this position he was responsible for an array of activities supporting the Chamber’s President and CEO in formulating and executing the organization’s external communications strategies, which included developing and placing several Bay Area Op-Eds to advance the Chamber’s legislative initiatives, as well the Chamber’s support for high-speed rail, improving San Francisco’s transit system, and championing policies to ensure economic sustainability.

In addition to his diverse client work, for eight years Steven served as an in-house communications executive at AT&T, FH’s largest client. In this role, he led communications teams responsible for the Western and Southeast regions of the U.S. at the $125+ billion multinational Fortune 10 company. During his tenure servicing AT&T, Steven had senior roles surrounding high profile client activities, including the launch of the original iPhone, the AT&T/SBC merger, AT&T’s acquisition of BellSouth and subsequent rebranding of Cingular Wireless to AT&T, and AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile.

Steven began his career in state government as a field representative for former California Assembly Floor Leader Richard Katz where he served as the member’s primary district representative. He holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Southern California with an area of concentration of media and communications policy. His undergraduate degree is in political science from California State University, Northridge.


SP Spotlight: Donna Cryer, JD

donnaIn this first of our Spotlight series showcasing the breadth of expertise of our partners at SP Consulting, we are excited to feature Donna R Cryer, JD, Managing Senior Partner and a leader of our healthcare practice. As a patient, Donna provides a unique and valuable perspective to her leadership role within SP Consulting that reiterates our commitment to innovation and transformational strategies in healthcare consulting.

Donna has leveraged her personal experiences with multiple life-threatening conditions into an advocacy career spanning three decades – staffing, managing, and advising advocacy organizations, industry, and government. how to find the domain . Her nationally-recognized deep subject matter expertise, as demonstrated in the three examples below, ranges from genetic diagnostics and personalized medicine to physician practice to health information technology, and exemplifies the evolving and growing leadership role for patients in healthcare today and unique opportunities for engagement.

As a member of the Personalized Medicine Coalition and founder of the Global Liver Institute, Donna was recently interviewed by PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, on the importance of personalized medicine both on a global scale and personally.

Donna is the first patient to be invited to serve on the American Board of Internal Medicine Gastroenterology Board, responsible for oversight of the board certification of Gastroenterologists and is featured on the ABIM blog providing advice to those entering the medical profession. To read her blog post launching September 12th, please go to the ABIM blog:

Later in the month on Monday, September 22nd Donna will be speaking in Santa Clara, CA at the Health 2.0 conference.  She will be discussing patients as partners across the clinical spectrum to an audience of mhealth and HIT entrepreneurs and funders.  To learn more about this event and Donna’s presentation you can go to the Health 2.0 conference site:

Please continue to check back as each month we will be featuring a unique senior partner and their area of expertise!

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