Krizia Francisco, Digital Health Program Consultant + PhD Engineering Student
Republished with permission from Be The Next Her an Evio Community Partner
What is your morning routine?
I’m up by 4:40 am. I have a cup of coffee while I get ready for the day. I check my e-mail to make sure there’s nothing absolutely urgent or crazy that needs my immediate attention, and then I’m out the door and on my way to the train station. On the train I like to sit in the quiet zone; I’m definitely still low-energy at this point in the morning. I’ll either get some work done or sleep some more. The minute I hit the ground in the city I work in, I’m awake and ready to go!
Tell us about your career path
Hahaha, I always laugh when I think about where I started. At 16 I applied everywhere to become a nurse. My marks were average so I wasn’t competitive enough to get in and was rejected by every school. I was alternatively accepted into Public Health or some industry I had never heard of before known as “Health Informatics”. I thought if I did a year of post-secondary it would help get me into nursing, so I went into the Health Informatics undergraduate program. It ended up working out better than I could have imagined. I loved it and stayed in it, ended up doing multiple internships and work terms while in school. I went on to pursue higher education and did my Masters of Science in eHealth and am currently working towards my Ph.D. in Systems Design Engineering with a specific focus on consumer health. I’m incredibly grateful I stumbled into my life’s passion.
My work is focused on how technology can change and improve healthcare. I’ve worked as an analyst on various IT implementations in primary care settings, acute care settings, and even forensic mental health. I moved away up north for one of my internships and when I came back home to Southwestern Ontario I was craving a change in the type of work I was doing. I had done lots of one-to-one work with clinicians on various technologies that could improve their practice but knew I wanted a new challenge. I was able to land a role as a Program Coordinator at a regional health authority and within a year became the Portfolio Manager of Digital Health & Innovation. That job was incredible, I had responsibility for managing digital health projects and implementations across a few big cities, with the help of an absolutely amazing team and mentor.
Just recently (like I literally started this new job two days ago) I have transitioned again and am now working as a Program Consultant at the provincial level where I advise on governance and strategy for Digital Health.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
Sometimes when you’re dealing with other powerful women, they have a chip on their shoulder that actually makes them more difficult to work with. Because they had been given tough challenges, they feel the need to make your climb to the top equally as difficult vs. trying to help raise each other up. I also had a bit of a double-whammy… not only was I female, I was quite young in comparison to my colleagues, which would be challenging when my voice or opinions were not taken as seriously as the guy sitting next to me (even though it could have been the same damn brilliant idea I initially mentioned).
The most helpful thing I did to counter these challenges was finding the right mentors. There are people that will believe in you and help you grow – they’re out there! You just have to find them.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
I could literally write an entire book on this so let me talk about the top three things I think were key to building the woman I am today. Resilience, self-love, and grit.
Resilience is a powerful thing. Learn to build that within you. You’re probably going to hear “no” more than once. You’re going to hear it in different ways and in all aspects of your life – whether it’s a personal matter, or a business proposal – “no” is something you’re inevitably going to hear. It’s difficult but you have to learn to roll with that. Some of the best things that have happened in my life have been because I rolled with a “no” and decided to keep going.
Self-love is a job, take it seriously. Take time to take care of yourself because you are all that you have. I think we focus and do a good job of being critical of self, of knowing when to step it up and take care of business in both work and personal life, but learn when to also give yourself a break. It’s important to sometimes take a step back and look at exactly where you are right now and express gratitude, don’t be so hard on yourself ALL the time.
Last but not least… grit. Do not listen to other people’s perceived bullshit limitations of the work you are capable of doing. I’ve had my gender and age thrown at me before as a limitation…it came down to one thing – how I chose to let someone else’s opinions impact me. I could have allowed the thoughts of others influence my actions but instead, I practiced my character. That meant me fueling my energy and continuing the great work I knew I was capable of doing and allowing my work and results to speak for itself.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
It’s difficult! Especially when you truly are passionate about what you do for a living. But I think I’ve finally started to find a truly happy medium. Those that are closest to me have always understood how important my profession is to me but I still understand the importance of those close personal relationships. I used to struggle with trying to be a different person at work (serious, Type A) in an effort to address some of the challenges in my industry and to be taken seriously. When really… at heart, I’m a goof and I like to laugh. I’ve learned that those different aspects of personality should never be mutually exclusive! Just because you’re smart and Type A, doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to laugh your head off and be a goof. I think I’m at a much more comfortable state in my life and career now that I’ve found a happy medium of just being me which includes all those aspects…I can laugh in the boardroom but I can also settle a debate at the dinner table and vice versa if you know what I mean?
What inspires you?
My family. Always have and always will. Specifically, my parents. They are such kind, loving and brilliant people, and so badass! They picked up and moved from everything they knew across the Pacific and made sacrifices to give me and my brothers a shot at a bright future. Their work ethic, fearlessness in actually following through with their plans, and their faith that things will work out for the best is how I’ve also chosen to live my life. Anytime I think something looks or sounds really difficult I remind myself or have a conversation with my dad and he reminds me that everything is going to work out the way that it should.
When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?
My favourite thing to do on the weekend is taking a country drive to nowhere, blaring music. It gives me time to decompress, think, reflect, and just be comfortable in my own head! Other than that… I really enjoy a good mimosa (and not just for brunch… they’re literally good any time of day or night).