Gina Fields the Transformer: Former Nurse Transforms Tough Early Life into Client, Community Success
- February 28, 2019
Gina Fields is our Director and Innovation Ambassador for the NTT DATA Services’ Healthcare and Life Sciences Client Engagement Program. She has more than 20 years’ experience in healthcare, first as a nurse and then as a leader. In her current role, she helps our clients solve business challenges through collaboration at our Plano Client Experience Center or in customized workshops at their location.
Earlier in her life, Gina faced plenty of challenges, but she was determined to push through them and not become a statistic. She took the cards life dealt her and turned them into a steely focus on transforming: first herself and then the community around her. Lucky for NTT DATA Services, she helps us and the clients we serve.
Q. You had a challenging childhood that lacked stability. Tell me about that.
A. My parents split up when I was just two or three, and the split was devastating for my mom, physically and psychologically — so much so we packed up and moved out of state. She was never satisfied with her jobs or the places we lived, so we moved around constantly. At one point, we even lived in a homeless shelter for nearly a year. Because of all that moving, my dad wasn’t around much, and money was tight.I do remember, as a young child, my mom working long hours and me coming home from school and not having anything to eat and sneaking out to our next-door neighbor “borrowing” slices of bread to eat. It was an experience that I didn’t want anyone to know about at the time and one that I’ll never forget.
I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of person, even living in the shelter. I had to get up early and ride the city bus to school, but no one knew the difference between me and the kids who had more stable, secure lives.
I was always the new kid, and frequently one of the few kids of color in school, so I had to learn to adapt. I learned to understand and befriend people from an early age so that I could be comfortable. I had an advantage, though, in that my mom started teaching me to read around three years of age, she prepped me to always be on my best behavior and work the hardest because those around me may expect less.
Her words stayed with me. I was determined to learn and prove doubters around me that I could achieve anything they could and more. My first-grade teacher was amazed by me — a young inner city child, who could already read and who had an amazing memory. She would take me around to other classrooms, where I would recite and act out stories in front of all these kids — listening to someone who wasn’t like them. I saw then that I could bring people together — that I could be a leader. And later, I proved my doubters wrong by getting into a top magnet-school program.
Through all those experiences, I learned to maximize my opportunities. I learned that if I’m kind to others — treating them how I’d like to be treated, smart enough, good enough and work hard enough, I’ll succeed. I learned not to “major over minor things,” to focus on what’s important and to keep trying no matter what!
Q. You’re one of our Game Changers and you changed the game in your life — beating the odds to become who you are today. Tell me how you use that experience to help change the game for our clients.
A. To succeed, I had to transform myself. I constantly pushed myself to be the best. The best college student, the best nurse. That meant offering the best clinical care to my patients and then using my brain to do even more. While overseeing clinical operations, I saw an opportunity to use technology to make clinical data more meaningful for clinicians and patients. I later shifted to healthcare consulting, leading clinical systems and electronic medical records implementations. In those roles, I was able help my clients identify their true business challenges and achieve their business objectives.
But it’s not only about helping my clients transform — it’s about helping others around me. My consistent love for God, church and family was my foundation in my transformation and that motivates me to help others transform. I’m a fitness instructor and I also serve as a choir director and youth ministry leader at my church. In these roles I’m surrounded with a community of people who I try to inspire and who inspire me.
As a fitness instructor, people come to me in varying states seeking total health and fitness. Some are already fit, but others are not and are wanting to transform themselves. My goal is to try to help them from whatever place they are when they start.
At NTT DATA Services, clients come to us to help solve all kinds of problems in their healthcare organizations, in workshops we call Adventure Labs. Most of the time, the ideas they bring in with them, about their business challenges and potential solutions, change as the workshop progresses.
For example, we had a healthcare CIO and his team who were about to invest several million dollars to solve a challenge they were facing. As we guided them through our Adventure Lab, they took a new look at the problem, gained much deeper understanding of the true nature of the problem, and identified a better solution. We saved them money that would have otherwise been wasted.
One rule we establish at the beginning of workshops is that there is no hierarchy in the room and titles are left at the door. Everyone is equal. This is a space to be free and speak your truth without repercussions, where everyone respects each other, collaborates and listens.
At the end of every Adventure Lab, whether it’s at our headquarters or they’ve asked me to come onsite to conduct a customized lab for them, our clients say that it’s much more than they expected, that it is valuable and rewarding to have a mediator who helps them really listen to each other. I’d like to think I’m playing a part in their transformation by helping them solve their challenges and, both in this client work and in the rest of my life, transformation like this is what I’m truly passionate about.