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Sal Braico, SymphonyCare

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Sal Braico, chief operating officer, SymphonyCare.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

After spending 20 years in different areas of health care, I continue to find it incredibly rewarding. Health care plays such a critical role in all of our lives at some point. At the same time, regulations and the needs of health care organizations are always changing, so it’s also very challenging. In my role as COO for SymphonyCare, a health care IT firm, we’re always adapting to help our health care clients pull in different types of data from multiple sources so they can use the data to best benefit patients.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

When I worked as COO of Mallatt’s Pharmacy, including its long-term care business, I had the privilege of working with company president Mike Flint. Mike started out as a pharmacist, bought Mallatt’s, and grew the business over the years while giving his employees ownership of the business. He always did what was best for patients and employees whenever he could. He didn’t look at the finances of the decision; he always did what was best, which he felt would pay off in multiple ways afterward. He always said, “It’s the right thing to do.” He helped so many employees quietly with advice and financial help, and he didn’t do it for recognition — he just wanted to help the people who worked for him.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

An entrepreneur at heart, I still think the best is yet to come in my career. I think you have to be an optimist to build anything. My current position has been the most challenging. Ravi Kalla brought me on to be CEO of HighFive Health and then we acquired some software applications from Influence Health and bundled them together to make SymphonyCare. I see so much potential in our company and I’m really excited about 2020.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Buy Apple stock. But first, get yourself off of a cargo ship and go into IT. Along the way, you’ll experience some serious highs and lows in business, and you can’t get too wrapped up in either one. Try to stay the course. Even when something bad happens, keep working and something positive will happen.

What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

Over the 20 years I’ve lived in Madison, I continue to be impressed with the people of Dane County. It’s so unlike other parts of the country where most people are just looking to make a quick buck. In Dane County, when people start companies, they want to make a difference and help people. I don’t see the unrestrained, selfish ambition here that you see in other places.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

As a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, I worked for a little while in the engineering rooms of large U.S. cargo ships. I worked on large diesel engines, turbochargers, desalinization plants, generators, and other heavy equipment on the ships. I learned a great deal about how those ships operate while visiting over a dozen countries on five continents.

What are your guilty pleasures?

I’m a celebrity gossip aficionado. Occasionally, when my wife asks if a specific celebrity is still alive or married to another celebrity, I often know the answer. Although we don’t play often, trivia is fun when you have a wealth of sports and celebrity knowledge.

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