Up close and personal: Meet Express Scripts Canada president Dr. Dorian Lo

It is said that the speed of the leader determines the efficiency of the pack. With a decisive, confident and compassionate nature, and a dedication to making a difference, Express Scripts Canada president Dr. Dorian Lo is an innovative leader who will take the pharmacy benefits management industry to the next level while putting the needs of clients, plan sponsors and employees first. And doing it with heart.

As early as he can remember, Dr. Lo said he wanted to help people and make a difference. While being a medical doctor was on the list, he says “I wanted to do it differently, even if I wasn’t sure what that would look like”.

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An emergency room doctor in the GTA from 1991-1993, Dr. Lo knew that he wanted to do more. So, with his people-first attitude, he fulfilled his desire to help those less fortunate by volunteering in Nigeria, where he delivered vaccinations and provided basic care, as well as helped rehabilitate a local hospital. While the days were long– a typical day meant vaccinating 50-100 children and examining 50 people – he found them energizing.

“An experience like that really changes your perspective. I saw the incredible strength of these people: their kindness and their ability to enjoy the little things in life. It helped me to see how precious life is,” he says, adding. “They already understood those things and didn’t take them for granted. I was able to feed off that energy, both from the place and the people.”

While some might take time off after returning from such an inspirational experience, Dr. Lo realized he wanted to help even more people and he believed he could achieve this goal in the private sector. Although he knew it would be difficult to leave the practice of medicine, he also knew to achieve his goal he would have to get his MBA.

He did that in 1995, earning his MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Not one to rest on his laurels, he set his sights on the pharmacy benefit management industry so he could serve millions of people.

So why Express Scripts Canada? Dr. Lo says the answer was simple: the people.

“It’s always about the people. Having worked in the industry I knew the reputation of Express Scripts Canada and that’s what attracted me,” he says. “I wanted to work with great people dedicated to serving clients and the healthcare needs of millions of people – and doing it right.”

For more than a year, he’s done just that, while remaining humble and quick to praise the hard work and dedication of others. While he believes efficiency and the ability to prioritize are the signs of a good leader, Dr. Lo believes that empathy, someone who is willing to listen and understand, makes one great.

“A good leader helps create a great team and strives to bring the best out of every individual. Over time, you decide what’s important to you and you make sure you’re focused on those things,” he says, adding. “It’s also important to have a truly supportive partner.”

Married for 21 years and a father of four teenagers, Dr. Lo believes the key to success is being well balanced.

A classically trained pianist, he also runs a marathon (or two) every year. While he jokes: “I like to play a lot of sports, poorly”, his favourite is soccer.

Dr. Lo believes such activities offer a myriad of health benefits and give an individual the time they need to psychologically recharge and re-centre.

Watch: Ask the Pharmacist Special Edition COVID-19 Update with Dr. Dorian Lo, President, Express Scripts Canada

A self-admitted introverted optimist, even he admits life has changed during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I certainly miss the social interaction that comes with seeing my friends, my colleagues and clients at work. That energizes me,” he says, adding the positive things he’s experienced during this unprecedented time of social distancing are many. “On the plus side, I am lucky to be able to spend more time with my family, living under the same roof, and realizing how precious that time is.”

While Dr. Lo takes every opportunity to guide the teenagers under his roof into adulthood, he is also a proponent of self-care during trying times like these.

“It’s really important to have someone to talk to. Expressing how you feel to someone you trust can help you work things out,” he says, adding that being a good listener is just as important. “While you reach out to those folks you trust also try to be a listening ear for others. It’s amazing how much you can learn by listening to others and helping them work through their issues, which might be similar to what you’re going through.”

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In addition to reaching out, it’s also important to recharge your batteries through regular exercise, eating well, lots of rest and a healthy work-life balance and making time for ourselves.

“Life can get very hectic and we can all fill more than an entire day with the things on our to-do list but it’s just as important to put some ‘me’ time on your to-do list,” he says, adding. “Make sure the people around you know it’s your ‘me’ time and they’ll respect it.”

Dedicated to showcasing Express Scripts Canada as an innovative leader that remains ahead of the curve to serve those who matter most – clients, plan sponsors and members – Dr. Lo is excited about the future of the company.

An emergency room doctor who plays classical piano, runs marathons and helps manage a household of four teenagers while heading up one of Canada’s leading pharmacy benefit management companies that employs more than 600 people and serves close to ten million Canadians, it seems there is nothing he can’t do.

The future of Express Scripts Canada, then, is a bright one.