Suzanne Garber

Co-Founder of Gauze

Co-founder of Gauze, the world’s most comprehensive database of international hospitals that connects and informs the 1.4 billion international travelers annually, Suzanne Garber also directed and produced “GAUZE: Unraveling Global Healthcare” an award-winning, PBS documentary that highlights her journey to 24 countries, 174 hospitals and interviews with 65 healthcare experts. Her work as COO, International SOS and Managing Director, FedEx South America has taken her to 100+ countries and all 7 continents.

As an international Board of Director member, Garber has an excellent track record for profitable growth in the healthcare, travel, and logistics spheres including start up, emerging markets, rapid growth, M&A, and S & P 500 environments. P&L responsibility for Garber has ranged from the hundreds of millions to over one billion dollars and she has earned the reputation as a hands-on leader who actively seeks to understand and engage with the culture, language, and nuances of the shareholders, clients, and employees she serves. Her ability to envision risk and long-range strategy globally, take into consideration local market needs, and foster strong executive relationships across industries and geographies are hallmarks of her career. Garber is focused on a portfolio of corporate and philanthropic boards that provide complex services to millions of beneficiaries and users around the world. She specializes in risk mitigation, globalization, and leadership development.

A dual US/EU citizen, Garber is an honors graduate from Rutgers University with a degree in foreign languages and a Master’s degree recipient with honors from the University of Pennsylvania. Reared in Spain, Mexico, Algeria, Egypt, the Dominican Republic and various US states, she is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Garber has been featured in US News & World Report, The New York Times, Businessweek and hundreds of other media outlets / conferences that focus on globalization, risk mitigation, and international healthcare.

Where did the idea for Gauze come from?

Gauze came about because I got sick abroad. I didn’t speak the language and was not sure about the quality of healthcare there. I returned to the US where I was misdiagnosed multiple times. It got me thinking about how often travelers get sick abroad and I began researching that, out of the 1.4 billion international travelers annually, between 10-40% become ill abroad. That’s nearly half a billion people!

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

? Is there ever a typical day for an entrepreneur? Every day is different but there are certain elements that overlap. As Gauze catalogues information on global hospitals, there will always be some aspect of researching data whether on the phone, WhatsApp, Baidu, or email. Communications—in multiple languages—is key for us obtaining the information we need to keep the 1.4 billion international travelers healthy safe and secure.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We are very fortunate to have an extremely diverse workforce from an age, thought, national origin, and language perspective. We actively seek out ideas from our team whether it be for marketing, business development, technical or service. We will carefully evaluate ideas and run them through various modeling formats to determine if there is a criticality for the idea and at what cost. We’ll then balance the two for feasibility and then construct a plan for creation and implementation. We are also part of a thriving entrepreneurial community that includes veterans as well as academicians and have a solid network of advisors to run ideas by.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Tele-health services. It makes healthcare accessible and more affordable than traditional in-person visits. In many ways, it also helps reduce overhead which leads to lower costs passed on to the patient.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Sleep. It’s imperative.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Network. I didn’t fully appreciate the importance of making lasting connections with people at an early age outside of my corporate environment. While I’m pleased to have had amazing traditional, corporate experiences in my early career, I focused almost exclusively on my network internally, rarely thinking I would need or want to network with people outside my work environment. As an entrepreneur, networking is critical—not just for new business but also for investors, advisors, and mentors.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

International students are worth the hiring risk; many companies will not give them a chance with an internship or their first job due to visa, language, or cultural differences. I have found every student from another country we’ve taken on to be beyond capable, curious, and competent. They also benefit from working for an American company and receiving a solid educational experience with us.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Pray. It takes a lot of faith to be an entrepreneur and even if someone says they don’t practice a faith or believe in anything, it’s contradictory to the entire entrepreneurial experience. You MUST believe in something in order to be successful—even if that something is your product, your market, or yourself.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Becoming a thought leader in our field is key. Prior to starting our business, we strategized through our growth and marketing plans. Through that, we produced and directed the award winning, PBS documentary, “GAUZE: Unraveling Global Healthcare” which highlights our travels to 24 countries where we visited 174 hospitals and interviewed 65 international healthcare experts to compare and contrast the US healthcare system. Because of the film, we’ve been in more media mentions around the globe and have been sought out as presenters of major conferences around the world. We could not have achieved this without having a legitimate piece of serious thought leadership.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Selecting the right vendor to help us build our product was daunting. I am not a technically proficient person and I had to articular my vision to someone else to build. Not knowing the specifics of programming, I was ‘technologically extorted’ early on in the development of our company. This is where the power of a network can make recommendations to vet vendors in a much more personal and painstaking way. Not everyone in business is honest.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

An international drug registry for pharmacists to cross reference dispensed drugs (especially narcotics) with patients by ID, personal information, payment type, and prescribing doctor. A photo id should be taken and stored of the narcotics recipients. This might curb access to the burgeoning issue of opioid abuse.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently joined the American College of Healthcare Executives. They offer a number of fabulous training programs and certifications for those in the healthcare community. They also provide great networking opportunities.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I am a big fan of Calendly. Our calendars are pretty crazy and having Calendly integrate with Zoom is very helpful for interviewing purposes.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I recommend the Bible. There are loads of lessons in every chapter on how to lead, manage, inspire, and grow—mostly based on stories on what not to do! The objectives contained therein are dramatic and still very relevant to today.

What is your favorite quote?

A complaint without offering a solution is meaningless.

Key Learnings:

• Having faith in something is critical to an entrepreneur; you must have faith, at least, in yourself and your abilities.
• If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of your business. Get plenty of sleep so you’re operating at maximal levels.
• There is little more valuable to your business than your network. Begin curating it early and tending to it often.
• Utilize the power of your network to help you select vendors in areas where you lack proficiency. This will prevent getting scammed or extorted as not everyone in business is honest.