A Q&A to celebrate a year of EnterpriseHealth

Katie Heelis: Three years ago, I sat down with Barbara Fox to talk about my role at Enterprise and leading our Health Practice. 

Today, I’m excited to sit down with our health team to hear from them after almost one year of formally launching EnterpriseHealth! 

It’s been a busy three years for us and the entire health system. With health transformations happening across the country, a global pandemic and now helping health organizations navigate recovery, it’s been quite the adventure.  

But it has also been incredibly rewarding. The connections we’ve made with Canada’s health care leaders and the achievements we’ve realized together wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and expertise of our team.  

KH: Carly, you were our first official EnterpriseHealth hire. What made you take the leap to leave the hospital sector and join consulting? 

Carly Ellis: I joined Enterprise during the pandemic at a time when I felt we needed more creative solutions in the health care system. The status quo wasn’t working anymore so I wanted to try something new. 

With my move to Enterprise, I was looking to make meaningful impacts quickly. I wanted to work with brilliant leaders from different organizations who were making changes in the health care system.

I wanted to connect these leaders and organizations to lead to even bigger change and help them achieve their goals whether it was policy changes, securing funding or coming up with creative solutions to complex problems. 

KH: What’s the biggest difference between working for hospitals and working for Enterprise? 

CE: Our clients expect us to move quickly and we exceed that expectation. Every day is different, wild and FAST. Consulting has also allowed me to use my government relations and communication skills every day and in different ways while staying in the hospital and broader health care sector. 

KH: Nate, I’m going to jump to you. Close second hire, and another jump from a successful political career, including chief of staff to Minister of Health in Manitoba. What made you excited about joining our team? 

Nate Clark: Working in a Minister’s office during the pandemic, I saw firsthand how siloed the health system truly is. It came together when it needed to, but there are still so many barriers preventing Canadians from getting quality health care. I was excited to bring that experience from government to work with Canada’s top health care organizations and develop partnerships that are good for government and business but, most importantly, patients.  

KH: What is the top thing you learned in politics that helps make you a good consultant? 

NC: In politics you have to learn to reconcile views coming from every direction. You have external stakeholders, but also internal stakeholders like MLAs and MPs coming from their ridings with their own views. In the end, you have to put all those perspectives together and find a solution that works for everyone. The same philosophy holds true working with clients throughout the health system. 

KH: What has been the best part of being part of EnterpriseHealth year one?

CE: One, I love the team. Everyone thinks about things in different ways and we challenge each other – and we all know I love a debate! Two, every day is different. You think you have a plan for the day, but then suddenly a client needs you immediately and that’s what we are here for. In a way, being pulled in many different directions forced me to be more flexible and enjoy every moment. 

NC: The team, the team, the team. Some of the things we’ve been able to do have been exhilarating, including advancing files related to women’s health and ensuring Canadians have the access to the care they need. We’ve been able to move faster over the past couple of years than I’d ever seen in government. It really is impressive, and I love to see the difference it’s making.

KH: Kevin, before we hired you, we had a big gap with that national perspective. We were thrilled to find you and take you from the Minister of Health’s office in Ottawa. How do you think your experience in politics and policy helps us grow and support our clients? 
 
Kevin Den Heijer: First, I can’t lobby since leaving government, but I have a deep understanding of how government decision-makers think about health care issues and their priorities. Additionally, when you’re boots on the ground you get a real sense of what is on people’s minds. There’s a big difference between watching Question Period  from Toronto and actually being here. 

KH: Like Nate and Carly, you had experience working in a health minister’s office, but how critical is it to have that health care experience? 

KD: None of us are clinicians, but it’s important when you meet with clients that you understand the terminology, the language. There are so many health-specific acronyms and terms that you can and can’t use, so that understanding of the health care world is critical. Not everyone can jump in and deliver the same white glove treatment to health care clients as we can.

KH: White glove or white coat?(sorry, had to)  

KH: Similar to Kevin – from politics but more on the communications side – Alex had one of the hardest jobs in politics as press secretary to a health minister during a pandemic. Alex, how’d that help prepare you for the work you do today?  

Alex Hilkene: It allowed me to establish a good understanding of our health care system, while learning how to communicate complex and high-stakes issues to the public and media. These skills allow me to support our clients in navigating communications in high-pressure situations. 

CE: You really bring that balance! 

KH: What were you most surprised about working in consulting after politics? 

AH: I expected everyone to be cut from the same cloth, but instead we have really diverse experiences, backgrounds and skillsets, which ultimately makes us stronger as a team. 

KH: Nikita, you have a health care and health policy background, but from the Ministry side – so, what drew you to EnterpriseHealth. 

Nikita Singh: I like to think about how to do things from a very practical way in a health context, but sometimes from a ministry perspective that progression can be slow. At Enterprise, we have the ability to move some of the gears or jump some steps – that you can’t do in government – to make astronomical impact in the system for the better. 

KH: What skillset do you bring to the team? 

NS: I think of the systems first – so when we work towards a goal as a team, I’m immediately thinking about the research needed and all the processes the government requires to move forward. I’m able to translate the political work in a way that works for government or will resonate. 

KH: Now, Pete. You’re the glue that holds us all together. Everyone needs a Pete! Anything good we’ve ever said, you’ve likely written. Health care is a complex, scientific space. As our lead writer how do you help us and our clients keep it simple? Why is that important? 

Peter Downs: Health care almost has its own language. There’s a lot of jargon. There are a lot of complicated words. There are a lot of acronyms that get sprinkled into everything. When you blend it all together, you get dense content that’s tough for the average person to digest, let alone get excited about. The basic principles of great writing are the same for health care as they are for any topic. Be clear, be concise, use simple words and use as few of them as you can. Boiling down complex ideas into simple but powerful language helps our clients resonate with the broadest possible audience.  

Also, health care is two words, not one (inside joke). 

KH: And now to our newest hire! Carly, you’re only a few weeks into the job, but you are not off the hook! As a former director of communications to a Minister of Health during the pandemic, you could have gone anywhere – why EnterpriseHealth?  

Carly Bergamini: Working in government you understand the pressure health care workers are under and the pain points that exist. Despite their best efforts the system is not always supporting health care workers in delivering the best care possible to patients.  

EnterpriseHealth was the perfect opportunity to work with people who are equally as passionate about health care to help leading health care organizations bring innovative and practical solutions to our health care system that work for everyone.  

KH: What have you learned since starting 

CB: After years of working in politics, in both opposition and government, I was worried in my next role I might get bored – that certainly has not been an issue since starting! In health care there is always a new challenge to solve that requires consideration of a range of perspectives and priorities from different stakeholders. That was a welcome challenge!  

KH: OK, maybe ONE more question! What’s next for EnterpriseHealth? 

NC: Working with clients to introduce more innovation to the system so health care is sustainable and patient-focused moving forward. 

CE: Connecting health care, clients, leaders, thinkers and solutions across the country.  

CB: We’re at a tipping point in health care. We’re ready to deliver the bold and creative solutions our system needs.

Our
People

Katie Heelis - Vice President, EnterpriseHealth (Click here to read more)

Katie Heelis

Vice President,
EnterpriseHealth

Public Policy, Advocacy, Mental Health and Addictions, Regulatory Affairs, Issues Management and Medical Technologies and Innovations

Katie Heelis is a recognized health care expert, political strategist, and issues manager with a successful track record of running some of Canada’s largest health advocacy campaigns.  Katie started her career as an Issues Manager and Policy Advisor in the Office of the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario, where she honed her policy skills and political acuity, becoming a key advisor on health policy, and working on a variety of political campaigns at the municipal, provincial, and national level. Since joining Enterprise, Katie has led national public affairs, government relations and public relations campaigns for clients in all areas of health care from mental health to hospitals and long-term care. Today, she is sought after by many of Canada’s leading health executives and organizations to solve complex problems and support the development of winning strategies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Katie was asked to serve as the Interim CEO for Addictions and Mental Health Ontario representing nearly 200 frontline community health organizations during the height of the pandemic. Katie also provided critical expertise, strategic direction and issues management to many health care organizations as they navigated the pandemic.  Katie is a graduate of the Balsillie School of International Affairs, holding a master’s degree in International Public Policy with a focus on Global Public Health. She is the founder of the Women in Media Fellowship and a Board Member at Margaret’s Housing and Community Support Services in Toronto. 
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Carly Ellis - Director, EnterpriseHealth (Click here to read more)

Carly Ellis

Director,
EnterpriseHealth

Strategic Planning, Hospitals, Facilitation, Ontario Health Teams, Redevelopment and Health System Transformation

Carly Ellis is sought after strategic advisor leveraging her deep expertise of the health sector having spent her early career working directly in a hospital and health authority in Ontario.  Prior to joining EnterpriseHealth, Carly facilitated partnerships across multiple sectors, including community mental health, primary care and housing at the Waterloo- Wellington Local Health Integration Network. Carly also led and supported key strategic projects including on government relations and communications for the largest hospital capital project in the country while at Trillium Health Partners.  At EnterpriseHealth, Carly leads our strategic planning processes from inception to implementation to ensure our clients are always ahead of ever-evolving health system. Carly specializes in in supporting senior leaders and boards work through complex problems and engage their communities while also bridging the gap between operations, communications and government advocacy. Carly holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Queen’s University’s School of Public Policy and an Honours degree in Health Sciences from the University of Western Ontario. Carly is passionate about city building and is a 2020 CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow as well as a TEDxToronto speaker coach.
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Nathan Clark - Senior Consultant, EnterpriseHealth & Western Canada (Click here to read more)

Nathan Clark

Senior Consultant,
EnterpriseHealth & Western Canada

Government Relations, Federal and Provincial Relations, Pharmaceutical Industries, Long-Term Care, and Western Canada

Nathan Clark has a passion for tackling complex challenges in Canada’s health care system leveraging his expertise on the ins and outs of government having worked within the federal government and various provincial governments in Canada. As the former Chief of Staff to the Minister of Health, Seniors, and Active Living in Manitoba and working in the offices of two ministers in British Columbia, Nathan has a deep understanding of the intergovernmental relationships across the country related to the opportunities and challenges of health care in Canada At EnterpriseHealth, Nathan provides valuable insight to clients who are interested in expanding their impact both in Ontario and in Western Canada. When our clients need to reach decision makers, he will not fail to ensure that those connections are made and that the message is catered to the distinctive health landscape of each province.  In addition to his experience within government, Nathan has played key roles on political campaigns, including working on the 2022 Ontario election campaign in the PC War Room and as Health Policy Lead on the 2019 Manitoba PC campaign. Nathan holds a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Political Science and History, from Huron University College at Western University and a Master of Political Management from the Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management at Carleton University.
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Peter Downs - Senior Consultant, EnterpriseHealth (Click here to read more)

Peter Downs

Senior Consultant,
EnterpriseHealth

Reporting, Writing, Media Training, and Storytelling

Peter Downs is an award-winning health journalist with two decades of experience at daily newspapers in Canada.  Peter is a skilled writer and communicator with extensive knowledge about Canada’s health care system. He brings sound news judgment and expert strategic advice to clients who want their voices heard in public affairs and public relations.  Peter spent much of his time as a reporter on the health beat, where he earned the respect of health officials and developed insights in complex and often contentious issues.  At EnterpriseHealth, Peter has led the drafting and development of communications and branding campaigns for not-for-profits, hospitals and medical device companies. He is regularly sought after by senior health executives to be the writer behind their voices.  Peter’s deep understanding of Canada’s evolving media landscape allows him to effectively help clients develop strategies and compelling content to capture the attention of traditional and digital media alike. We count on Peter’s versatility to craft everything from op-eds and media pitches to brand narratives and issues management strategies.
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Kevin Den Heijer - Consultant, EnterpriseHealth (Click here to read more)

Kevin Den Heijer

Consultant,
EnterpriseHealth

Federal Politics, Policy Development, Crisis Communications, Public Safety and Health Promotion

Kevin Den Heijer is a seasoned strategist with a keen understanding of Canadian health policy, and a deep insight into the inner workings of government. Kevin has served key federal cabinet ministers, most recently as a policy advisor to Canada’s Minister of Health where he worked on the country’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy, illicit substances strategy, and the opioid crisis. Prior to moving to Ottawa, Kevin served as issues and operations advisor to several cabinet ministers in the provincial government in Ontario. He has extensive war room experience on political campaigns both provincially and federally, most recently serving as the Liberal Party of Canada’s lead on digital partnerships during the 2021 election campaign. At EnterpriseHealth Kevin combines his experience in navigating through some of the toughest of issues with his broad professional network in Ottawa to ensure that our clients succeed when it’s needed most. Kevin is a valued strategist for our clients across the sector – ranging from mental health and addictions care to primary care and health care procurement and supply chains.  Kevin graduated from the University of Ottawa, having studied political science and communications. Kevin is an avid photographer and dedicates time volunteering on many political campaigns across the country. 
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Alexandra Hilkene - Consultant, EnterpriseHealth (Click here to read more)

Alexandra Hilkene

Consultant,
EnterpriseHealth

Government Relations, Communications, Issues Management

Alexandra Hilkene is a communications expert with a strong grasp of Ontario’s health care system and the provincial political landscape.  As press secretary to Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health during the COVID-19 pandemic, Alexandra was the Minister’s official spokesperson responsible for communicating complex and high-stakes issues to the media and people of Ontario.  In 2022, Alexandra’s communications expertise was leveraged in the successful re-election campaign of Premier Doug Ford as she played a key role in the PC War Room, managing media relations across all 124 local campaigns.  At EnterpriseHealth, Alexandra provides strategic advice to clients to help them build a strong narrative that connects with the right audiences and makes an impact. With extensive experience in crisis and issues management, she supports our clients in navigating communications in high-pressure situations.
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