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Life After Bing

Staci Romeo ‘03, MBA ‘05: Executive Director of HealthlinkNY

Meet Staci Romeo '03, MBA '05. Staci was recently named the executive director of HealthlinkNY, which operates the HIE (health information exchange) and works to create healthier communities through NYS Population Health Improvement (PHIP) grants for 13 counties spanning the Hudson Valley, Catskills and Southern Tier of New York. Staci took a nontraditional student route, first obtaining her associate's degree, then working full time. She eventually came to Binghamton for her bachelor's and master's degrees (on Fridays and Saturdays) while getting married and raising a family. Get inspired by this powerful woman and how she made it all work!

1. When did you realize you wanted to go into this field?

I really didn’t have long-term goals of entering the health industry. After I spent nearly 20 years in manufacturing management, I was looking for a change. Healthcare and technology are both growing industries, and HealthlinkNY is a marriage of both. And we're changing the practice of medicine. HealthlinkNY allows all of your doctors to share your full medical history so they can provide better care. This field didn't exist when I was in school. I majored in human development and entered the Executive MBA program, which consisted of classes held half day on Fridays and all day on Saturdays, for 18 months. It was all on site and in person with a professor.

2. Do you feel like Binghamton University prepared you for what you’re doing now?

Absolutely. There is zero chance that I could do what I am doing now if I hadn't gotten my MBA from Binghamton.

3. What was the most impactful class you took at Binghamton University?

I took a business strategy class, where we focused on use cases through simulations. In the Executive MBA program we were assigned to a team for 18 months with individuals from all different backgrounds. My team had an engineer with two doctorates, an individual whose family owned a video rental store (among others) -- so very different individuals in the group. Our team was tasked with taking a real-life business situation that would happen to an existing company, and we’d analyze the background issues and had to make a big decision to solve the problem. It was great because there were no wrong answers. It wasn't about the answer you came up with; you were judged on the path you took to arrive at the answer, what information you considered important and the process of making your decision. I learned that having people with various backgrounds was a truly valuable thing in how we looked at these situations.

4. What are common mistakes that students or candidates make when trying to succeed in this field?

The biggest mistake that students could make is to pigeonhole themselves into one career. In this situation, in health information technology, it's saying “I’m not tech, therefore I shouldn't go for the job.' We have team members with master of social work (MSW) degrees, we have an employee who was previously a pharmacist, we have employees in sales, finance and marketing -- so just because you aren’t tech doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for students in this industry. Our Community Network, (the other side of our business) works on finding ways to improve health outcomes for our community. Although the two sides of our business are very different, they both save lives.

5. Who would you say had the greatest influence on your career -- teacher, colleague, boss, family member -- and what did you learn from that person?

My mother-in-law, Marianne Romeo. She and I worked together before I married her son. We worked for Maple-Vail Press in Kirkwood NY, which closed long ago, but my mother-in-law worked there for 40 years. She started there in the typing pool and in the end she was the head of scheduling for the entire plant. She and her team were responsible for printing half a million books in one week. She was (and is) tough as nails, and she was one of the first women there that broke the glass ceiling. Any time I had a question about succeeding as a woman in business, or just as a person in business, I went to her.

6. What is the biggest piece of advice you can give to students interested in this field?

I would tell students not to pigeonhole themselves. Get the skills you need while you’re in school and then go out and apply them. I didn’t know that HealthlinkNY existed when I graduated. One of my professors in the MBA program said you should expect to have three complete career shifts over the course of your working life, so be sure to have the skills to navigate those changes.

7. Are there mistakes you’ve made during your career, and if so, what lessons have you learned from them?

Yes. Looking back, had I known how hard it was going to be to leave school, get a full-time job and then go back to school while working the full-time job, I wouldn’t have stopped school; I would have gone straight through. I worked full time, I got married and started a family, all while earning my MBA. My husband and I worked together to earn that degree. I don’t think I could have gone through it without my support network, but had I known how hard it was going to be, I would have continued my education straight through. That being said, If I had to do it again, I still would. The degree was worth it.

Carolyn Bernardo is an advancement communications manager at Binghamton University. As a Binghamton native, she is passionate about the area and about the University. Have questions, comments or concerns about the blog? Email us at social@binghamton.edu.