Wheel Operations Manager, Thomas Bazerghi, has taken an international journey on his path to Wheel. Learn more about his diverse background and why Jiu-Jitsu has helped him become a more strategic thinker.
What’s your role at Wheel?
I work as an operations manager at Wheel and my role is multifaceted. In a given day I might be developing a new process to optimize our business, working with clients to launch them with our platform, or analyzing supply and demand to ensure the right clinicians get matched to the right clients.
As an operations manager, I need to constantly find the right balance between being clinician-first and ensuring we can help clients launch as quickly as possible. This means working with both groups to find the right solution for everyone.
Wheel is redefining the role of the clinician in virtual care. Everything that we’re doing is new, and that means we’re constantly forced to solve problems in innovative ways. What’s exciting about my role is that the decisions I take have a tangible impact on the company.
I’m constantly pushed to stretch myself and take on new challenges that truly make me grow as a person.
Last, one of the best parts of working at Wheel is the amazing team I get to be a part of. Since joining, I have felt empowered to take extreme ownership of different aspects of our operations and have felt supported as I've adapted into my role. Everyone is hard-working and humble—but also don’t take themselves too seriously.
As we look into the future, I’m very excited to see how we grow Wheel and make an even bigger impact on improving clinician and patient lives.
What’s your background? What did you do before working with Wheel?
I was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to an Egyptian father and French-Canadian mother. Growing up, my family moved often—I grew up in Chicago, Puerto Rico, France, and Boston. I was very fortunate to grow up in so many different places and be exposed to many cultures at an early age. It made me able to adapt to shifting sand and gave me a deep appreciation for the diversity the world has to offer.
I went to school at Boston University and majored in Economics with a minor in Chinese language. My learning journey eventually brought me to spend a year abroad in Shanghai, China, where I studied at Fudan University. While in China, I also worked at a China-based healthcare startup called CareVoice. Our mission was focused on making healthcare more transparent and safer for patients in China. I was responsible for helping grow the expat community using our platform and to help connect them to trusted care in Shanghai.
After graduating from Boston University, I went to work full time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the Office of Open Learning. There, I was part of a scrappy team called MIT Bootcamps, where we worked on developing online courses and accelerated learning bootcamps on entrepreneurship. I also gained more exposure to the healthcare industry by helping organize a program on healthcare innovation.
Aside from work, I’m an avid Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. I was always interested in martial arts growing up, and Jiu-Jitsu became a passion after college. I love Jiu-Jitsu because it takes a systematic and efficient approach to fighting. The philosophy behind Jiu-Jitsu is all about a weaker opponent defeating a stronger appointment through skill and a calm mind. It’s highly technical, and requires strategy in order to outsmart your opponent. These elements make Jiu-Jitsu extremely rewarding to learn and a great way to stay healthy.
Why did you join the Wheel team?
I’ve been with Wheel since August 2019. At the time, I was looking for the next step in my career and wanted to transition back to working in a startup. I was interested in living somewhere completely new, and the Austin startup scene caught my attention. I knew there were huge changes taking place in virtual care, and given I had experience in digital health, I was definitely looking at these opportunities.
Wheel caught my eye because it seemed different than all the other virtual care companies—and that new approach stood out to me.
Wheel caught my eye because it seemed different than all the other virtual care companies. While most virtual care companies focused on patients, Wheel took the approach of focusing on clinicians. Its mission was to help patients by making clinicians happier, and that new approach stood out to me.
On top of that, the problem that Wheel was solving made sense to me. On the one hand, it was seeking to make clinicians’ lives better by connecting them to new opportunities and more flexible work. On the other hand, it was helping the entire virtual care industry grow by providing the clinician infrastructure needed to make it move forward. While what Wheel does can seem very subtle on the outside, I could see the potential for impact in the growing industry.
I wouldn’t say there is ever an “average” day at Wheel. Whether it’s planning out a new launch with a client, working with our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Rafid Fadul, to design a clinical protocol, or speaking with clinicians to get their feedback, every day brings new challenges. What’s great is that I get to be exposed to every aspect of the business, and with that, I’m always learning new things.
What’s your recent Wheel Moment of Reward?
One of the early moments that stood out to me was having the opportunity to speak and learn from clinicians first hand. I remember sitting in on a clinician interview conducted by Buhr Duong, our Senior Product Designer. The purpose of the interview was to demo an upcoming product feature and get direct feedback from clinicians.
What really impressed me was the attention and care taken to understand clinicians. The team placed a high level of value on getting clinician input at every stage of the process. First, this showed me that Wheel was serious about understanding clinicians. The Wheel team put in the effort to discover the real pain points and problems clinicians faced.
By focusing on developing a deep understanding of clinician problems, it gave me confidence that we could develop better solutions to enhance the clinician experience.
Second, as I was new to Wheel, having the chance to listen in and understand the clinician’s perspective gave me a deeper connection to our mission. It provided me with first-hand context to the operations work we were doing. While I understood the business model and the opportunity we had at hand, the direct interaction with clinicians made everything click on a much deeper level.
What do you think the future of healthcare holds?
I’m excited by the future of healthcare because there’s massive untapped potential for innovation. In other words, there are still a ton of problems that need to be solved, and that means we’re at a very ripe time to be able to make a difference.
To me, some of the most exciting problems are about how to make healthcare cheaper and more accessible to more people. These are massive challenges that still need to be solved, and I believe that Wheel is taking a huge step forward when it comes to addressing these problems. I think virtual care can have a huge impact on making healthcare cheaper and connecting patients to care that otherwise would not have access to trusted clinicians.
Another area I’m excited about is mental health. There’s no doubt that there’s a mental health epidemic in the world right now. Virtual care is already playing a pivotal role in providing mental health treatment to more patients. I’m looking forward to seeing how Wheel brings our clinician-first approach into the mental health area.
Thanks, Thomas, for sharing your thoughts and being an essential member of the #WheelCareTeam!
Interested in joining our team? Check out the latest career opportunities with Wheel.
Learn more about our team in a previous staff profile with Dr. Rafid Fadul, Chief Medical Officer at Wheel.