Grant Connelly of NeuPath Health: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a C-Suite Executive

Jilea Hemmings
Authority Magazine
Published in
16 min readAug 9, 2021


When you become a CEO, you need to find your outlet. I’ve been lucky to have a good CFO who has been an amazing sounding board, and I’m also a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, which gives me access to a network of other CEOs who are facing similar challenges and are there to listen and share. For me, it’s these relationships and networks that have been valuable in navigating a C-Suite level role.

As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A C-Suite Executive”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Grant Connelly.

Grant is the CEO of NeuPath Health Inc. (TSXV: NPTH), a vertically integrated health care provider utilizing research, data-driven insights, technology, and interdisciplinary care to help restore function for patients impacted by chronic pain, spinal injuries, sport-related injuries, and concussions. Grant has spent the last 10 years working in the health care sector and his experience spans digital health, primary care, multi-specialty clinics, and electronic medical records. Previously, Grant served as CFO for a publicly-traded media company and earned an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, York University and a Bachelor of Accounting from Brock University.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I started my career in merchant banking where I was exposed to many different companies and industries. During that time, I cultivated many transferable skills — particularly in finance, capital markets, and M&A — as well as the ability to learn and adapt quickly. Since then, I’ve brought these learnings into all of my subsequent professional roles across various industries, including manufacturing, media, and more recently, healthcare.

What prompted me to take the leap into healthcare was the tremendous amount of opportunity the industry offered. And put simply, I was also excited to see what a career path could look like for me in this sector. Early on, I noticed that nobody was really developing and training professional management in healthcare, particularly in Canada. Rather, the industry was driven by fragmentation in the clinic space. I saw that sole practitioners and single-location clinics were not reaching the scale whereby they needed or could afford professional management, and this was something that I believed I could help address head-on.

I found that I was, and still am, able to leverage my transferable skills in healthcare and attract talent from other sectors that I’ve previously interacted with, like media and telecommunications, and hospitality too. Many of the issues that the healthcare industry faces have already been tackled and resolved by other industries. So, rather than reinvent the wheel, the team and I at NeuPath are implementing proven solutions from these other industries and business areas, as well as tapping into our personal experiences to improve the healthcare sector overall.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I was 27 years old, working in a leadership development role for a decent sized company that was generating USD$500 million in annual revenue, and had about 3,200 employees. I’d only been with the company for a few months when the Board of Directors made the difficult decision to try to find a buyer for the company. What this meant was that, very early on in my career with the company, I ended up working very closely with senior-level members of the leadership team on the sale process.

Together, we prepared a thorough presentation and went through three full days of meetings with prospective buyers. The CFO was unable to attend the first presentation because he was dealing with other business matters, and so the CEO of the company and I ended up divvying up the presentation, with me presenting the second half of it — in other words, the part that the CFO was originally supposed to own. At this point, I’d only been at the company for about three months, so you can imagine the amount of pressure I was feeling to make sure I truly delivered. Luckily for me, the presentation went extremely well and as a result, I continued to deliver the second half of that presentation for all meetings that took place over those next three days.

During the same process, we received two very different bids from companies that were interested in acquiring our business — and my company’s Board of Directors invited me to a meeting to ask for my opinion on each of the bids. Let me reiterate — I was just 27 years old at this point, and only six months into my time with the company.

The point I’m trying to drive home with these stories of my early experiences is that exposing your employees to important events or meetings that are potentially above their pay grade is a key part of their development. These experiences have always been a good reminder for me when I think of myself as a leader — that stretching your employees is also critical for their professional development.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“If a decision is reversible, the biggest risk is moving too slow. If a decision is irreversible, the biggest risk is moving too fast.”

I’ve found this quote to be applicable in both my professional and personal life. We make so many decisions on a daily basis, and this quote reminds me to spend my time on the high leverage decisions.

Sometimes, the scariest part about being a CEO is that your personal performance, let alone your company’s performance, can often be distilled down to a few key decisions. “Did you decide to move forward with an acquisition or not?” “Did you decide to take the leap into a new market or not?” Bucketing decisions based on whether they’re reversible or irreversible provides a high-level framework for determining which decisions should demand more of your time, and the potential impact they can have.

It’s also a good way to figure out which decisions can or should be delegated to others. For instance, delegating reversible decisions can be a fantastic teaching opportunity. Failure is a great classroom — allowing your employees to make reversible decisions will, inevitably, lead to some failed decisions, but also to potentially eye-opening learning opportunities.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on your leadership style? Can you share a story or an example of that?

There are so many fantastic books to choose from, but I’d have to say ‘Leaders Eat Last’ by Simon Sinek is a top pick for me. The book talks about ‘happiness chemicals’ — endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin — and their role in organizations and building high-performance teams. It almost feels like a cheat code. In his book, Simon digs into his theory on the breakdown of the employee-employer relationship and loyalty. He also shares the story of a Silicon Valley CEO who guaranteed jobs for life to all of his employees and eventually saw revenue and profits soar after announcing the initiative.

In March 2020, like many other companies, we had no idea how the COVID-19 pandemic was going to impact NeuPath, and I remember the topic of layoffs coming up. This book and the ‘jobs for life’ story kept playing in my head and, as a result, we made a decision to keep as many of our staff working regular hours as we possibly could. I look at how some businesses and industries struggled and continue to struggle when it comes to hiring and, in hindsight, I believe our decision to try to maintain the status quo for our employees helped us avoid these challenges.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Definitely our culture. I’m a big believer in the ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ mantra. The past 18 months have been a good example of this. Towards the end of 2019, heading into the beginning of 2020, it’s clear that no one anticipated a global pandemic to have to be in their strategic plan. At NeuPath, we figured out very quickly that we needed to make some significant adjustments to the way we operate in order to ensure the safety of our patients, staff, and physicians. In theory, these adjustments should have resulted in a dramatic reduction in patient appointments and some patients would not be able to secure an appointment to receive critical care. What we saw was our clinic staff and physicians rising to the occasion, and volunteering to work extended hours (including on weekends) just so we could continue to provide care to as many patients as possible.

You can see the impact of our team’s efforts in our financial results. Our revenue in 2020 was more durable than US hospital revenues over the same time period. However, I will clarify that revenue and financial results were not the driving force. Instead, I attribute it to the fact that our staff and physicians have bought into NeuPath’s higher purpose — to me, that’s a strong indicator of a great company culture.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

  1. Stick your hand up at every opportunity. This will provide you with valuable experience and also demonstrate to your leaders that you’re motivated and ambitious. If you get asked to participate in a project, challenge yourself to always say ‘yes’.
  2. Commit to lifelong learning. This doesn’t necessarily mean formal education. Read books, attend webinars or seminars, and work with intention to fill gaps in your current skill set.
  3. Learn how to read financial statements and get comfortable with corporate finance, if you don’t already have a good understanding in these areas. As your career progresses, you need to be able to understand financial statements, budgets, financial KPIs, and the different levers you can pull to drive financial performance in your business. In this day and age, there are actually plenty of good ‘finance for the non-financial manager’ courses people can tap into — and in some cases, at no extra cost.
  4. Don’t get hung up on your career plan — focus on finding good opportunities to gain experience and build your inventory of transferable skills. A lot of people focus on sticking it out at one job or industry for ‘X” number of years, followed by another job or industry for ‘X’ more years. From personal experience, I can confidently say that my career path was far less rigid and much more opportunistic; I didn’t have a plan. Despite my fluid career, I can point to skills that I picked up from each role that I continue to use in my position at NeuPath today.
  5. Learn from previous or current leaders’ mistakes. Failure is a far better teacher than success. Warren Buffett put it best: “It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.” As great as some of your leaders have been, they too have made mistakes or done things that you might not have liked — we’re all human after all. Catalog those mistakes, learn from them, and at the end of the day, make sure you don’t repeat them.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

I’m not sure if this really counts as advice, but when I was in school, there was pressure to start your post-business school career in investment banking, both by peers and business schools. Admittedly, I bought into this pressure. The thing is, I graduated right after the dot-com bubble burst and one month before 9/11. I was stubborn though, and persisted in trying to find a role in investment banking. I ended up in the merchant banking position I mentioned earlier, but looking back, I spent more time than needed searching for and stressing over finding a job, all because I ‘needed’ to be in investment banking. In hindsight, my takeaway is to be open to opportunities. Chart your own path as they say, don’t just follow the crowd.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Resilience. There’s a pretty famous graphic that depicts people’s perceptions of success (a straight line) vs reality (a squiggly line that goes up, down, sideways, and can double back on itself). Success isn’t a straight line and successful businesses and leaders often encounter pretty big challenges — some that could be career-ending or could threaten the viability of the business. I’ve had the misfortune (at the time) and fortune (in hindsight) of facing some of these big challenges during my career, from the Great Recession to a global pandemic, to the threat of regulatory changes. No matter how bleak the situation seemed at the time, I made it through. I carry that knowledge with me and know that no matter how close I step to the abyss, I will (and you will) always make it through. This is something that I’ve tried to instill in my team.
  2. Trustworthy. I’ve seen this play out in a number of different scenarios throughout my career. Earlier on in my career, I was hired to make acquisitions in a corporate development role. The CEO who hired me told me that I was hired because I was disarming, which would be helpful in building trust with potential acquisition targets. Making acquisitions is more art than science. People who build businesses are fiercely protective of their business and need to trust that the buyer is going to treat the business and its employees well, post-acquisition. Another example is when I started in my current role at NeuPath. The company wasn’t performing at its full potential and I knew I had to make several key changes. Despite still being relatively new to the business, I’d presented myself in a way whereby I gained the trust of my entire team, who, at the end of the day, also bought into the changes I wanted to and did eventually make at the company.
  3. Empathy. The world of business is changing, and this has only been accelerated by the pandemic. Organizations and good leaders are starting to understand that Jack Welch’s ‘fire the bottom 10% of employees’ approach to business creates a cortisol-rich work environment, which is really harmful to employee retention and engagement. Modern business leaders need to be able to move away from zero-sum decision-making and prioritizing choices that simply look good on a spreadsheet. Leaders need to be able to put themselves in their employees shoes and truly understand how their decisions are going to impact their people. Thankfully, we’re seeing that making decisions that benefit employees and making decisions that are good for business are not mutually exclusive. A study by Deloitte found that for each $1 spent on employee mental health initiatives, employers generate $1.62 in return on investment. This ROI jumps to $2.18 for programs that were in place for three or more years. At NeuPath, we’ve improved our employees’ health insurance and increased spending. As a result, we saw reductions in claims related to anxiety, stress, and depression, and also saw improvements in profitability.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a C-Suite executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what a C-Level executive does that is different from the responsibilities of other leaders?

Peter Drucker said, “The CEO is the link between the Inside that is ‘the organization,’ and the Outside of society, economy, technology, markets, and customers. Inside there are only costs. Results are only on the outside.

Other leaders can work on the ‘Outside’, but they do it within a silo — sales, marketing, technology, finance, customer service, etc. — and they look at one or a limited set of contributing factors from a very narrow perspective. CEOs are responsible for keeping up-to-date on society, the economy, technology, markets, customers, and other outside influences, while making sure the whole organization is positioned, structured, and has the right values needed to meet the demands of the Outside or capitalize on emerging trends. This integration of the ‘Outside’ and ‘Inside’, to me, embodies what a C-Suite executive does.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive? Can you explain what you mean?

The ‘Rockstar CEO’ myth definitely needs to be dispelled. People like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk get a lot of praise, but they had, and have, strong teams. As a CEO, there’s only so much you can do as one person. You can accomplish so much more by leveraging your organization’s human capital. Surround yourself with a bright and capable team. Empower your team to make decisions that align with your organization’s values and purpose. Your team should become an extension of you and, if you do a good job, they’ll likely make even better decisions than you might have.

What are the most common leadership mistakes you have seen C-Suite leaders make when they start leading a new team? What can be done to avoid those errors?

I’ve always felt that leading a new team brings a whole set of conflicting emotions or feelings — excitement and stress to name a couple. I also think it’s tough to find a C-Suite leader who isn’t ambitious. We start in a new role and want to prove ourselves or make our mark, which can sometimes lead to C-Suite leaders implementing changes before learning enough about the business and before building trust with the new team. It’s a delicate balance between moving too fast and moving too slow — new leaders have a relatively small window for driving change. I believe the best way to avoid moving too fast is by getting to know your new team members on a personal level. Build relationships and build trust.

In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

I’d say the impact of culture and engagement on business performance. A while back, Gallup came out with a poll that found that 63% of employees worldwide are not engaged — the numbers for the US and Canada were 54% not engaged, and 18% actively disengaged. That same poll also found that actively disengaged employees cost their organizations roughly $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary (in other words, 34% of their salary). Multiply the salaries of all of those actively disengaged employees across the US and Canada, and that’s a substantial loss for businesses from both a cost and performance perspective.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading From the C-Suite”? Please share a story or an example for each.

I have four solid examples i can share:

  1. It can be a pretty solitary grind. You have no shortage of people who want to speak with you, but you don’t necessarily have anyone with whom you can openly share or seek advice from. Most people are used to having a colleague that they can confide in or who can offer advice, but you don’t have that when you’re a CEO. You have a Board of Directors — your bosses — and people who report to you.
  2. When you become a CEO, you need to find your outlet. I’ve been lucky to have a good CFO who has been an amazing sounding board, and I’m also a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, which gives me access to a network of other CEOs who are facing similar challenges and are there to listen and share. For me, it’s these relationships and networks that have been valuable in navigating a C-Suite level role.
  3. Being visible and speaking with your employees is a big part of your job. Over time, I had to learn that ‘doing something’ or ‘being productive’ was not limited to attending board meetings, reviewing documents, or being glued to my computer and firing off emails. In fact, some of the softer skills or activities, like visiting employees and speaking to them is still a form of ‘doing something’. One of my employees asked me to visit one of our clinics because she said it’d be good for the employees to see me in-person. I’ll never forget the analogy she used — she said I was like the Queen; all I needed to do was to show up, smile, and wave every once in a while.
  4. You need to be fiercely protective of your time. As a C-Suite executive, there will always be many demands for your time and plenty of people that want to meet with you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to accommodate all of those requests, but you also need to make sure you give yourself the time to recharge and think. It took time for me to get into this mindset, but today, I usually try not to overschedule myself and always make sure I’m able to dedicate some time everyday to think and reflect.

In your opinion, what are a few ways that executives can help to create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?

I’m big on data and metrics; I subscribe to the ‘if you’re not measuring it, you’re not managing it’ adage. Culture can be a nebulous concept as it’s difficult to measure. Oftentimes, we use engagement as a proxy for culture and engagement surveys are our yardstick — engagement being a measure of how employees feel about their company’s culture and their role within said company. In general, a strong company culture leads to higher employee engagement and retention. Although we’re still early in our employee engagement journey, NeuPath conducted its first-ever engagement survey last year. To our surprise, we ranked in the top quartile for engagement drivers: Purpose & Innovation, Organizational Practices, Mastery, and Autonomy — again, as someone who’s big on data and metrics, this spoke volumes about the type of work environment we’ve been able to cultivate for our team.

My suggestion for creating a fantastic work culture is two-fold. First, conduct employee engagement surveys to establish a baseline, and then measure changes in engagement over time. Second, actually implement changes based on the feedback you receive in the engagement surveys. It’s more damaging to conduct an engagement survey and not take any action than it is to not conduct an engagement survey at all. In the same vein, don’t try to implement too many changes all at once, even if many of the ideas or feedback submitted carry some weight. At the end of the day, it’s better to focus on one to three high-leverage initiatives and execute on them well than spreading yourself too thin.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I truly believe that the work we’re doing at NeuPath has the potential to positively impact a lot of people around the world. Musculoskeletal (MSK) health impairments are the leading cause of disability worldwide, and MSK conditions are the biggest cost in high income countries’ health systems. The cost and burden associated with MSK conditions is only expected to increase as the global population ages, and as the population continues to grow in low- and middle-income countries.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Personally, I have a Twitter account but I’m not very active on the social platform. Your best bet is to find me on LinkedIn at

You can also keep up with all things related to NeuPath on Twitter at @NeuPathHealth and on LinkedIn at

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!



Jilea Hemmings
Authority Magazine

Founder Nourish + Bloom Market | Stretchy Hair Care I Author I Speaker I Eshe Consulting I Advocate For Diversity In Beauty