Two years ago, Jose Castillo was living in Caracas, Venezuela, with his wife Cristina and their three daughters. A civil engineer by training, he had built his life and career working for a major engineering and construction company and teaching steel structural design at the local university.
But Venezuela had its challenges.
When NC State University offered Jose scholarships to pursue an MBA, he decided it was time to move on and explore other opportunities.
During the program, Jose was exposed to several case studies, many related to the healthcare industry. As an engineer, he was trained to see and understand the world as processes that are interconnected, with a well-defined structure. Healthcare gave him the opportunity to see the world differently.
“During my operations classes, I learned that processes can have flaws in their design that impact the final outcome, but by applying different techniques and concepts, a person can identify those issues, fix them and improve the results,” Jose said. “The healthcare industry has plenty of these issues to be solved.”
Jose also learned the importance of analytics in today’s world and decided to pursue a certification in decision analytics while he was completing his MBA.
“I loved that analytics provides the opportunity to translate sometimes very abstract concepts into real insights,” he said.
After the first year of his program, Jose was looking for an internship opportunity. Despite his background in engineering, he decided to get out of his comfort zone and try something different. He also drew from his personal experiences. Jose’s father suffered from cancer and his nephew passed away from complications of a liver transplant. Jose clearly saw flaws in the system through these experiences, which ultimately led to his decision to enter healthcare.
“I really saw the limits of care in Venezuela,” Jose said, “and I wanted to make a difference for the better in people’s lives.”
He decided to take an internship at Blaze Advisors and immediately loved it. Today, he serves as a vice president at the company with a focus on project management.
A current project involves helping a client to implement new technology to monitor care to residents in an assisted living facility and the engagement of those patients and staff. Of importance is the analytics piece – combining real-time data from multiple sources to bring insights to the facility’s administration and the residents’ families.
“The healthcare system in the U.S. is very complex,” Jose said. “There are many actors. But I believe there’s a way to make the process better in general, for the good of patients.
“I really enjoy working at Blaze because they not only understand complex health issues such as behavioral health challenges but are also implementing real and actionable solutions to provide better care to patients in general. I think people are finally understanding that clinical and behavioral health issues are related and can’t be treated in isolation, and that’s one area where Blaze is providing real solutions. I want to be part of that journey.”
Jose misses his family in Venezuela, and the weather in North Carolina can be a little challenging at times, but he, Cristina and their daughters – Valentina, 11, Isabella, 8, and Daniela, 3 – have found their home here.
“The people are really friendly,” Jose said. “At home I was always concerned about crime, but here our girls are free to roam and explore more.
“We exchanged some things for others, but it has all been worth it.”