Why He’s Interesting: Before taking over the Cleveland Clinic in 2018, Mihaljevic received sound advice from his predecessor Toby Cosgrove: what you do is not important, but what matters most is striving to be the best in the world at what you do. A career cardiac surgeon, Mihaljevic helped build and served as the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi before taking on his new position in Cleveland, overseeing more than 2.4 million patient visits a year and more than $10.5 billion in operating revenue.
Hot Spots: Born and raised in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, Mihaljevic says there are many cities where he feels at home and advises that tourists should not miss the city of Dubrovnik, which is known as one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. “But my favorite part of the world is the Croatian coast.”
Medicine Man: Mihaljevic grew up wanting to be a historian, archaeologist or lawyer. But he landed on his career when he was 16 after developing an interest in biology. “It seemed like something worth doing, a profession where one can do a lot of good.”
Fast Lessons: After graduating from the University of Zagreb School of Medicine, Mihaljevic was trained in cardiac surgery in Zurich, Switzerland. Only, he didn’t speak German and had to start in three months. So he moved to Vienna and got to work. “I had to learn. I had to. My future depended on it. Our country was in war and everything was closed. I had only one opportunity.”
Innovation Central: In response to COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic designed its own tests. By early December, the hospital completed more than 500,000 tests and are currently developing at-home kits for those in need. “This is the biggest health care challenge that we have faced in a generation. We had to rely on one another to figure out how to live with COVID. I would like to say that the Cleveland Clinic handled the new challenge in ways that are truly just inspirational.”
Science Matters: When the Cleveland Clinic hosted the first presidential debate ahead of the 2020 election, President Donald Trump’s family did not wear masks after being seated, in defiance of clear protocol established by hospital. “What we have learned is that our health really depends on the active participation of every person and the debate was not an exception.”
Heart Healthy: One thing Mihaljevic does every day is work out, often with his wife. “We walk. We run. We cycle. We love skiing. We work out every morning in the gym and combine it with Pilates on the weekend.”
Still Standing: After 16 years spent as a cardiac surgeon, Mihaljevic is used to being on his feet and does all of his work at a standing desk. “I have always stood throughout my career as a resident and fellow, and then in the operating room, it became habit. I feel better standing up. It’s where I am most comfortable.”
Mihaljevic has performed more than 3,000 surgeries over the course of his career.
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