Dr. Dan Vincent Armooh. CEO, Acacia Health Insurance Ltd.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Dr. Dan Armooh. I am just a simple man trying to brighten my corner. LOL

I attended Ghana Secondary Technical School, Takoradi and proceeded to KNUST where I studied for a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and then a medical degree (MB. ChB). After graduation, my life has had some exciting twists and turns. I had hoped to be a Gynaecologist but God had other plans. I went to Business school to study for an MBA (Central University) and then the University of Sheffield, U.K for a Master of Public Health degree. I have topped those up with a PgCert in Health Economics from the University of Aberdeen, UK and quite recently a certificate in Health Policy and Financing from the Royal Tropical Institute, Netherlands.

In between all that there’s been a lot of training and short courses.

In terms of hobbies, I am an unrepentant book addict. I love to read everything I lay hands on from archeology to zoology. I used to love playing football but lately, I have replaced that with watching football and playing the piano. The passion for the piano was an unfulfilled childhood dream which I picked up again about 5years ago. Finally, I have ticked that box as well.

I am a family man with two lovely daughters. Oops, I guess that’s ok for an intro.

Walk us through your early career journey (first 5 years)

As a medical doctor, I had to undertake a 1-yr mandatory housemanship training after graduation, which I did at 37 military hospital.

Post housemanship my plan was to emigrate so I took a break from medical practice and went to the US. After a couple of months in the states, I soon realized I’d require a lot of financial support to write all the required qualification examinations until I finally got into the US medical system. I had little money then, had no other support, and also did not have the mental toughness at the time to hustle it out in the U.S. I abandoned ship after 6months and returned to Ghana.

When I came back, I moved straight into private practice – CnJ Medicare Hospital – where I worked for 5years. Going into private practice as a very young doctor was quite rare at the time. My first five years of work was filled with uncertainty as I soon realized it was going to be difficult to get into residency as a private practitioner to become a Gynaecologist. A lot of private practitioners were experienced doctors who had become self-employed persons. I had no experience; I was not self-employed, and my employers were not ready to sponsor me for any residency training. I simply opened myself for any opportunities to learn during the period, to build as much experience as I had not fully settled into what my other options and plans were.

I was given so much to do in terms of patient care and other associated responsibilities. CnJ back then had a huge portfolio of clients. There were over 100 corporate firms in Accra and Tema whose primary care hospital was CnJ. We were attending to the top brass of corporate Ghana – from CEOs and top corporate leaders from banking through education, insurance and oil and gas. I had a great opportunity of meeting and interacting with many of these people on a daily basis – most of them as patients. I took house-calls (home visits to attend to some of these people and their families) on several occasions. Along the line, I was assigned the duty of doing presentations on health topics to several companies as part of our corporate health education programme. That also brought me into contact with yet a lot more people, some of who later become not just patients, but friends and close acquaintances.

While at CnJ I enrolled for an MBA at Central University Graduate School of Business as an evening student. My work shift was from 8am to 4pm. This was a 2-year programme and it allowed me to make use of my free time in the evenings. Classes started from 6pm to 9pm each weekday. The need to study for the MBA arose from the many administrative roles I was assigned to at CnJ which included quality control at the lab and managing ‘nurse – management’ interactions. With little knowledge in this area, I wanted not only to contribute to the growth of the company but also to hone down my own management skills. My education from the business school is what gave me the direction and perspectives I needed for my life and career.

After my MBA I was given another role as a medical liaison officer at the newly formed Managed Healthcare Company (MHC), which was a health insurance subsidiary of CnJ. My role was to connect the providers of care to the enrolled members of MHC. I later become Head of Claims and Medical Networking of that company leading a team of 25 people. I performed this dual role – my job as a primary care physician at CnJ and my role at MHC – for the next two years, until I eventually left after 5years of service.

What values/skills would you say you demonstrated in your early career journey that have contributed to your career success?

I give an exception to those who knew it all before they even chose a course of study at the university. But frankly, many of us start our careers not really knowing what skills will propel us in the future. I am among the many who started their career like that.  There were skills I acquired during the first 5years which I never even knew will shape the course of my career.

I built a great network of friends and acquaintances. I developed my management skills. I did so many corporate presentations that helped improve my communication skills. After these health presentations, there were a lot of Q&As and those sessions shaped my ability to think on my feet and provide well-thought-out responses. Going to business school helped me to understand finance – issues with money and investments. It also helped me a great deal with my time management skills as I had to juggle work, school and family life during those two years. Those years were good grounds for personal grooming as well as critical thinking skills.

Did you always know you wanted to do what you are doing now?

As I indicated above, I had my original goals but life had other plans for me. I had no idea I will end up in health insurance along the line.

What were some of the mistakes you made on the career journey?

Genuinely I won’t call them mistakes, I will call them the twists and turns of life. And these “miss-takes” (and I’m using the word on purpose) always shape us up for a higher call along the way. As long as we accept whatever detours that come our way as part of growing up, and make a conscious effort to learn whatever lessons come out of such diversions, I will think and fully accept that all the so-called “miss-takes” are just part of the learning process.

I quit my job at CnJ at an instant notice just because I didn’t agree with a management decision. I had no alternative plan whatsoever at the time of making that decision. That decision took me through another learning process. I ended up studying for a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Sheffield (as an online student) after that because I was soon faced with the reality that I needed further education. If I hadn’t quit, I will have felt very secured and adequate at the time, which will have kept me at the same place and at the same career level.

If you had the opportunity to change one thing in your early career/work experience days what will it be?

I had an opportunity to enroll to become a Chartered Insurer but I declined that. Maybe looking back, I wish I had forfeited a few more years of personal time to do that course. It’s not late though. I might just reconsider it…LOL

Any advice to someone who is confused about their career planning?

As I indicated above, you’d be a genius if you never got confused about anything. We’ve all been confused before. I was confused before getting married but it ended being one of the best decisions I ever made – tough as marriage has been.

All I can say is that find a passion – something that makes you go to sleep dreaming and makes you want to wake up early the next morning to take it up again. Don’t choose careers because everyone is choosing it or careers that offer you the most prospects of money. The worse thing will be to be stuck in a career simply because it gives you money. You might end up being unfulfilled in life.

Having identified what you really want to do, remember that passion alone is not enough. You should be prepared to subject yourself under intense training and learning to hone down your skills in the area so that your work will stand out from the crowd. See yourself as an apprentice in your chosen field. And commit to learning from the masters. Know when to move on and try things on your own, to gain independence and confidence to chart your own course in life.

Finally, I’d say be optimistic. Stay positive and keep your faith grounded in God. The rest of it will be decision making and how we navigate the whole course of life.

If you had a minute to coach/advice a tertiary student about work readiness, what would it be?

In my line of work, I have interviewed many degree holders who are simply unprepared for the world of work.

For those about to graduate, remember that your lot in life will be determined by the outcomes of the work you produce. No one (and I mean absolutely no one) will hire and pay you for the certificates you hold or have acquired. Having a first-class degree is good. It will make your parents proud. But the reality is that certificates are just pieces of papers that will take you into the room of work. What will keep you there are two things – the actual work you produce and the attitude you demonstrate (to colleagues, to superiors, to clients) while you churn out your work.

In our part of the world, there are already limited opportunities. Therefore, the need to be outstanding cannot be overemphasized. Those who stand out will always take up the few available opportunities. If you expand your world of work even unto the global stage, that further raises the bar for excellence and exceptionalism. Therefore, one simply cannot choose to be ordinary if he wants to succeed in the world of work.

Knowing what you know now as a high-profile professional, what would be your advice to a rising young professional you are mentoring?

Stay focused! There are too many distractions these days. Don’t be quick to hype your small achievements and show off your little successes. Life is a marathon. If you are in the lead after the second mile, it’s really of no use splashing all your photos for everyone to know you are leading the race. Sometimes the need to be seen and heard distract many rising professionals so much so that more time is spent managing their public image than on their work.

When you succeed and you are really successful, it’s a personal achievement. It’s a fulfillment of your own life goals, which no one on this earth knew about. It’s creating work of value that sells of and by itself. It’s impacting many lives that society will appreciate independent of what you think or say about it. At that point, you won’t even worry about how you are seen by anyone else. That public image you had craved as a young rising professional will not matter to you anymore.

Secondly remember you are a “rising” professional. You have just started a journey. That’s not the time to rub shoulders with your bosses and those who are holding your hands up. Be socially intelligent. Be emotionally intelligent. There is politics everywhere – even in a religious organization. You have not arrived, (actually few do). We are all rising so don’t put yourself in a position where someone will decide to make you his target – to stop you in your tracks. Be neutral, wise and strategic and let God lead the journey.

I believe we can all be exceptional in our various chosen fields. Stay the course. I wish you all the best.


Akua Ampah

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