Degree: Bachelor of Recreation Studies
Employed as: Director, Business & Innovative Services, Health Sciences Centre; Managing Director, Volunteer Enterprises, Health Sciences Centre
Twenty-two buildings on 32 acres of land.
One hundred and thirty-two apartments, 800 trust and research accounts, and 4,100 parking stalls.
Six thousand staff members, 1,200 volunteers, and more than 15,000 visitors a day.
It’s no wonder Gerald Mirecki – Director of Business and Innovative Services for Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg – feels like he’s supporting a small city.
But luckily, Mirecki – a graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management – comes prepared for the task at hand, having spent much of his 35-year career under the employ of the real thing.
“With 15,000 people on campus every day, it is like a mini-city – that’s how I view it,” says Mirecki, a Bachelor of Recreation Studies grad who – prior to the HSC position and a few years spent consulting – worked his way up the public sector ladder to become Manager of Community Development and Recreation Services for the City of Winnipeg. “It’s all about, ‘How can I improve the quality of life for people in our mini-city, the HSC?’ It’s trying to shepherd or be a steward of all these programs that will make a difference for our patients, for our visitors and for our staff.”
As mentioned, Mirecki is no stranger to either shepherding or stewardship, having served in the past as everything from a camp counselor to president of the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (a stint he’s due to wrap up sometime this summer).
In his current position, one offered to him after being recruited to draft a strategic plan for the multitude of non-medical programs, services, and business opportunities at HSC, he leads a team that oversees everything from cafeterias to call centres, gift shops to green spaces, patient information systems to staff wellness programs, and pretty much everything in between.
“I’ve worked so many years on the preventative side – in recreation, in my former role (with the city) – that this is like coming full circle. I can see how the dots are connected, as far as how important it is to have proper care when you really need it,” says Mirecki, who was part of the second graduating class of the newly-minted Recreation Studies program when he graduated in 1984.
“People come here because they have to, so there is always anxiety …There are many aspects to making sure these people have quality health care, that they know where they’re going, they know how to access services, and they’re completely comfortable while they’re here.”
Given that HSC is the primary health care facility for those living between Toronto and Calgary (including the thousands of Northern Canadian residents whose communities lack adequate services), and that its daily budget is close to $1.25 million (and that’s just for the government-funded services), it’s no wonder that hospital higher-ups were looking for someone with leadership experience to oversee their new Business and Innovative Services branch. Clearly Mirecki – who once taught recreation courses at the U of M (and who has since returned as a guest lecturer with regularity over the years) – fit the bill.
“Working in the public sector, but having an entrepreneurial spirit, that’s what allowed for this journey,” says Mirecki, who also serves as Managing Director of HSC’s Volunteer Enterprise.
“My education and my years of experience with the City was a phenomenal training ground to deal with this kind of diversity. We were used to doing a lot of things on the fly with the City. We had strategic plans and staffing and budgets, but there had to be a lot of ingenuity to make something like recreation work.”
“Coming from the public sector, and having worked in large organizations that have a multitude of departments, has provided me with that solid kind of experience,” he continues, noting he’s had the privilege of working with talented teams and great professionals in both his careers.
“You know about direction, you know how to create, you know how to develop a team, how to work with a team, how to work within different levels of an organization. This is quite a challenge, but also a really great way to have a second career and to feel good about making a positive difference.”