BIV is recognizing Sarah Wilkinson, CEO of Dr. Bill, and 39 other exceptional business leaders as part of the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards cohort.
Longer Q&As with each recipient are included in BIV's annual Forty Under 40 Magazine (out in print Dec. 11). Award winners will be celebrated at an awards gala Feb. 7, 2024.
This profile may have been edited for length and clarity.
What career highlight are you most proud of?
Launching the patient panel uploader for the longitudinal family physician payment model in B.C. When Doctors of BC asked if Dr. Bill could build a platform that would allow thousands of physicians to securely submit their patient panels to the Medical Services Plan (MSP), we said yes without hesitation. This launch demonstrated how far we’ve come from being a scrappy startup. Backed by the power of RBCx, we have the people, the knowledge and the technology to confidently say yes to projects like these and can’t wait to say yes to more.
What was your toughest business or professional decision?
I’ve previously led several teams where success metrics weren’t carved out in black and white. One of the toughest parts about moving to Dr.Bill – aside from moving across the country during a global pandemic – was working for a company where success is directly tied to customer and revenue metrics. It’s scary, attaching yourself to ‘real’ metrics and ‘real’ dollars, but I’ve also found that that the fear can be channeled into personal motivation.
How do you lead?
As a leader, I fundamentally believe that my team is better than me in each of their respective areas. To me, leadership means creating the best possible environment for my talented team to do their best work. Leadership is not about pushing them to the 'right' answer or extracting the results I want out of them.
What is the biggest lesson you've learned in business?
I’ve learned that in business, culture eats strategy for breakfast every single time. Strategy is the easy part: It’s not that uncommon to find the ‘right’ or ‘strategic’ answer for the business. Most competitors have found these same answers already. Bringing that strategy to life through execution is the difficult part, and good execution requires great culture, not processes and templates. It’s about getting people to row in the same direction, together. I’ve learned that building a self-sustaining and intrinsically motivated culture, will make the results flow.
Best piece of advice ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is that the interpersonal conflict you face within professional teams is not much different than the conflict you might face in your personal life. It can sometimes be hard to see, but most conflicts come from a mutual challenge. When you realize that you’re fighting the same fight and that you’re on the same team, you can see the challenge for what it is and tackle the conflict together – not against each other.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
You’re not running out of time, and life doesn’t happen on a set schedule. We all win and lose at different times. A single setback doesn’t mean that everything is off track.
What's left to accomplish?
Everything! There is so much left to do to take our industry to the next level. Currently, we're focusing on tackling physician burnout through simplifying their billing processes. We are scaling up the work we do in an under-loved industry to ensure fundamental care and physician autonomy take the lead, all while providing doctors with a renewed sense of peace and control. We’re not there yet, but we’re well on our way.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or acknowledge?
The team. Every single staff member at Dr.Bill makes an active choice to work for this company – and with me – every day. As a leader, I’m here to respect and reflect that trust that they’ve placed in me back on them. This award is a reflection of our entire Dr.Bill team and the trust they put in me every day. I’m also thankful for the trust that the RBCx team has put in me to lead this incredible team.