Meet a Dragon: Olivia Magowan
Meet Olivia Magowan, the Chief of Staff at Komodo. She talks about her deep personal connection to healthcare, and why there’s never a dull moment in her job.
What brought you to Komodo Health?
Before Komodo, I was at another healthcare technology firm where I was the first employee hired to help the founders build their business. I was deeply involved in every aspect of the company as it grew. Komodo was relatively further along the development cycle when I joined, but still had tremendous startup energy, agility, creativity, and excitement. I had been watching Komodo Health and its leaders, Arif and Web, and was impressed by what they were building. So when an opportunity emerged to join Komodo as Chief of Staff, I didn’t hesitate. I wanted to be part of a mission-driven team that makes a difference for patients. Even after a particularly difficult day, I know I’m serving a purpose I am proud of.
What drew you to healthcare?
Healthcare is a fascinating industry, and for me, it’s very personal. My father was diagnosed with an extremely rare neuromuscular disease when he was nine years old. His illness has shaped the person I’ve become and (hopefully) given me greater empathy. In all diseases, but particularly in rare ones, good data can be hard to find. A few months after I joined Komodo, I overheard a couple of dragons talking about the very disease my father has and how our Healthcare Map had helped find patients for a drug trial. My heart swelled when I heard that.
It is inspiring to be at an organization that brings data and technology to bear on so many diseases, both common and rare, and ignites and empowers real solutions for patients. I also married into a family of doctors: my husband is a heart surgeon, his parents are both academic physicians, and two of his sisters are veterinarians. I have been exposed to healthcare as a caregiver and supporter in different ways throughout my life.
What makes the Chief of Staff role so unique?
As Chief of Staff, I work closely with our founders, Arif and Web, and our awesome leadership team. Really, I get to work with the entire company. I love my job because I interface with so many of the awesome people who work here and make us who we are as a company. Every day is different, and I love being involved in a wide variety of company initiatives that grow the culture.
Just to give a few recent examples of what I’m working on: I’ve helped spearhead our diversity & inclusion initiative, our work-from-home task force, and our executive recruiting program. I run an executive operations team, lead our internal leadership communications, and organize our annual company retreat, Komodo Week. Most recently, I have taken on a new responsibility as the interim lead for talent acquisition. One of Komodo’s values is to seek growth, and this new position has given me that opportunity personally as well as more broadly to quite literally help Komodo grow as we add new dragons! It's a new challenge for me, and I love that our leadership encourages both me and the rest of the team to grow and flex into new skill sets.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of constantly working from home during 2020?
I’m a social person, so it’s been challenging to work in my apartment all day. I miss the dynamics of our office and the daily interactions with all of my wonderful colleagues. We recently sent out a survey to all of our dragons and, like many other companies, we know our team is working through the unexpected challenges of fully remote work. I have definitely experienced Zoom fatigue and a sense of burnout that comes with no separation between work and home life.
As a member of the work-from-home task force, we’ve come up with some creative solutions to make this time a little easier. We’ve instituted a generous work-from-home stipend for dragons to design their dream home office, half-day Fridays, and meeting-free work blocks. We have been encouraging dragons to “enjoy the ride,” a key Komodo value, and take the time they need to put themselves and their families first. With the holidays around the corner, I’m hopeful we will start 2021 revved up!
Komodo just participated in the Time to Vote initiative. How did the leadership team decide to make Election Day a priority for the company?
We’re privileged to live in a country where we have the right to express our views and vote.
No matter what your politics are, elections affect all of us in one way or another – our friends, our families, and the company. The leadership team felt it was our responsibility as a company to ensure that everyone would have adequate time to vote – particularly amid the additional challenges of voting during the pandemic. Komodo also places a lot of importance on giving back to our community through Komodo Cares. We wanted to encourage all dragons to volunteer in some small way. The opportunity to do good, right now, is more important than ever.
Switching gears a little bit, you just celebrated a “COVID-19 Birthday.” How was it?
I had a Zoom party with my family, with cake and all! My husband and I even ventured out to dinner at a local Japanese restaurant! It felt special to do something so normal again.
What advice would you give to a prospective candidate, or someone looking to make an impact in healthcare at Komodo?
In healthcare, simply put, be ready to be curious, and be ready to be humbled. Both this industry and medicine are constantly changing and there is still so much to learn. But that’s also why it is such an exciting business to work in!
Last question, what is the last show you binge-watched?
I just finished a French TV show called “The Bureau.” It’s a hyper-realistic, psychological, political-thriller series that revolves around the lives of French secret agents. It’s actually based on real-life accounts from former spies and is beautifully written and shot!
To learn more about life at Komodo, click here.