Open to Change
John “Rusty” Frantz ’92 is a key player in several healthcare technology company successes and knows how to transform businesses. But it wasn’t until after he turned around his own life, more than once, that he found his path to success.
In 2015, Frantz became the CEO of NextGen Healthcare, a provider of software solutions for the ambulatory physician market with more than $500 million in revenue. Prior to NextGen, he led a $1B global business, Pyxis, in the delivery of a disruptive global medication management strategy.
Few who knew him when was enrolled at University of California, Santa Barbara, in the ‘80s would have predicted his accomplishments. In fact, “after three rather
enjoyable but completely unsuccessful years,” he says, “they respectfully kicked me out.”
He got a job scraping paint on an MSC tanker starting in the Philippines, and was confronted with the hardship of people who lived there. Seeing real adversity caused him to revisit his own choices and commit to selfimprovement.
Frantz had spent a lot of time on the ocean, so he decided to enroll in Maine Maritime, “at first I thought deck,” he says, “but changed to marine systems engineering.” It was the perfect match. He graduated in three years with a near-perfect academic score.
“Learning to manage large, complex systems like a power plant where you’re constantly seeing how multiple sub-systems work together was amazing,” he says, “That experience combined with the hands-on experience of MMA and the Marine Systems Engineering degree prepared me very well for my master’s program,” which was at Stanford in Embedded Systems and Robotics.
While looking for a summer job, he happened upon a technology startup in the founder’s home that six years later led to a company with $55 million in sales. But after this fast-paced effort he was drained, and once again evolved, finding balance between work and family—one of his most meaningful challenges—before the successful leap back into business he enjoys today.
His advice: “What’s helped me most in my career and life has been a willingness to accept feedback and improve. Self-awareness is not enough for great leadership; one must constantly evolve,” Frantz says. “I work every day to be better, as a leader, a father, and am proud and grateful to be an MMA grad!”█