Brandy Olson, operational design director at HDR, was just named to Building Design + Construction magazine’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2016. We think it’s a longtime coming. Here’s why:
- She's an operations design pioneer: Before HDR hired Brandy in 2012, an industrial engineer position at an architecture firm was essentially unheard of. Now she’s proving just what a valuable investment it is. Brandy single-handedly created the Operations Design team, which has grown from herself to a seven-person team working on projects throughout North America. Because of its workload, the group doubled in size in 2015 and is continuing to grow rapidly today.
- She's a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt superstar: She doesn’t sell operational solutions just by being an excellent salesperson—she backs up every decision and recommendation with facts. Using years of direct experience inside the healthcare system at Nebraska Medicine as well as her knowledge and methodologies, she is quickly able to move clients to a decision.
- She's a game-changer: Rather than limiting process improvement to today’s infrastructure, she’s using simulation and data analysis to predict and model the infrastructure of the future. By guiding clients to consider facilities in context of a much larger system, Brandy is able to plan for flexibility. And that isn’t just on the scale of adaptable rooms, but on how patients will receive care and how providers will deliver it.
We’ve all heard it a hundred times: The demands on healthcare organizations are larger than ever. They’re not only struggling to control operational costs, but also to keep up with high expectations regarding patient and provider experience, reduced construction needs and rapid technological advances in the face of shifting care needs, rising patient populations and intense competition. How can these organizations harness data in order to optimize their processes and predict infrastructure needs of the future?
That’s where Brandy comes in.
Brandy vowed to improve the way patients and families receive treatment and attention in the healthcare system after her dad was hospitalized for a minor heart stent procedure, which should have taken 20 minutes. After several hours of waiting in his room overcome with panic, Brandy demanded to know what was going on—only to find out that her father was already out of surgery. The procedure had gone smoothly, but due to a scheduling back-up, he spent more than four hours waiting in the hallway for a bed.
“I was frustrated that such a simple process had caused so much unnecessary worry for my family,” she says.
That experience eventually led to her Lean Six Sigma consultant position at HDR—the first in the company and probably one of the first in the industry. Four years later, “I’m leading a team that helps our clients achieve the optimal balance of efficiency and experience for their patients and staff,” Brandy says.
Here is what else she had to say—with a few loud laughs filling the room between her answers:
Q: Do you have any unusual talents?
A: I used to be quite good at wrecking cars. Don’t worry, I take public transportation now.
Q: What's something interesting about yourself that other people may be surprised to find out?
A: I’m an introvert. A very loud, very talkative introvert.
Q: What are your favorite hobbies?
A: I love cooking... which I am known for being pretty terrible at, but I’m making a strong comeback.
Q: What’s your favorite food?
A: Cheese for sure. There’s this crazy Brie-ish cheese from the Von Trapp family (from The Sound of Music) that I could live on for the rest of my life. Accompanied by wine, of course.
Q: What do you do to relax?
A: I run (three half marathons down!), which sounds ridiculously un-relaxing, however, running is the only surefire way to relax my mind. But I only run with the perfect playlist which can be anything from Chance the Rapper to Maxence Cyrin to Arcade Fire.
Q: What is your advice to those who want to get ahead in their careers?
A: The crazier the ideas, the better. So far in this industry, my experience has been that the only ideas that do not get heard are the ones that are not voiced—so speak up. My favorite thing about working in such a creative industry is that the crazier ideas are usually the best ideas.