Inside Track: Savickas travels executive path

After starting as an oncology nurse, the Infusion Associates COO now makes decisions for a company of more than 200.
Inside Track: Savickas travels executive path
Lindsey Savickas credits her father for influencing her leadership style.

Lindsey Savickas has always veered toward health care.

Savickas, however, has not had a prototypical health care career. After spending the early part of her professional life as an oncology nurse, Savickas found her way to Infusion Associates and worked her way up the leadership ladder.

Now, Savickas is the chief operations officer at the rapidly expanding outpatient infusion company. She started at Infusion Associates when there were just seven employees. Now, there are more than 200.

“If you would have asked me what I’d be doing today, I don’t know what I would have guessed,” Savickas said of her general health care aspirations that began at 5 or 6 years old. “It’s nice to have a general focus and then you take the opportunities and paths that open up.”

Coming to a small startup from a hospital with plenty of bureaucracy, the ability to institute change was welcomed. And now, she makes sure to work to maintain that flexibility.

“I loved oncology nursing, but as most people know, the hospital setting is tough,” Savickas said.

LINDSEY SAVICKAS
Organization:
Infusion Associates
Position: Chief Operations Officer
Age: 41
Birthplace: Grand Rapids
Residence: Belmont
Family: Husband, Tony; four children: Audrey, Elise, Grant and Liam.
Business/Community Involvement: Board of directors for the Arthritis Foundation; advisory board of The Salvation Army; Standards Development Committee for the National Infusion Center Association.
Biggest Career Break: “Obviously, everything builds upon itself. You wouldn’t have today if you didn’t have yesterday. But one inflection point (was) in 2018, being awarded the opportunity to lead Infusion Associates on an incredible expansion initiative with the injection of capital dollars. That’s the most pivotal point in where I’m headed.”

A colleague had introduced her to the idea of Infusion Associates and its founder, Dr. Khan Nedd. “I met with (Nedd) and the rest is history. One of the most appealing parts of the company back then, and it still holds true, is the ability to have input and make changes and improve processes as an employee.

“In a large hospital, or a lot of organizations, that system is challenging, depending on the leadership structure. But coming in, we could make changes as employees, and we still hold true to that.”

As an executive with Infusion Associates, Savickas makes sure to meet with new hires monthly and continues to emphasis the company’s culture and intentionality and how to shape, preserve and protect it. Beyond that, she encourages employees from the beginning that their input is valuable for the growth of the company.

Her leadership style is, at least in part, developed from watching her father as a leader of a manufacturing facility she worked at during summers in college.

“He walked the floor every day. It didn’t take long, but he knew everybody and the way they responded, they just had so much trust in him,” Savickas said. “He pulled things off other leaders in the organization couldn’t.

“That’s a huge part of how I see my role as leader and being in tune to those that work for me.”

Going from a nurse to an executive was a winding path for Savickas and remains a challenge. She worked her way up at Infusion Associates, going from director of clinical services to practice administrator to director of operations and now, chief operating officer.

“I’d apply and interview. It was, ‘We are growing and there are needs,’” she said. “It’s been a natural pathway for me in that I’m very solution-oriented.”

Leading the operations at the company, she oversees research, marketing and sales, compliance, pharmacy services, real estate and more.

“There’s a variety and it’s plenty enough to keep my attention; it’s kept me captivated,” she said.

Has she ever thought of taking a different path?

“We’ve grown, changed and developed. We’ve had some really incredible expansion, so there is continued opportunity, so I haven’t had to lead to have the ability to do different things within the organization.”

Her organizational prowess has paid dividends in her life outside of work, as well. As the mother of four, her attention often is pulled in a variety of directions. With intention, she has put herself front and center for her children.

“It’s definitely the mentality of it takes a village,” Savickas said. “You have the resources in place around you and you focus on things that aren’t replaceable. There are things that are replaceable, like doing the laundry, but no one can replace being at an event for my kids.

“It’s really important to me to be very selective and intentional on the things that I hold to and have a village at home, or work, to be able to support and take on the things that don’t (need) me.”

In a lot of ways, that is how Savickas approaches work, as well. She delegates and helps encourage employees to accomplish the tasks.

Whether it’s career advancement or parenting, Savickas always is pushing to the next level. Curious and motivated, Savickas — a nursing graduate of Grand Valley State University — now is pursuing her master’s in business administration from Western Michigan University, albeit slowly with all her other responsibilities.

“I’ve always been involved in anything and everything, even in high school. My husband, a high school sweetheart, he would ask me to pull back a little bit,” she said. “I’m definitely a driver by nature, personally or professionally. I’m known for setting goals and pushing myself to do more.

“I tend to jump all-in, sometimes without thinking it through. It sounds unplanned, but you can’t always have all the details in the beginning, so you have to have an element of risk; some learning is on the go.”

Right now, as Infusion Associates grows, there is plenty of new risk to navigate. The everchanging health care industry has provided a pathway to growth for an upstart.

“The market shifted, at least five-plus years now, the payers were shifting (patients) to lower sites of care — outpatient or home facilities. They weren’t always great locations or options for IV infusions,” Savickas said. “We saw an opportunity and a community need.”

For the first 15 years, there was one Infusion Associates site in Grand Rapids. With expansion beginning in January 2019, the company has grown to 13 sites across Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota. It has turned into one of the Midwest’s largest providers of medically prescribed outpatient infusion and injection therapies. Treatments provided include those for chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune disorders.

Florida-based Boyne Capital took a majority interest in Infusion Associates in 2018 and is driving the growth. It’s that infusion of capital in Infusion Associates that Savickas cites as the key in her career and solidifying her path forward.

“Obviously, everything builds upon itself. You wouldn’t have today if you didn’t have yesterday. But one inflection point (was) in 2018, being awarded the opportunity to lead Infusion Associates on an incredible expansion initiative with the injection of capital dollars. That’s the most pivotal point in where I’m headed.”

After starting her career as a nurse, Savickas said she often is asked how she is now an executive leading a company through significant expansion. For her, there are enough similarities between the two roles, and perhaps most importantly, she can impact a significant number of people, now from both a patient and employee perspective.

At 41, Savickas has a long road left in her career, but she is not too concerned where she might end up in the future. As a child dreaming of being in health care, she never saw herself helping lead a company within a growing part of the industry, and yet, here she is doing just that.

And with that, she will not begin to pretend she knows where she might be by the time she retires.

“As I couldn’t have predicted where I am today, I don’t think I can fool myself to think I can predict where I will be tomorrow,” she said. “Of course, I have goals and aspirations, but there are things that come into your life that you just don’t know until they’re there.”

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