Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives
University of California – Riverside School of Medicine
We caught up with Vladimir Oge to discover more about him, what he’s up to, and what we can learn from him.
Briefly describe your current role.
My main role is to direct UC Riverside School of Medicine’s Strategic Initiatives Unit and provide strategic leadership in the areas of internal communications, events management, community/external engagement, marketing, and public relations. My office is responsible for managing our school’s webpage, social media accounts, and graphic design needs and for planning and executing our special events (e.g., Commencement, White Coat Ceremony, Open House). Additionally, I provide the Dean and other senior leaders with writing support in the development of executive briefings, presentations, proposals, legislative reports, and other related strategic communications. With our school continuing to grow as we celebrate our 10th anniversary this year, our strategic communications plan is heavily centered on raising our national profile.
Briefly describe your career journey and what led you to institutional advancement in academic medicine.
Shortly after earning my master’s in public health, I started my career in health promotion in higher education when I accepted a health educator role at my alma mater, the University of Florida. Just as I was getting my feet wet, an opportunity presented itself, and I was promoted to a director role. This was a pivotal moment in my leadership journey, as I was tasked with guiding strategic efforts around student health outcomes. Soon after, I landed a similar role at Georgia Tech and inherited a “blank canvas,” as the unit had been left vacant and all positions needed to be filled. Building a unit from the ground-up was no easy task, but it was incredibly rewarding to hire my own team and develop a strategic plan from scratch. My proudest achievement was establishing a campus coalition that would go on to influence health policies, coordinate programming, and increase awareness around key health issues—mental health, substance abuse, disordered eating, and sexual assault. Fifteen years into my career, I began seeking my next professional challenge.
Realizing that my passion for strategic communications leadership had been a common thread throughout my career, I sought opportunities where I could put my communications leadership skills to the test, while still supporting the needs of vulnerable communities. Through a chance encounter, I was introduced to academic medicine and, upon further research, I learned how much the field aligned with my interests and experiences.
What innovation or trend in the field inspires or motivates you?
I’m really interested in the ongoing discussions around Generative AI (e.g., ChatGPT, Midjourney). I enjoy learning about and experimenting with the various tools and applications. Even in its infancy, I believe it’s helping to remove barriers for people who are interested in content creation or just generally looking for time-saving ways to be more productive.
What is the best career advice you were given and how have you used it?
The best advice I’ve received is to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. As I’ve discovered, this is typically where most personal and professional growth occurs. This advice has been extremely helpful during moments where I’ve led projects and activities that I initially thought were well outside of my education or experience. As a result, my skillset has expanded tremendously, and I’ve gained more confidence in my ability to tackle new challenges.
What advice do you have for other institutional advancement professionals in academic medicine?
Continue developing your people skills and work to sustain positive relationships. I’m a firm believer in the power of collaboration. While we may each approach relationship-building differently, some important components that I personally strive for include—
• Finding common ground
• Being authentic
• Showing compassion
• Trusting others
• Respecting differences
• Leading with kindness
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