Delivering on a “Client-Obsessed” Mindset — Interview with Wheel Chief Commercial Officer Tim Kollas
Over the last year, I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to building our leadership team at Wheel. As we’ve grown from a startup to a Series B company, we’ve needed to bring on leaders who are comfortable in a fast-paced environment. Who are motivated to tackle some of the most challenging problems in our healthcare system today. And who can approach a problem from all angles with curiosity and empathy.
With that in mind, I’m incredibly excited to share that Tim Kollas has joined the Wheel team as our Chief Commercial Officer. While he hates being called a “healthcare industry veteran,” the definition suits him well. Tim has seen how our healthcare system works across all angles — including digital health, large insurers, and pharmaceuticals. And he knows what it takes to build high-performing teams, develop successful business models, and rally around a client-obsessed mindset.
While his resume speaks volumes, Tim and I immediately connected on the moments in between his career milestones. So I thought it would be fun to sit down with Tim and have our interview series focus on one of our own Wheelies.
What initially inspired you to start working in healthcare?
I got very sick after college and made it through multiple rounds of chemotherapy. I know a lot of people who work in healthcare — like yourself, Michelle — who have had really terrible experiences with the system. I was lucky enough to have two doctors who not only got me healthy but kept me healthy. I’m a living example of what great care looks like.
When I was graduating from college and thinking about where I wanted to start my career, a family friend of mine suggested that I should give healthcare a try based on my personal experience. And I thought, why not? I started out in pharma sales and my career really took off from there.
You’ve been able to see the healthcare industry through several lenses — digital health companies, large insurers, pharmaceuticals. How has that shaped your overall perspective on the healthcare industry?
I consider myself a student of healthcare. I’m curious and love to learn — and there’s always more to learn in healthcare. I haven’t always had a clear sense of the path that I wanted to take, which my career has really benefited from.
If I had stayed in one healthcare vertical, there’s so much about our system I wouldn’t have been able to understand. And if I had only stayed on one side of the business, I wouldn’t have been able to connect all of the dots. Now I have the ability to look at an opportunity from the sales, marketing, and product perspective. And I can understand how one decision can have a ripple effect in another vertical.
How has the pandemic shaped your perspective on the healthcare industry?
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve done a fair amount of reflecting on the early days at 98point6. At the time, everyone was saying the idea of getting care through your phone was crazy. And now we’re seeing 2 in 3 people say they want to continue using virtual care after the pandemic.
I’ve been bullish on digital health and at-home care for quite some time, but the pandemic made this very personal for me. Being able to open my phone and instantly get connected with a doctor when my daughter was feeling sick or when I had a COVID scare. That’s been invaluable.
From the industry perspective, I’m excited to see ideas getting funded that normally would have been passed over. Now that the pandemic has accelerated the overall acceptance of virtual care, my hope is that we’ll continue to see a lot of great ideas and business models move forward.
What drew you to joining Wheel?
Even though I’ve seen how the healthcare system works from a number of angles, Wheel’s focus on the clinician experience is truly unique. I haven’t seen anyone else talking about the clinician perspective, even though everything in healthcare is truly connected to clinicians and their ability to deliver great care.
And of course the opportunity to lead and grow our commercial team. The team was small when I started, but we already have an impressive list of clients who trust us to turn their big ideas into reality. I’m excited to tap into that momentum and fast-forward our growth.
What are you most excited about with Wheel?
We’re already seeing the impact that our clients are having on consumers and enterprises today. We’re part of the ecosystem, and it’s exciting to be part of that success.
I also love that we get the opportunity to work with companies across the spectrum. Some are just like Wheel, growing very fast with very big ideas. Other clients are some of the most successful companies getting into healthcare for the first time. We can learn a lot from them and vice versa.
How are you approaching building your team at Wheel? What’s your top priority?
Our top priority is approaching everything with a client-obsessed mindset. Everything starts and ends with our clients. We need to always be looking for the solutions to questions like how are we going to deliver impact for our clients? How are we going to create a great experience for their customers?
What’s the best or most impactful thing you’ve read lately?
My daughter’s psychiatrist recommended a book to me recently, “When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection.” It examines the mind-body link on our physical health and the role that stress plays in common health conditions. Of course, it’s been an interesting read in light of the pandemic.
Name a device (medical or otherwise) that you can’t live without and tell us why.
I could easily live without my phone or laptop. But I’d have a hard time giving up my golf clubs. Every Saturday I love to get outside and give myself a bit of a mental challenge. There’s a lot of strategy and skill involved with a bit of luck.
I’ve recruited tens of thousands of people throughout my career, and I know first-hand how challenging it can be to find the best person for a role. But I also know how rewarding it can be when you find the person perfectly suited for the opportunity. Someone who checks all the boxes and then some. Tim, we’re so excited to have you on our team!