Profile: George Hager CEO, Genesis HealthCare Corp.
Like the quarterback of his beloved Super Bowl-champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Hager demonstrates a play-to-win, teamwork-driven style of leadership, according to his admirers.
While many CEOs operate through a cult of personality, Hager is “that guy who is in the game, on the field, and is prepared to step up when necessary to throw the pass to win the game—but is in the huddle as part of the team,” says Larry Lane, vice president of government affairs for Genesis.
Hager, known for his humility, says he considers his roster of some 40,000 employees a key part of the company's success.
“I like the idea of a team that shares a common purpose and a common mission, has been able to stay together through those difficult times and is able to see the outcome of all our hard work,” Hager says.
One of those trying times was a bankruptcy in 2000 stemming from the fallout from the implementation of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. In 2003, the company—then Genesis Health Ventures—spun off its long-term care and rehabilitation divisions into the company, known as Genesis HealthCare today.
A certified public accountant, Hager has strived to bolster the company's operations with an emphasis on employee recruitment and retention.
He has backed labor management systems technology that monitors staffing needs, as well as tuition assistance so direct caregivers can receive education to move up the ranks. There also is a leadership program for DONs and administrators.
Hager has earned renown for his decision in recent years to invest $400 million to modernize facilities, create specialty units and enhance technology.
“He's a very good-hearted person as well as a smart business person,” notes Arnie Whitman, president and CEO of Formation Capital LLC. The company was one of Genesis's buyers in 2007, when it went private.
Hager's sense of commitment to his workplace can be at least partially attributed to his upbringing. His father, a World War II veteran and steel industry worker in Pittsburgh, emphasized education and hard work. His father's financing four children in college at the same time left a strong impression on Hager and his siblings.
Meanwhile, athletics and a competitive family fostered Hager's drive to succeed and his appreciation of teamwork. Hager played basketball at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. His two brothers also played college athletics.
More recently, Hager has ex-changed his high-tops for irons and woods. Golfing is a family affair involving his wife, Dee, and sons, Eric, 19, and Justin, 14.
A Roman Catholic, Hager regularly attends Mass on Sundays. Other non-Genesis interests include sitting on the boards and committees of several other companies, where he shares his expertise and advice.
Perhaps because of all the practical experience he has accumulated over 17 years at Genesis, Hager says he has considered trying teaching.
And why not? After all, it's not unusual for quarterbacks to become top coaches.
Receives B.A. in economics from Dickinson College
Earns M.B.A. from Rutgers Graduate School of Management
Joins KPMG, a provider of audit, tax and advisory services
KPMG partner in charge of its healthcare practice group for the Philadelphia region
Joins Genesis (formerly known as Genesis Health Ventures) as VP and CFO
Named CEO of Genesis HealthCare