Sg20 Looking Back: Xg2ers Reminisce on Their Time at Sg2

Editor’s note: Answers have been edited for clarity.

Sg2 was formed in 2001, and, today, our cutting-edge expertise, analytics and tailored consulting offerings help health industry leaders anticipate health care trends and provide them with unparalleled insight into local market dynamics. We are just one of the companies that founder Michael Sachs started—and grew—with his vision, passion and leadership. Michael passed in 2019, and we are committed to honoring his legacy by doing what we were trained and inspired by him to do best—make bold predictions, create industry-leading tools and challenge the status quo in our quest to transform health care.

Read more about Michael Sachs.

In honor of Sg2’s 20-year anniversary, we reached out to past employees—people we fondly call “Xg2ers”—to learn more about their time at the company and what meant the most to them while they were here. We thank them greatly, not just for their willingness to participate in the celebration, but also for helping make Sg2 (referred to by some as “The Deuce”) what it is today! If you are an Xg2er yourself, we invite you to join our LinkedIn group.

Learn more about Sg2.

Peggy Baxter, Vice President of Strategy, Press Ganey

Peggy BaxterPeggy is a health care executive with 20+ years of experience building partnerships to create value for high-growth companies and the customers they serve. She works with executives and across business units to accelerate business strategy, identify new opportunities for growth, launch critical market initiatives and drive operational performance.

Peggy spent 10 years at Sg2 in differing roles: as a consultant, a client service director and a regional vice president in the Mid-Atlantic/Southeast.

What are some of your favorite Sg2 memories?

Driving with Lisa Simovic and Bill Woodson at 3:30 am in 90-degree heat with no air conditioning to Aurora, WI, for a presentation; Bob Mayo buying me my first pair of Ferragamos; and, probably most fondly, Henry Soch played the organ at my wedding, and Kathy Landschulz was my personal attendant, with many Sg2ers in attendance (and still very present in my life!).

How did your time at Sg2 influence your current career/life?

I couldn’t have asked for a better foundation than Sg2. Work ethic, importance of organizational skills, how to be a good manager, importance of playing hard and working hard. Most importantly, the importance of trust and giving young leaders opportunities they otherwise may not have had at larger firms…no doubt I benefited greatly from this! Plus, an Sg2 client at Partners HealthCare (now Mass General Brigham) became a friend and introduced me to my husband, Keith. So that was pretty impactful.

Who at Sg2 had the most impact on you?

Michael [Sachs], Bob Mayo and Jay Warden all had tremendous impacts on me personally and professionally. I use their sayings on a weekly basis and also have a lot of “What would Bob say? What would Michael do?” moments. And while all three were so important to me—I would say that the strong group of supportive, hard-working, motivated women I was surrounded by was the most impactful: Kathy Landschulz, Patti Girzadas, Lisa Simovic, Melissa Masopust, Wendy Will, Meg Robb. Even though I was younger and less experienced, they provided me with opportunities I would have never had without their trust and support. We celebrated each other’s wins and partnership was abundant. We are all still in contact, and I do wonder whether I will ever have the opportunity to be surrounded by such an amazing, talented group of women again.

Brad Helfand, COO/Co-owner at Vous Vitamin LLC

Brad HelfandBrad spent nearly five years at Sg2 coming up through the ranks of the consulting team. Since 2019, he has been running Vous Vitamin LLC, a growth company in the personalized nutrition space.

What are some of your favorite Sg2 memories?

The camaraderie and genuine appreciation for colleagues was unparalleled. I have never experienced that type of cultural cohesion in my career either before or since Sg2.

I was the unofficial “rabbi” of Sg2 for several years. Narcissa [Bernardo, Office Services Specialist] and Jaime [Figueroa, Office Services Specialist] would consult me on all of the Jewish holidays. They always had the box of matzah queued up and ready to go for Passover.

My favorite was a trip with Michael Sachs back to his alma mater, The University of Missouri. He was universally adored and revered by the university alumni, donors and leadership. It was a glimpse into a life well lived with hard-earned success.

How did your time at Sg2 influence your current career/life?

There was a strong ethos of innovation at Sg2, and I carry that mindset forward in my current role as an entrepreneur with a digital health company. One of the very first people to call and congratulate me on taking the leap with Vous Vitamin was Michael Sachs.

Who at Sg2 had the most impact on you?

Aaron Noparstak—he was a combination little brother and ideological thought partner, who had an uncanny ability to reach inside my head and translate ideas to paper. A big portion of my career success is due to the mentorship and support of beloved colleagues like Steve Lefar, Catherine Maji and Michael Sachs, among others.

Wade Johannessen, Executive Director of Strategy, Commercial and Specialty Markets, at Aetna, a CVS Health Company

Wade JohannessenWade is a 15-year veteran of the health care strategy industry and has spent the last nine years at Aetna working in advisory and strategy for their Accountable Care Solutions, their California market and most recently commercial and specialty markets. Prior to Aetna, Wade spent six years at Sg2 focusing on orthopedics and payment reform and contributing to intelligence, analytics and consulting engagements.

What are some of your favorite Sg2 memories?

I miss the collaboration and teamwork—every “Sg2er” was always willing to share their learnings, ideas and best practices and to brainstorm together. The most memorable event has to be the Sg2 Day where we had a giant inflatable obstacle course, I must have done that course at least 50 times that day. I was sore for a whole week after that. Runner-up would be the holiday party in Lincoln Park where we had balloon animals. I think somewhere I still have a picture of me with reindeer antlers.

How did your time at Sg2 influence your current career/life?

I carry the lessons I learned at Sg2 with me every day, whether it’s the ability to think in frameworks, to present information clearly and succinctly, to identify trends and patterns from data or simply to ask questions. Even small things like writing efficient emails and building slides that have descriptive lead lines. Creative Services [Sg2’s editorial and design team] taught me the value of white space on the page. And above all, I learned to always “ask the question behind the question.”

Who at Sg2 had the most impact on you?

Steve Miff: Steve hired me in to Sg2—he was out of town during interviews but made a special trip to downtown Chicago to meet me on a Saturday morning for coffee, and I am grateful to him for bringing me onto the team and launching my career.

Lisa Slama, VP, Market Growth Strategy at VillageMD

Lisa SlamaLisa spent 15 years at Sg2 in a variety of Intelligence team roles, focusing on areas including cancer, women’s health and enterprise strategy, and also providng leadership oversight for Sg2’s forecasting engine, the Impact of Change®. Today she leads growth strategy work for VillageMD, a provider of health care for organizations moving toward a primary care-led, high-value clinical model.

What are some of your favorite Sg2 memories?

I jumped around a bit on the Intelligence team but do have fond memories of my short stay as the orthopedics lead. Nothing like telling a bunch of surgeons that I know the best way to do an anterior hip surgery. Another that comes to mind is Jim Jacobsohn and I trying to trip each other up during Executive Summit talks by making the other person include a random word or phrase into their talk with no notice. Trust me, it’s not easy to wrap “Applebees” into an analytics talk. But the most memorable event was the Sg2 talent show that covered everything from belly dancing to Deck in Box by the consulting analysts.

How did your time at Sg2 influence your current career/life?

I came to Sg2 after doing a postdoc. I was a scientist and never stepped foot in a hospital. Sg2 was my first job and taught me everything I know about health care, strategy, conflict management, portion control, airline loyalty programs. It gave me the skillset, the connections, and confidence to know that I could try something new, even after 15 years at The Deuce.

Who at Sg2 had the most impact on you?

Maddie McDowell has been my friend, mentor, coach and medical advocate. She taught me the importance of triple checking numbers and what really matters is the patient.

Wendy Will, Vice President Corporate Development at DaVita Kidney Care

Wendy WillWendy spent eight years at Sg2 as a regional vice president, developing, managing and growing Sg2’s client base in the West and leading health care relationships for strategy, operations and clinical leadership. Today she leads growth, maintenance and diversification of DaVita’s core business and innovations in kidney disease management.

What are some of your favorite Sg2 memories?

It was the best team I have had the pleasure to work with—supportive, creative, driven and tackling same life events together from our unique spots around the country. A handful of us were the first dozen employees and it was amazing to be in on the ground floor in shaping the future of the company.

Every Sg2 event in Chicago outdid the next, with the energy of the annual events bringing together such strategic minds from our clients and team.

How did your time at Sg2 influence your current career/life?

It was a period where I was trying to figure out how to juggle “mom” and work duties and having a remote job from home provided such a critical transition for me from the consulting lifestyle. I learned from the training and colleagues a strong grounding in listening to the customer voice and adapting that has guided my future career choices. Michael Sachs and Mike Burke were critical in providing a flexible workforce long before the current trend, and bringing together such a smart, creative and driven team to get it done.

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