(BS, Industrial Engineering, ’06; MBA, Finance, ’08)
Q & A:
- What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing learned in that position?
My first job was as a financial analyst for Northwell, working in the financial planning group. In addition to learning a tremendous amount about the business of healthcare, I learned just how important it is to build relationships. There is very little you can accomplish working alone, and you won’t have all the answers yourself. Having a network of colleagues you can call to ask questions, get advice or support, or just brainstorm with is crucial.
- What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
My field of specialty is industrial engineering, and I pursued an MBA in Finance because I felt the combination of the two would be a really strong, balanced skill set. After I graduated with my MBA, I didn’t have a clear idea of what field I wanted to enter. The economy had also slowed to a crawl at that point, and jobs were scarce. After sending out what felt like tons of resumes with no response, I reached out to Professor Sodano for advice. He met with me, reviewed my resume, and then shared it with a few of his contacts, including someone at Northwell. While I didn’t get the first Northwell finance job I interviewed for, I did get a call back when a second spot opened, and the rest is history.
- What advice would you give Hofstra students?
Make a name for yourself for the right reasons. Work ethic is so important. Walk in the door each day with the right attitude and be engaged. Attention to detail is absolutely necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Approach each report, analysis, or presentation you prepare as if it will end up on your CEO’s desk. Effective and frequent communication is crucial, and you need to be able to explain details in a way that is easily understood by all stakeholders.
- In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where do you see your career progressing in the future?
The healthcare industry has been changing rapidly, and I think that pace will accelerate even more due to the COVID pandemic. I enjoy the challenges and opportunities that come along with that evolution, and I look forward to being a part of the future of healthcare delivery.
- What unique experience or qualifications separate you from other candidates?
I hadn’t really considered healthcare as a career option when I first started applying for jobs. Once I got started in the industry, though, I realized just how much opportunity there was for someone with my background. The healthcare industry is evolving at such a rapid pace, driven primarily by scientific and technological change. Unfortunately, the processes and systems being used are not always evolving at the same pace. That is where an industrial engineer can make a significant impact.
- How have your responsibilities as the director of financial operations at Northwell Health changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
During the first COVID wave in spring 2020, everyone’s focus shifted to handling the surge of critically ill patients. From creating more bed capacity and handling emergency room overflow to bringing in additional staff, supplies, and equipment, the goal has been to support our frontline staff as they work tirelessly to care for our patients. The financial impact of the pandemic has been significant. Once the volume began to recede and plateau, our attention shifted to financial recovery as we try to rebuild our normal operations.
- How has your degree in engineering aided you in your career in the medical field?
The most important thing that I took away from my engineering education was how to analyze a problem and think critically. It really showed me the importance of focus and attention to detail. Those lessons are applicable to any industry or role. Even though I am not in a traditional industrial engineering role, I still approach my work with that engineering mindset.
- What is the toughest/hardest part of your job?
The most difficult part of my job is prioritizing the various investments we want to make. As with most businesses, our needs exceed our financial resources, which can be especially challenging when we believe an initiative or project is the right thing to do. A key part of my financial operations role is vetting investments: ensuring they align with the strategic mission and focus of our institution, building the business case, and figuring out how to fund them. Unfortunately, we sometimes have to say no or delay an investment that does not make sense at that point in time.
Michelle Albanese is director of financial operations for Long Island Jewish Medical Center, part of Northwell Health. She is responsible for managing all aspects of the operating and capital budgets for the 583-bed tertiary care facility with 6,500 employees and 4,000 physicians. She also works closely with the clinical and operational departments as well as hospital and health system leadership on strategic initiatives. This includes developing business plans, financial forecasts, and feasibility studies to analyze and support future growth and investment.
Prior to joining LIJ in 2016, Michelle worked in Northwell corporate finance as a member of the financial planning group. Over six and a half years, she progressed from financial analyst to manager within the department. During her tenure with the group, Michelle’s primary responsibilities included working with key stakeholders across the health system to create business plans supporting large-scale capital investments and to prepare detailed financial forecasts used to inform strategic decision-making.
A proud alum, Michelle earned a BS in Industrial Engineering and an MBA in Finance from Hofstra. She is a second-generation Hofstra engineering graduate and takes great pride in carrying on that tradition. In addition to classes and extracurricular activities, Michelle worked for the Dean of Students Office during both her undergraduate and graduate careers.
Michelle has always been fascinated by figuring out how things work, and that curiosity has inspired a passion for lifelong learning and teaching. In addition to her role at LIJ, she is an instructor for Northwell’s leadership development program for frontline leaders and assists with faculty development.