Season 4
31 Minutes

E119 | Geoffrey M. Roche | All The Ways In Which Culture Matters

Geoffrey Roche is an executive in the healthcare industry who currently serves as the first Director of Workforce Development for Siemens in North America. Geoffrey is the son of a German-born nurse and a dedicated father to three sons. He is a powerful strategist in Healthcare who believes in creating change by fostering meaningful relationships. Geoffrey has already had an indelible impact on the healthcare field with his heart-centered approach - and he has several great acts ahead in his future.

Links in this episode:


To help make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who like to read rather than listen to podcasts, here are our show notes.

These show notes come via the service. The transcription is imperfect. But hopefully, it’s close enough – even with the errors – to give those who aren’t able or inclined to learn from audio interviews a way to participate.

Geoffrey M. Roche  00:00

As young children, we got to see my mom go to community college. And every time she would go to community college to become a nurse, she would drop my brother and I off it at school daycare, which for us was like preschool. What I learned from her in that journey and in that experience was never give up, and always persist.

Achim Nowak  00:22

Welcome to the MY FOURTH ACT PODCAST. I’m your host, Achim Nowak, and I have conversations with exceptional humans, who have created bold, and unexpected lives. If you like what you hear, please subscribe on any major podcast platform, so you won’t miss a single one of my inspiring guests. And please consider posting an appreciative review. Let’s get started. I am just delighted to welcome Geoffrey Roche to the MY FOURTH ACT PODCAST. Jeffrey is an executive in the healthcare industry, who currently serves as the Director of Workforce Development in North America for Siemens, I love the brand name of Jeffrey’s particular business unit Healthineers. Jeffrey is a powerful strategist in healthcare, who believes in creating change by fostering meaningful relationships, he has already had an indelible impact on the healthcare field, with his very heart centered approach. And I know he has several great acts ahead in his future. Welcome, Jeffrey.

Geoffrey M. Roche  01:37

Thank you for having me. So wonderful to be here.

Achim Nowak  01:39

I’m so happy to have this conversation. One thing I asked all my guests, when you were a young man growing up either a boy or teenager, and people always want to know, what do you want to be? How did you answer that? What was in your mind?

Geoffrey M. Roche  01:57

Yeah, you know, it’s so interesting. I to this day, I remember it very well. And my family will remind me this often, when I was young, I always said I want it to be the President of the United States. People actually will regularly say to me, I hope one day that happens, but that was always my dream. As a young child.

Achim Nowak  02:17

I love so much about that answer. And I want a response from my work in the corporate world. I coach CC with the C suite executives, and they’re often asked, like, what’s your next step? Or what do you want to be three years from now? And most of them say, the next title in the chain only wants nobody does somebody say No, I actually want to be the CEO. It takes courage to claim a big vision. So I applaud you for it. I have a bunch of just things, I’m very interested in learning about you one thing, as we get started, in your professional path, what drew me to you is you committed to continuous learning you words like meaning and purpose, which can become cliches, if not properly examined about words that really matter to you. And I wanted to speak with you because those are all words that matter. To my listeners at any age, this is truly lifelong stuff. Now, you very clear, and you emphasize the fact that you’re the son of a nurse, you’ll yourself are the father of three young sons. So I’m curious, when your mother is a nurse, what are some things you learn from her either explicitly or implicitly?

Geoffrey M. Roche  03:31

My mom was, I always say such an inspiration for my brother and I, as young children, we got to see my mom go to community college. And every time she would go to community college to become a nurse, she would drop my brother and I off it at school daycare, which for us was like preschool. What I learned from her in that journey, and in that experience was never give up. And always persist. Because earlier, she had a chance to go to college didn’t make it didn’t do it dropped out and just didn’t see an opportunity. But she always had a love for serving. When she had the opportunity to go back. She did. But she was doing it as in many ways as a single mom, because at the time my parents were going through a divorce. She was doing that, while she was also going through that and raising my brother and I and so there was so much I learned, then fast forward into her time as a nurse. There’s a lot that I learned to my mom would regularly talk about the importance of communicating. Even as a young child, I can remember her talking about the importance of her talking with her colleagues. And then fast forward I got to work with many of her colleagues. And so it’s very interesting that I had that chance. I also learned a lot about hard work and determination. Because I can remember my mom, literally, you know, always making sure we had everything we needed to do to go to school after working a night shift after being on her feet all that time. but never ever missing a chance to be with us. And my mom would regularly say, if she was sitting here right now, she would never have been able to do that without her mom, my alma. So I see a lot of in my mom, what I saw in my Alma which is extremely special for me because my Alma was my best friend. From the moment I came into this world into the moment she left the world. She was everything to me. And so I see a lot of my mom and my alma,

Achim Nowak  05:23

I appreciate you using the word OMA, which is the German word for grandmother. And we both have German roots. And my kids, I call your old me, which is an endearing version of Oh, my was the same word you just talked about? So the chain of teaching and caretaking, like the familial chain. So with your three young sons, what do you hope you’re teaching them or modeling for them around being, I would say, a dad and a leader?

Geoffrey M. Roche  05:52

Yeah. As so many of your listeners know, and all of us can appreciate. There’s no greatest blessing or gift than being a parent. But it’s also not easy work. But when I look at what I hope my children are learning through me, and through all the work, that I do, is several things, one, to be who you are. That’s really, really important to me, and I rarely talk to them about that. I rarely highlight how important us as a family, understanding our cultural background is also understanding why we do what we do. And so I’ll give me an example. My oldest is nine. And he said to me recently, he said, Daddy, he’s my classmate, Googled you. And he said, you’re famous. And I immediately said to my son, not famous. I said, I’m simply doing work that I’m passionate about. And then he went on, he said, but he saw a picture of you and me. And I said, Yeah, and he looked at me, he said, Oh, it was when we did the 5k. Together. And we both achieved our personal records. And I said, Exactly, I said, because that’s something that we all achieve wanted to achieve. And it’s important for us to highlight that he was just so happy. His friend saw that in all the things that he could have Googled, that was one of the first things that showed, the other thing I would just say is, I also hope that they see and learn my desire, like my mother to be of service, but to do it through leadership, and to do it through authentic relationships that are truly genuine. And truly, as you refer to early, meaningful, and also purposeful,

Achim Nowak  07:31

you’re used to wonderful words or phrases. One is to be yourself. But you also have talked already about cultural heritage. And I think since we both have German roots, I’m gonna shamelessly stereotype the German culture, because old school German culture through my lens doesn’t always want you to be fully who you are, and you’re supposed to conform in your expectations. So it takes almost breaking away from that every listener will have their own culture and your own history behind it. How important was the culture? Or were there parts of you that had to rebel against what you saw about the culture? You

Geoffrey M. Roche  08:09

know, it’s a really interesting answer, right? Because I work in a German company, so much of what you said, I also see organizationally at times, all right, to your exact point, I can, as a young child, look back in my memories, and remember, how structured how regimented how not personal relatives of mine were. But I’ll tell you, you know, what was interesting about that, is I saw a total different element. With my home, I saw a total different element with some of my tantas not so much my oppa not so much my uncle’s are

Achim Nowak  08:48

going very German on me, Jeffrey, thank you, you

Geoffrey M. Roche  08:51

know, like, just very, very interesting elements. But I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t say I had to rebel. Because I will tell you that my mother, because my mother was extremely close to her mom, my Alma was, probably if she went back in time, some of her family members would have thought, oh my gosh, she’s a radical. But she was a very, very different person when it came to this. And if I learned from anybody the importance of authenticity, and being who you were, it was from her every point in my life that I can remember with her. She was mentoring me, coaching me, teaching me about the importance of never fraying from who I was, and never letting people take that away from me. And I see so much of that well, in other aspects of my family. And it’s just something that I feel so grounded in that I want to make sure that I’m part that in my voice because we know this is a tough world. And we know that if don’t have that conviction, it can be even more difficult.

Achim Nowak  09:53

I’m chuckling as I’m listening to you because my grandmother Omi was a total iconoclast. I also I understood that she got judged by some of the neighbors for being a little weird. She didn’t care, it was nice to see that, and I loved her. I’d love for you to connect some dots from me, because we’re already speaking about values that are important to you. Probably some values that you’re interviewing and your sons. And I think being a successful leader in an organization also means we are clear on what some core values are. We articulate them, and we help them grow and blossom. So if you would connect some dots between like, being a dad to your sons and and viewing values, and how you then do that in an organization where you also a value based leader.

Geoffrey M. Roche  10:47

Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, you hear a lot in leadership that, at times, maybe you’re going to be different in the professional versus personal. I have never believed that. In fact, the teams that I’ve led, the teams that I’ve gotten to know, when I’ve been their leader, will regularly Tell me, what they see in me, professionally, is what they know of me, personally. Now, not everyone I’ve led has seen me personally, but many have, in fact, I have a colleague that I have worked with, for literally my entire career, in some way, shape, or form. And she will regularly say to me, Wow, has it been amazing to see your journey from when you started your career to where you are today. But she will always tell me, you’ve never changed one thing. When she sent this to me, I kind of was like, oh, boy, what is this? Like? Are we going to the notebook or something here? And she was like, you’ve never changed who you are, and what you care about? I’ll tell you, I get a little emotional when I think about it, because she was such an inspiration in my career and has always been. And about a year and a half ago, her daughter asked me if I would officiate her daughter’s wedding, which absolutely didn’t question a moment if I would do that. Because her daughter said to me, you meant the world to my mother at a time in our life when we needed it. And the irony is that she was at time also, you know, going through a divorce, we work together. And ultimately, I was able to get her promoted into leadership role. And you know, which made a big difference as a single mom with a daughter and does just a phenomenal story. But she always reminds me of that connection. And that’s really what I always try to make sure it’s threaded personally and professionally is that important aspect.

Achim Nowak  12:41

As you’re talking, I’m thinking of a phrase that I hear in a lot of companies where I work, and some people love this phrase, and some people cringe, which is sort of bring your whole self to work, right. And obviously, it means full self with some healthy boundaries. Right. So this will blabber about everything at work. But that’s what I was thinking of in the best kind of way. As you were talking, I also believe that we all regardless of age or circumstances, succeed more in life if we bring more of who we are to every encounter with other humans, because your mom was a nurse and and I had a it’s been public about I had a heart valve replacement surgery last year. So I was constantly cared for by nurses. And gosh, it I appreciate the experiences. But I’m worried that different nurses have different titles, I happen to believe you can be a leader, whether you have the title or not. But if you were to give some guidance from your experience in healthcare, and from then on as your mother around, how can maybe a nurse who doesn’t have the big fancy title, be a leader every day and how she or he shows up at work and serves him

Geoffrey M. Roche  13:52

and this is a topic I’m very passionate about because not only is my mother, a nurse, but my first CEO in healthcare was a nurse, I should say, as a nurse. I’ve always been intrigued in my time in healthcare, and in higher education, where I’ve developed nursing programs, worked with clinical team members, etc. That so many nurses just don’t identify themselves as a leader. In fact, when I’ve taught nursing students, I’ve always asked them, Do you consider yourself a leader? And most say no. And then when we unpack that, I asked him a couple follow ups. Do you transform care? Do you help in the delivery of care that ultimately saves a life or at least helps in the process of saving life? Do you lead the transitions of care? Do you coordinate among many different departments for all the aspects of that delivering care and the goal? Yes, yes, yes. I said, You’re leading. In fact, you’re leading more than some of those that have that quote unquote title of leading, because not only are you leading you’re doing the work you’re seeing it through, you’re connecting it, and you’re finishing it. I regularly will tell nurses, don’t let anybody tell you and don’t let any kind of status quo make you think you’re not a leader because you are. I look at my own mom. We’ve had many conversations where she’ll say to me, I wasn’t leading them. And I’ll say, Mom, you were part of a team that helped help develop a NICU, neonatal intensive care unit. Think about the impact. And she’ll say, Yeah, I said, That’s leadership. Now, the irony is that fast forward, I got to be part of a team that grew and expanded that NICU. Some of the documents I saw on on it, had my mom on it, which was such an amazing experience. I regularly will tell people, this is where I think at times, we’ve gotten leadership wrong in some leadership books in the way we teach about it, especially in health care. It’s been so title, so role based, and it’s got to change because the future is a very different one,

Achim Nowak  15:57

as I’m listening to you, because you are also responsible for professional growth and development in your role right now. And, again, I’ve heard two different perspectives on that. One is the internal one, the external one internal one, meaning and Kasanka. When you say this, for you in advance here, you need to ask for stuff you need to initiate, if you want to mentor ask for it, if you want trainings, ask for it. And other companies say is, we have a roadmap, these are the classes you need to take this is what you need to do. This is how we develop our people. Where do you fall on in your thinking around those two perspectives,

Geoffrey M. Roche  16:34

I fall very differently. First of all, I absolutely believe there’s some responsibility on each of us as a professional. But I do also believe there’s a tremendous amount of responsibility on the organization. And so I really fall in the middle of that. I strongly believe that an organization, if they’re truly committed to career mobility, which we know equals organizational mobility and performance, then they’re going to embed that. And they’re not going to expect because not everybody, if we think about equity, is going to have the same opportunity to be in position, as say I was, I fall very much in the idea that if we truly want to transform an organization, or transform the work we do, we have to be intentional. from a leadership standpoint, we have to help those that we want to grow mentor, coach, empower encouraged to get to there. That’s truly where I fall in. I know sometimes people will tell you an organization that I’ve been in, I’m probably a little bit of a black sheep in that approach, because I come across as being a little too much for the employee II, but tell you why I had the experience of going from being an employee into middle management, and then into senior and executive leadership in healthcare. And what I saw is that we were not spending as much time thinking about the the more entry level, the more junior level, just despise that, because it’s the future. Wow, that’s really why I’m so passionate on it as well.

Achim Nowak  18:02

It’s a perfect segue to talking about your own investment in yourself and your growth, I know that you have just started working toward a PhD in education. And I remember I got my master’s degree in my 40s late. And we’ll be honest, it was five years part time, and I was happy to get it done. And I said, I cannot I don’t have the stamina to get a PhD. Again, you have a family, you have three sons, you have a lot of professional responsibility. How do you make decisions about your own personal development like this? As

Geoffrey M. Roche  18:36

we all know, education without question isn’t an investment. But when I look at the work that I do, and the opportunity for impact around purpose and meaning in the work that I do, there’s no question of, you know, I automatically could say, I don’t really have the time. That’s 100% accurate. But what’s important in there is continuous learning. And development for me has been a thread throughout my career, where I have seen true transformation occur. It’s also a place where so many of the leaders that I aspire to grow into, and continue to learn from have reminded me that you as a leader have to continuously grow and develop when I think about it’s one of the reasons why have I done I’ve done so many executive level certificates and so many other certificate type programs because they are really rooted in that continuous learning and growth. But when I think of the the epitome of the terminal element of that with as passionate as I am on leadership, there’s a piece of me that really wants to dig in, further understand the theories and begin to maybe share some additional ideas and experiences that I’ve had. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing it now because I’ve had the opportunity to be in law leadership roles I’ve had the opportunity to be coached and mentored and encouraged. And I do believe we have to be thinking about some of these aspects very different part of it is very much around that. I will also say, I think it’s an important back to my family, it’s certainly an important element back to my boys, because while they may be in elementary school, today, it is really important for me to remind that every step of that journey has a huge impact on the future act of your life. And so, for example, they’re doing homework, I’m doing homework, and some people have well, that’s crazy. Well, the reality of it is, is that it also is a way for me to encourage them to do their homework is and then I also, you know, to be honest, will be very thoughtful around when, when they are not, for example, doing I don’t have my now because I need to spend that time with them, I will do mine in the evenings or I will do my when I’m flying or when I’m traveling, you know, for work and those types of things. But it is definitely important for me. And there’s a piece of it, that reminds me of what my mom had to do. This has been a long journey. I know I shared with you before that. I actually started a doctorate program several years ago, earlier on. And what I learned was that it wasn’t the right program for me. And it also wasn’t the right time for me. I felt as if I didn’t have as much that I could contribute to the experience at that time compared to now. Because

Achim Nowak  21:22

we both continued our formal education past our 20s, you know, and it’s just a testament, I think, hearing us about the power of having the courage to go back to formal schooling, if we are called to do that. No, I have to go there right now. Because you, you said when you were a teenager, you wanted to be the president. But what I’m thinking about, you’re going back and getting a PhD in education. And if you were to be brutally honest, ideally, what playground Do you want to play in with that degree?

Geoffrey M. Roche  21:54

There’s definitely a moment in my life, where I will serve in public office, that will probably be a time when my children are older, because it’s just an it’s just the type of place that isn’t the easiest when you’ve got young kids. That’s always been a passion of mine. I’ve served on our school board previously, for a term, not a partisan office without question, but certainly very important. I do believe that our nation requires leaders of a different quality. I do believe our system requires leaders of very different qualities. At the same time, I will tell you, for example, that dream and aspiration, kind of had a neat little icing on the cake a few years ago, when I was invited to meet our President, Joe Biden, and I took my son with me, always had a dream of meeting a sitting US President, again, for the respect of the office, but also for so much of what that has meant to my family, as you know, having emigrated from Germany to America to seek the American dream. And I will tell you, that moment still sits in my son’s eyes to this day. So while I probably won’t be a US president, because certainly getting to that is a challenge. I do aspire to serve as a CEO of an organization or college university president, because there’s a piece of me that still has that passion for education, it would have to be the right place at the right time, and certainly the right board, because we all know that the role of shareholders and boards etc, can be a big difference in whether you can truly enact transformational change. And that would be an important evaluation for me,

Achim Nowak  23:35

I get a really good sense listening to you just what matters to you, and what animates you, which is really cool. One thing that I’ve learned about myself, and I think many people are in this as we move into another act in life or another role and responsibility, there are things we have to give up that we can’t keep doing. We have to start saying no to stuff, even though we’re really good at it, and people want us to keep doing it. So if you think ahead, and this is just really dreaming a little bit. What are some things you would like to see yourself do more of if there was a magic wand and you can create it? And what are some things you would like to think to yourself do less so you

Geoffrey M. Roche  24:15

know, let me start first with the less of and then I’ll get to them rob the you know, when I think of less of I definitely have learned I definitely reached a point in my career, where reporting to another person is probably a thing more of the past, going forward. And a lot of that is because I’ve just learned that I’m at a point in my life where I need to help create that culture. I need to really be in more of an influential opportunity to help create that organizational culture that can truly be transformational in the way that I’ve been able to do with the teams that I have led and been a part of. What more of is about two and a half years ago, I reached an aspiration. goal of for the first time, you know my career being invited to speak at national conferences, and I can remember early in my career, I always think, Oh, that would be so cool if that was me. And then for so long, I thought, yeah, that’s not going to be me. And then it happened, you know, now had happens more often. And what I have learned, in fact, one of the times I did it, someone came over to me and said, You missed your calling. Oh, really? And they said, you would be great on TV. Oh, okay. Well, I used to actually be on TV a lot when I was on my Oscar days, because I was our spokesperson. But when I think about it, though, there’s definitely something that I love about public speaking and something that I love about the connection in those venues. And so I absolutely hope to do more of that. From the vantage point of it, Can it move things forward? Can it advance goals and objectives in a very impactful way, then I would want to do more of it. Because

Achim Nowak  25:50

we’re talking, we’ve just been talking a lot about expanding, I would call it expanding your professional lungs, and having the chance to have a bigger impact, which is beautiful. Now, in my own life, it says here, just the story when I was in my mid 30s, I took a year off and live moved to a small island, the Caribbean, Tobago, and I became a really good windsurfer. Wow, sir, for a year, now I had the privilege of doing it because I didn’t have three sons to take care of. So you can’t make that decision. But that experience was more transformational for me, for example, on going back and getting my masters, which I’m most proud of. So in that spirit, other hobbies, other interests, other things, you know, if I had the time, it would be really cool to pursue this too, and investigate it. I

Geoffrey M. Roche  26:41

would say, I love to travel. And so if I had more time, I would certainly without question travel a ton more than I do. Now. The you know, the other piece of that, I think is, you know, additional things really around mindfulness. And, you know, like you shared your story, I lost my father, to a sudden cardiac arrest. You know, that experience for me, was, without question, a very strong reminder to me to really prioritize my self care. But there’s always opportunities for me to do that more. And so, you know, a lot of friends and colleagues have said, you know, they’ve shared how they go on these retreats and these really powerful things around that. That’s definitely something that I would love to do. I will say, you know, for me personally, that experience really rejuvenated my personal commitment, which again, I share very much with my boys of active exercising, eating healthy, and those types of things and, and very an important element because, you know, I have a pacemaker. And so, you know, I can remember when my father passed, my oldest said, Daddy, what about your heart. So, you know, as you can imagine, the first thing I did was I got a cardiac ultrasound, so that I could show my boys nothing to worry about healthy well, but again, still have to do that regular maintenance to to ensure that, but I’m just continuing that I think would be really, really important. So

Achim Nowak  28:03

appreciate everything, you’re just said, it when I make like, this is warmer, I’m a lap swimmer. I’m not competitive, but I count my laps, I try to wow, how many laps I swim. And so for me living somewhere, like I’m in a building now where there’s a lap pool downstairs last night. So where I live, the proximity of an easily accessible pool, where I can swim is important. And that song was part of a package deal. And we can all create those things. Once we’re clear on why things matter. Right, either at work or in our personal lives. I want to end with this question. And I feel like we’ve talked about it already so much and so beautifully. But as a closing, if you had a chance to speak to young Jeffrey and share some words of wisdom with him that you know, now that you didn’t know back then this is not to change the trajectory of Jeffrey’s life trajectories perfect as is. But would you whisper in his ears?

Geoffrey M. Roche  29:02

Yeah, that’s definitely definitely a really important question. The thing that definitely comes to mind for me is that I would definitely whisper in little Geoffrey’s ears that despite all the challenges or hardships that one can experience loss that one can experience in their lifetime, at all ages. There is still an important place for you to be to help others and to leverage all that loss all that grief into advancing really important missions purpose to mainly the impact that you choose. That’s definitely what I would share you know, with little Jeffrey and going back in time. And

Achim Nowak  29:45

that’s such a beautiful message for any of us at any stage in our lives. I love that. If our listeners are curious and they want to learn more about you and what you do and or they want to follow the work you do. I want to Going to college you also started a podcast last year so people can listen to, to that. Where would you like to direct them? Yeah,

Geoffrey M. Roche  30:07

I would definitely encourage them to connect on LinkedIn. You know, just type in Jeffrey M Roche, Jeffrey M period. Roche happy to connect with anybody and certainly always welcome conversation on anything that we discussed here but other things as well.

Achim Nowak  30:21

Thank you, Jeffrey, for this beautiful conversation. I it was doubly meaningful to me because of our German heritage, the German words you throw in, so thank you, it was the privilege dunka Sharon gushing. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the mindful of X podcast. If you liked what you have heard, please like us and leave a review on your preferred podcast platforms. And if you would like to engage more deeply in fourth act conversations, check out the mastermind page at Achim It’s what fourth actors like you engage in riveting conversation with other fourth actors? See you there. And bye for now.


Stay Connected to Get The Latest Podcast Alerts

Congratulations! You have successfully subscribed. We look forward to staying connected with you!