As chief operating officer of Dartmouth Health, Patrick Jordan III, EMBA ’96, oversees the operations of a $3.1 billion system of hospitals, clinics, and healthcare services across New Hampshire and Vermont. In a healthcare career that has spanned 30 years, Jordan has held leadership roles at some of the largest hospitals and healthcare systems in New England and has overseen literally thousands of employees.
Jordan attributes much of his leadership success to lessons he learned while serving in the United States Army.
“I believe the armed forces are the greatest leadership program in the world,” Jordan told veterans in a keynote speech at Suffolk’s annual Veterans Day luncheon, held on November 9.
Jordan is an EMBA graduate of the Sawyer Business School and a highly engaged alumnus who serves on the Suffolk University Board of Trustees, as well as on the boards of several hospitals and healthcare service providers.
But the role that molded him and made him the leader he is today is army airborne ranger. Jordan served for seven years in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and Special Operations Command, taking part in the invasion of Panama (where he was promoted to captain) and in the Persian Gulf War (where he was awarded the Bronze Star). Trained as a paratrooper, he completed close to 100 jumps during his service, an experience he describes as “pure fear, followed by pure exhilaration.”
It was during his time in the army that Jordan says he learned how to be led and how to command. “They train you how to lead large numbers of people, with great responsibility, on important and complex missions,” he said in a recent interview. Those experiences taught him how to “take care of your people, be results-oriented, drive the mission, and set an example for others.”
Jordan drew a straight line between leading others in the military to his leadership role at Dartmouth Health, which includes New Hampshire’s only academic medical center, four other member hospitals in New Hampshire and Vermont, a visiting nurse and hospice organization serving the two states, and a large community group practice in southern New Hampshire.
“I was trained in the US Army to create an atmosphere of teamwork and engagement,” said Jordan, who met his wife, Katherine, also an army captain, while serving his country. “I run my company the same way I was trained.
“I hire great people who want to accomplish great things, are willing to follow the mission, don’t let things get in the way, and are accountable. I don’t care what industry you’re in, if you take care of the people that work for you, your organization will be successful.”
‘Our nation owes you an incredible debt’
In Jordan’s eyes, his distinguished record of service doesn’t make him singular—it makes him part of something much larger. And it made him a particularly moving keynote speaker at the Veterans Day luncheon.
“Our veterans are precious,” Jordan told the audience of students, employees, and alumni who had served in various branches of the military. “I think about young men and women who, for 200, 300 years, have left their homes, left their families—some by walking, some by horseback, some in carts, some in trains, and some in planes, like most of us. They arrived at their first duty station, met their first drill sergeant, deployed to their first service area, deployed around the world, sometimes in combat. And sometimes they never came back.
“Our nation,” he concluded, “owes you an incredible debt.”
That gratitude was echoed by the event’s other speakers, including Trustee Board Chair Robert C. Lamb, Jr., US Army; Alex Paterson, Suffolk’s coordinator of veteran services; David Goss, president, Undergraduate Student Veterans Organization (USVO), US Marine Corps; and Alex Grenier, vice president, USVO, US Coast Guard.
Jordan’s own introduction to the military came as an undergrad studying business at Fitchburg State College, where he joined both ROTC and the National Guard—which he saw as an opportunity to experience new adventures, and also help pay for his tuition.
He considers it one of the best decisions he ever made.
“I fell in love with the mission of defending our nation right away,” said Jordan, who grew up in Stoneham in a blue-collar family. He took up boxing at an early age and was a finalist in the state’s 1983 Novice Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship. He also played football at the Cambridge Matignon High School, his alma mater.
Jordan remains close with some of his military colleagues. This past June, they held a reunion in South Carolina, where they caught up on each other’s lives and shared stories from their time together in the service.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” said Jordan. “The camaraderie developed through training and real-world combat is a true brotherhood.”
Following his retirement from the army in 1992, Jordan enrolled in Suffolk to pursue an executive MBA degree, attending classes every Saturday for close to two years while working at Mass General as a manager of operations. It was, he said, “one of the most important things I did, along with the army.”
After earning his degree, Jordan rose up the ladder at Mass General, and later became COO at Newton Wellesley Hospital and then Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.
Today, there are more than 80 student-veterans currently enrolled at Suffolk. Over the years, Jordan has provided many Suffolk students and alumni with career advice and guidance. He delivers his message in true military style—clear and direct.
“Make sure you understand what goals your company has and what they expect you to accomplish,” he said. “And then surpass them.”