MERGING CONSTRUCTION AND HEALTH CARE
TOM KOULOURIS, MBA ’08, SENIOR PROGRAM MANAGER, AECOM, MIAMI
BY JENNIFER LECLAIRE

merging.jpg Tom Koulouris has walked through the valleys and climbed to the mountaintops. Today, the senior program manager for AECOM is overseeing construction on a $1.5 billion, fiveyear capital plan at Jackson Health System, Miami-Dade County’s public health system.

Koulouris, who has worked in the construction industry since graduating from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in building construction, says he needs what he learned in the School’s Executive MBA in Health Sector Management and Policy program to be able to manage a project like the Jackson one. “Just imagine a road 500 miles long with gaps of understanding in the road. I had a vast knowledge of health care but there were gaps in my knowledge stream,” Koulouris explains. “UM’s program helped me close those gaps, leading me to a point where I am doing my best work.”

Working in the construction industry had been Koulouris’ dream since an eighth-grade drafting class, when an instructor inspired in him a passion for the industry. That passion carried him, at age 13, through the pain of his sister’s death, his brother leaving home, and emotional abandonment from his parents. His life took another hard turn in the 1990s, when his adopted son was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. His wife quit work to take care of their son. When a recession hit the construction industry, they both found themselves practically jobless. Then something changed. “I will never forget this as long as I live,” Koulouris recalls. “Late on a Sunday night, the phone rings. It’s a CEO of the hospital where my wife used to work. They’ve got problems in their design and construction program and he asked me to come talk to them.”

That system, AMI (now Tenet Healthcare), hired Koulouris as an owners representative. That work led to his big career break with ColumbiaHCA, where he spent a large portion of his career perfecting his craft, which he terms “more art than science.” Then Koulouris attended the School’s MBA program.

And even though Jackson is another career pinnacle, Koulouris says the most profound moment of his life was serving six months operating a hospital in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. “I was one of many that set up the University of Miami’s Project MediShare’s trauma field hospital,” Koulouris says. “I saw more death and horror than you can even imagine. But I was not overcome with it, because I know pain when I see it; I couldn’t take my focus off the mission, which was to save lives. I came back a better man.”

Spring 2017
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