At 6:30 in the morning on a Friday, Ron Bates is in his office crunching numbers.
Ditto on Saturday.
So it goes when you’re the UNLV School of Medicine’s Director of Finance, a man keenly aware of the fact that while the new school is a nonprofit, it still must do well in order to do good.
“We have to be on sound financial footing if we’re going to train the kind of doctors who make a real difference in this community,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, you can’t continue without financial stability.”
It’s budget time, so Bates —
he’s helped manage finances for multibillion dollar corporate giants like IBM —
is making sure monies acquired from sources that include clinical services, grants, philanthropy and the State of Nevada are funding faculty and administrative salaries.
“My strength lies in understanding the level of expertise it takes to be successful in any field and supporting them financially so they can focus on their area of expertise. I believe we have the faculty and leadership in place at the school of medicine that is laying the groundwork to ensure a great medical school. My ultimate goal is to be a catalyst in getting the school of medicine to a point where the financial stability and strength allows us to make the best decisions for the students and community.”
Bates began working to get the finances of the medical school in shape in January 2016, about 18 months before the school officially opened.
That he felt a sense of satisfaction when the first class of 60 students started hitting the books is an understatement: “I love to see that what I do makes a difference.”
With his father in the military, Bates grew up both in Europe and the United States. There were seven moves in the U.S. alone. Having to make new friends at each stop, he says, helped refine his ability to easily meet and work with people - it made him realize the importance of a collegial atmosphere.
If you’re not getting along with one another, he says, it’s hard to get things done.
“If I can be a part of a team that makes everyone better, I want to be a part of that,” he says.
He’s the kind of guy who brings in donuts to make mornings a little more enjoyable, who’ll joke he has some sense of being a minority given that he lives with his wife and three daughters.
“Ron has a way of seeing the positive, making you feel good about what you’re doing,” says executive assistant Virginia Weidenfeller.
A business graduate of Idaho State University, Bates also holds an MBA in international finance from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO. When he isn’t working, he and his family often hike at Red Rock or Mt. Charleston.
His professional background has always been in finance. He began his career as a staff accountant with the Arthur Andersen accounting firm. That was followed by stops at Sprint and IBM.
“What I found rewarding was the opportunity I had to be in areas that needed to improve financially and operationally. In each instance I was able to work with great teams who maniacally focused on success and we were very successful in client satisfaction, financial achievement of our goals and continued excellence in our delivery.”
As rewarding as those business ventures were, Bates wanted more direct involvement in helping people have a chance at living better lives.
“My experience at IBM taught me that I had the tool set to do just about anything in the financial area, but that I needed to have more passion about what I was doing. I wanted to do be a part of something where I was proud of what I did, that what I did mattered, and where I could be a part of something bigger than myself. I had been exploring the medical field for sometime, but when UNLV offered me the chance to be a part of the school of medicine from the beginning, it felt like the ideal opportunity.”