Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Ben Breier, 39
Chief Operating Officer, Kindred Healthcare
As a catcher on the University of Pennsylvania's baseball team in the early 1990s, Ben Breier had a unique opportunity that his teammates didn't have: the chance to see every aspect of each ballgame play out in front of him.
Breier—who served as co-captain of that team in his last two years of college—transferred the skill of noticing how individual actions can help advance a team goal in his career as a healthcare executive, most recently at post-acute company Kindred Healthcare in Louisville, Ky.
“When you're playing baseball, it doesn't matter what background anyone comes from,” says Breier, 39, who has served as executive vice president and acting president of Kindred's hospital division since March 2008. “You work as a team for one goal: winning a game, winning a season. One thing I take pride in is my ability to relate to people,” he adds. “A lot of that stems from athletics and baseball in particular.”
In March, Breier was named Kindred's chief operating officer pending the appointment of a president of the company's hospital division. “He is a young man of incredible integrity and brings a tremendous amount of energy to others,” says Paul Diaz, Kindred's president and CEO. “He is a leader in the sense that he inspires others to do more and give more, and to do it in a way that they feel good about themselves and the organization.”
Before he was named president of Kindred's hospital division, Breier served as president of the company's Peoplefirst rehabilitation division since August 2005. Before that, he worked at Concentra, where he served as senior vice president of operations from 2003 to 2005 and as vice president of operations from 2001 to 2003. Breier, who holds an MBA and MHA from the University of Miami (Florida), also held management positions at Premier Practice Management and Baptist Health Systems. Steve Monaghan is executive vice president with Kindred's hospital division in Chicago who has known Breier since he (Breier) worked with the company's Peoplefirst division. Monaghan says it was clear then that Breier was destined for more. “What comes across is his intellect, his vision, his ability to grasp and understand issues,” says Monaghan, who added that the attribute he likes most about Breier is his habit of asking questions until he thoroughly understands a topic. He also says Breier has helped boost the company's presence in social-media outlets. “Maybe I'm a dinosaur at 48, but he does have a way of thinking about technology and social media that is kind of fun for people,” Diaz says about Breier. “He's bringing that to bear. That influences everything from how we are looking at marketing and how we view the company.”