Lakehead graduate managing Hamilton’s COVID-19 hotline

Photo of Michael Bush 

By Brandon Walker

Michael Bush (HBCom’08, MSMgt’09) is currently managing the Public Health COVID-19 hotline for the City of Hamilton.

Prior to COVID-19 arriving in Canada, Michael was in charge of inventory management, storage and handling practices, and data management for the City of Hamilton vaccine program.

Then COVID-19 reached Canada and his superiors asked Michael to manage the Covid19 hotline. For Michael, this change was an adjustment, but he felt prepared. His confidence came from managing the city’s vaccine program and from working as a project manager.

“For myself, the biggest challenge moving into a management role was that I’m not the type of person who walks away from things,” Michael says.

When he was promoted to vaccine program supervisor, Michael was working on several projects that he needed to leave behind.

“I had to overcome the idea of not completing those projects and being given new responsibilities overnight,” he says.

“The challenge in coming from frontline to leadership was stepping back,” he says. “In a supervisor role, not only did I have to think about my own work, but also the work of the team. Learning how to better delegate tasks became important because, when done successfully, it can encouraged and empower your team.”

When the city promoted him to vaccine program supervisor, Michael immediately began learning more about the vaccine world and his confidence grew.

“This was all new to me,” he says. “I quickly had to bring myself up to speed with the knowledge and competencies involved in being the vaccine program supervisor and being in a leadership role.”

That was October 2016. Fast forward to April 2020 when Michael was once again asked to switch gears by managing the COVID-19 hotline.

“I came in around week three or four.  I had more than 40 new teammates who I was able to orchestrate and organize in a fashion that made sense. In this management role, it has been extremely fast-paced with many challenges and issues.

“But with a lot of hard work and dedication from both myself, my colleagues and our teammates, I think we’ve been really successful in bringing forward solutions and creating a positive work environment while providing sensational service to the citizens of Hamilton.”

Hamilton’s COVID-19 hotline takes calls from citizens who have concerns about people who are not self-isolating or about non-essential businesses that are operating, and about other concerns.

Michael credits his success to his Lakehead University education.

“Lakehead prepared me to think critically, to be a problem solver and emotionally intelligent, which is a key aspect of being a leader,” he says.

“My undergrad helped instill the values of teamwork, innovation and passion, of being a high level achiever and doing that with fairness. My Master of Science degree certainly got me to the place I am today.

“I was able to hit the ground running as a confident, motivated and driven employee. Without my Master’s degree I probably wouldn’t be in the position I am now.”