Diva Tech Talk interviewed musician-turned-technologist, Theresa Ancick, Manager, Enterprise Business Intelligence at Beaumont Health Systems (https://www.beaumont.org), the largest health system in Michigan. Theresa’s predilection for technology is genetic. Her father was a second-level executive at Michigan Bell (later acquired by AT&T: www.att.com) in the troubleshooting department. After high school, Theresa sang in a band, and traveled around the Midwest. “I had a lot of fun. But my friends were graduating from colleges and getting married. I went ‘oh my gosh, I think I might be a loser’ and decided to get off the couch and try and get a life of some sort.” That new career life began with a brief stint as a waitress, “while I tried to figure things out.” Then Theresa selected a job “specifically in computers” at Electronic Laser Forms, in Fraser, Michigan, who focused on producing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage forms “because I felt it was going to get me farther in life, ultimately.”
Next, Theresa was hired by Gentry Machinery Builders, in Troy, Michigan to automate that small company’s accounting system. Theresa learned everything she could about Gentry’s accounting system (payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, general ledger) as well as how to quickly computerize all the functions and reports. “Tony Robbins (https://www.tonyrobbins.com) talks about discovering what your passions are; when you get involved with something and lose track of time. I loved it. It was like putting puzzles together.”
This quickly blossomed into Theresa’s first entrepreneurial venture, when the vendor who sold Gentry their computers (Michigan Computer Solutions: http://michcomp.com/) recognized her talents; suggested she provide the same services to other companies in the machine industry; and referred her to her first new customer. That customer “was so thankful that he sent me to every one of his friends! Within two weeks, I had to quit my ‘day job.’ “
Naming her consulting company, Accura Business Services Corporation, Theresa did not look back, (“it was a wave that took over me”). “I was very popular in the tooling industry but I also served landscape companies, libraries, restaurants, over 200 companies, with their CPAs. It was an education I would not have gotten at Harvard.” Theresa gave up her company after the birth of her daughter, who suffered from the very rare “Caffey disease:” infantile cortical hyperostosis.
No insurance company would cover her daughter, so to qualify for family health benefits, she took a job at the Help Desk at Macomb-Oakland Regional Center (https://www.morcinc.org). Theresa dove into their billing system, based on her recent experiences and her penchant for “just figuring things out.” In 9 months, they stabilized the MORC processes; moved from their antiquated tape-to-tape system; and became the one of the first mental health non-profits in Michigan to fully automate their billing system. Theresa worked at MORC for 10 years, eventually becoming the Director, Applications and Data Management. Along the way, she became aware of data warehousing and its intrinsic benefits to any business or non-profit operation. “It was this intriguing thing on the horizon,” she said. To further explore that technology, Theresa moved to Oakland County Community Mental Health (https://www.occmha.org/ ), where new data warehouse initiatives were starting. She saw this as her “perfect job,” because “we had fun, and worked hard. There was a lot of respect; we became aware that the more we built each other up, the better we all were. We were all successful.” Eventually Theresa led an 11-person team responsible for state-of-the art business intelligence and billing systems for OCCMH. After her daughter made it to her healthier teenage years, Theresa also went back to school at Baker College for her degree.
After OCCMH, she worked for Blue Care Network, an arm of Blue Care/Blue Shield of Michigan (https://www.bcbsm.com/ ) and then for Sun Communities (www.suncommunities.com ) , concentrating on business intelligence projects. She then migrated to Credit Acceptance Corporation (www.creditacceptance.com) as Manager, Data Warehouse. From Credit Acceptance, she just recently moved to Beaumont Health System: “I feel like I am moving to an opportunity that was meant for me --- the impact for data analytics to have a positive effect on human lives.”
Theresa’s entrepreneurial advice to others considering starting businesses is: learn to delegate, “think bigger,” stay in learning mode, when you need to know something ask for help, and “when you hire somebody to do something, get out of their way.” Along the way, she saw companies falter because “they tended to micro-manage and they couldn’t get into the next thing.” In addition, for any career, she strongly recommends that everyone get a variety of mentors to assist and guide them; and “learn how to speak with dignity and respect at all times. You can put exactly what you want out in the Universe fearlessly, and the possibilities present themselves.”
A consistent giver, Theresa does food drives for the Gleaners Community Food Bank (www.gcfb.org/ ). As an open mic host, she also organizes two major fundraising events per year for multiple sclerosis. Additionally, she works with the St. Vincent and Sara Fisher Center (https://www.svsfcenter.org/ ) to provide GED testing for people who cannot afford it (“a cause very dear to my heart”).
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