(BA, Psychology, ’04)
Q & A:
- What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
I had two courses that I really enjoyed, for entirely different reasons. Operations Management gave me a great foundational knowledge of how to break down specific functions for analysis, improvement, and design … basically, how to find out how things really work or don’t work. The textbook is still in my possession, and I refer to it periodically. The other course was the MBA Integrative Capstone. I enjoyed working with colleagues on a “real-world” project, and it was a great experience.
- What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing learned in that position?
It was the same job I had while I was attending Hofstra, but that is not to say it wasn’t valuable. While attending Hofstra, and after graduation, I was able to implement the skills and knowledge obtained from my educational experience to complete any project that I was given. In 2011, I was asked to oversee the New York City 911 EMS Division for Northwell Health. It was there that I was able to manage and control operations of a fairly large division and to work with administration on strategic initiatives, something that I had not done before.
- What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
Right now, adult education. I work primarily in the area of emergency medical services and first entered the industry in 1986. Prior to that, I was studying physics, which I quickly came to realize was not something I was ever going to be great at. In 1989, a friend ask me to go with him to work at the Health and Hospitals Corporation as an emergency medical technician for the New York City Emergency Medical Services. The rest is history. Sometimes the career picks you and not the other way around.
- What advice would you give Hofstra students?
Don’t be afraid to try new things and be open to opportunities. When someone comes and asks you to do something you have never done before, don’t dismiss it immediately. Being comfortable doesn’t really help you grow, and everything you do should stretch your goals. It makes life much more interesting. You will never know what you are capable of achieving until you take advantage of the opportunities presented. In the words of Wayne Gretzky … and, yes, I understand the irony of the Islanders once playing next door … “You miss 100% of the shots you never take!”
- In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Inspiring. After being out of school for many years, Hofstra was a fantastic re-introduction to academics that has allowed me to continue on into other areas (public policy and public health). It definitely reinvigorated my desire to learn.
- As the assistant vice president at the Northwell Center for Learning & Innovation Emergency Medical Institute for the past seven years, how do you consistently develop programs and motivate employees?
Wow, that is a really loaded question because I don’t … We do. I have involved myself with a great group of people who are incredibly knowledgeable and experienced. If you want to look smart, surround yourself with the most intelligent and competent people you can. It is then that you (as a group) can develop a culture of adaptability and innovation that allows the organization to create programs people need. You have to be accepting of feedback and criticism, and continuously change things without taking everything personally.
No one has found a way to do something that cannot be improved. Change is the only constant and, just when you think you have a handle on an issue, you will find that the landscape has changed. Your employees need to feel empowered to suggest modifications or new ideas. You will have to let team members risk failure to succeed, and guide and support them when they do fail. This will be where everyone learns.
You have to know when to push back against nonproductive trends. Just because it is popular does not make it right. It’s not sufficient to give people only what they want, without considering what they need. Our relationships with employers give us insight as to what is really needed for the workforce to succeed, and this sometimes comes into direct conflict with what is being proposed in the classroom. You have to be willing to do the unpopular, despite resistance.
Technology is a massive disruptor, and you have to be willing to acknowledge it. What once took years to manifest, now appears within months. However, it’s not enough to just adopt technology unconstrained so you can promote the newest device or development. You have to be conscientious of the potential effects of the technology so you can address unintended consequences of the assimilation.
- What has been a major obstacle you were able to overcome to perform your job?
There are no obstacles, only opportunities. Problem solving and critical thinking are what most employers are looking for in their workforce. They want to be confident that the employee will first attempt to solve a problem before going to someone else for an answer. This is the quintessential learning opportunity for any individual. That is what I personally practice, and what I expect of the people with whom I work. So the major opportunity that I now have is developing people who are the critical thinkers and problem solvers, which are needed every day. This is a daily struggle, since it is so easy for people to say, “Just tell me what to do!”
- Who was the person who most influenced you, and how?
And here is another loaded question … everyone I have met, read, or watched. We are invariably influenced by many people throughout our lives. If you asked me in high school, I would have said Franklin Roosevelt. In college, Albert Einstein. As a younger adult, Robin Williams. As an older adult, my wife, friends, co-workers and colleagues. But if you would like a more specific answer, for the last 14 years, my son Liam.
I think anyone who has a child will tell you that everything changes, and it does. You have no idea what you are willing to do, or put up with, as a parent until is stares you directly in the face. But the most important influence on you is the hope and promise you witness in the child’s evolution to adulthood. I have told my son a number of times that I want to be him when I grow up.
Anthony Conrardy is assistant vice president at the Northwell Health Center for Learning & Innovation, Emergency Medical Institute (EMI). The Center for Learning & Innovation is the corporate university for Northwell Health. Anthony is assistant professor of science education at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, overseeing courses for first and fourth year medical students. He is also an advisory board member for the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business. Anthony has 30+ year history in emergency services, serving as a paramedic in the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY); as a paramedic and operations officer for the Northwell Center for Emergency Medical Services; and as a firefighter, officer, and chief of department for the Centereach Fire Department.