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From nurse to chief clinical operations officer

Ken Borce leverages Asper MBA for leadership in Manitoba’s healthcare system

April 23, 2024 — 

As Chief Clinical Operations Officer at CancerCare Manitoba, Asper alum Ken Borce [MBA/18] considers health equity a “guiding light” in his work.

“Health equity embodies the basic principle that everyone, regardless of wealth, background, identity, sexual orientation, or circumstances, deserves the opportunity to live a healthy life in a healthy environment,” says Borce. “It requires collective effort and dedication to challenge past and present harms to create a future where equitable care is a reality.”

He began his career journey as a frontline nurse, working in critical care and seeing patients at their most vulnerable. Driven by compassion, commitment and competence in patient care, Borce never took for granted the gravity and “the privilege of caring for patients and their family members in their most vulnerable moments.”

With each shift and new assignment, he recognized how both patient and staff well-being existed in the larger system of public healthcare, and when he was offered his first leadership opportunity, he reflected on what it meant to bring his drive and compassion to a larger scale.

“I found myself drawn to the challenges and complexities of leading a publicly funded health system. As I grew in my career, my desire to affect positive change in a broader sense attracted me to more leadership positions and growth. Pursuing an Asper MBA was really a result of my desire to tackle these complexities and ultimately to get out of my comfort zone, grow and broaden my skillset.”

The Asper MBA offered Borce the tools he sought. He emphasizes how the focus on strategic thinking and leadership development enriched his education, and that the degree certainly delivered on his desire to get out of his comfort zone.

“On day one, I looked around at everyone in their crisp business attire, and I felt like a misfit. I was a healthcare professional surrounded by people with backgrounds in accounting, finance, engineering—disciplines that I knew very little about.

“But what I soon learned was that we were all in the same boat with that feeling. We were all here to embark on the next stage of our professional journey with a lot of excitement but a lot of unknowns.”

As he reflects on how the MBA informs his work today, Borce notes that his network stands out. The diversity that prompted MBA first-day imposter syndrome has become an asset, with professional contacts and friends—leaders across disciplines—whom he can call for support, ideas and fresh perspectives.

“Ultimately, completing my MBA, that was a personal and professional investment, and it was really worthwhile.”

Given Borce’s humility and compassion as a leader, the program may well be a public investment as he brings his experience, insight and commitment to continuous improvement to CancerCare Manitoba. Two in five Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and each diagnosis affects family, friends and a community surrounding them.

“Cancer is more than just a physical disease,” Borce explains. “It transcends the physical. So, I’m fueled by a deep sense of responsibility to help shape the future of cancer services in Manitoba. To innovate, to optimize and to ensure that every decision we make is driven by the pursuit to provide the best possible care to Manitobans with cancer and their family members.”

In professional bios, Borce usually includes a promise that he will “do ordinary things extraordinary well.” Though he remains humble in his sense of duty, purpose and his career journey so far, with enough prompting, he can admit that as an internationally educated nurse, arriving in Canada from the Philippines with his family, pursuing leadership roles that he had never imagined for himself and continuing to move out of his comfort zone, it is not entirely unreasonable to suggest that he is also doing something extraordinary.

The next Asper MBA application deadline for Canadian and US students is May 1, 2024. Explore the program here.

Learn more about Ken Borce’s MBA journey in the video below.

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